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Tips for Handling Disappointment
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, February 2015

Disappointment is Workable.

Disappointment is one of life's most common and, for many of us, uncomfortable feelings. Disappointment can be a mixture of other emotions, among them, anger, sadness, rejection, and hurt.

Often, unmet expectations are the source of our disappointment. We plan or hope for something that doesn't happen. Or, the result is just different from what we imagined. When things don't "work out" we may judge ourselves or others harshly, ruminating over what went "wrong," compounding our disappointment.

How can we work with disappointment and move through it, learning the lessons that are there for us, in healthy ways? Here are some tips to consider:

Experience the Emotions. - Allow yourself to feel what you're feeling without any agenda of hastening the process. Whatever you are feeling is okay. Take some time to just sit with your emotional response and experience it without moving to fix or change it. Notice if there is a difference between when you are disappointed in yourself and when you are disappointed in others.

Get Some Perspective. - When we are preoccupied with our thoughts and expectations, we may not realize that we are also judging, critical, and clouding the chance to see a situation for what it is. Taking some time to step back and give ourselves (and others) space can broaden our perspective so that we can learn without judgment.

Recognize the Opportunity for Growth. - Often we can feel like giving up when we blame ourselves and others for our disappointments. Disappointment is a part of life, but all parts of life can help us grow. Rather than shutting down, look for the valuable lessons in our "failures" that, upon examination, can intensify our experience of living. We just have to give ourselves permission to move forward.

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