Disappointments are an entirely natural part of a fulfilling life. When your hope or expectation of something is not met, you feel let down. However, if you are shooting for the stars, disappointment should be your friend – it gives you a renewed focus on your path. There is nothing like a short, sharp shock to make you think.
As long as it is short and sharp….
There are, however, many darker sides to disappointment. If allowed to linger and fester, it can become something far more dangerous. Depression is something entirely different. If you allow your disappointments to build into a harmful downward spiral, it is very hard to climb back out.
Therefore, I would like to share a few ideas of how to handle disappointment as swiftly as possible when it comes along:
Accept it as part of your journey. It is a cliché, but it is vital to remember when the down times come. Get over it quickly, and you will always move on to better things.
Feel the feeling. Never deny it. Take some time to actually feel disappointed. Don’t immediately reach for the chocolate or go for a run to make yourself feel better. The disappointment will still be there when you have finished. If you take a while to think about it (but not wallow in it), then it will pass quicker.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself. It is far too easy to picture yourself as the victim of the piece. Poor you, this is terrible, how could this have happened to you? If you see disappointments as being normal, then you will never feel like you are “suffering."
Put it in perspective. What may seem like the end of the world to you may be insignificant for someone else. How much of a big deal is it anyway? Yes, you may not be feeling great about life today, but in the grand scheme of things, does it make that much of a difference to your final destination?
Don’t let it all pile up. This is a big one. Small disappointments can conspire together to ruin your day if you let them get to you. Missed the train? Late for a meeting? Criticised by a colleague? Spilt some coffee? Suddenly dark clouds start to gather, but your mood shouldn’t be spoilt by all these trivial things.
Don’t doubt yourself. It is hard not to take disappointment personally. Sometimes, just accepting it and not even reacting is the best option. There is nothing worse that bouncing from knee-jerk reaction to knee-jerk reaction after every setback. Don’t doubt yourself, stay the path and ride out the bumps.
Be grateful for what you have. Disappointments for one person might be unbridled joy for another. Look around you and realize that there are many others who would love to be in your place. Practicing gratefulness is a crucial strategy for a fulfilling life
Consider adjusting your outlook. Sometimes, your understanding of how things “should be” can suck the joy from your life. Make sure that your hopes and expectations are a “stretch” target, but not to the point that the elastic breaks every time. That is just soul destroying.
Get back on your path. If you have the right coping strategies, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can get back on the “right” track, although, as I have mentioned, the disappointments are not a deviation from the path, they are part of the path.
Sometimes, getting over a disappointment can feel as good as celebrating a victory….