Managing life’s disappointments

Disappointment. Unfortunately, it is everywhere. I feel like I am constantly disappointed. My history of consistent disappointment led me to begin eliminating expectations. I would tell myself, “if I do not have expectations, I cannot be disappointed.” That doesn’t work. There is no switch for expectations. What I am finally beginning to learn is the art of appreciating what I do have. As with the lemons of life, it is not so much about what has been disappointing but how you react to the disappointment.

Set realistic expectations

I have high expectations. I have incredibly high expectations of myself. I have similar expectations of others. I expect those closest to me to be as smart as me, as ambitious, as conscientious and generous, etc. Unfortunately, it is not that realistic. We are all individuals and have different expectations for ourselves and others. One of the most important things I am beginning to learn as I walk the path of building interdependence, is that I need to tell others what my expectations are.

Perceive disappointment (or not)

Life’s disappointments—

Waiting for the phone call that never comes——

Expecting to see weight loss when you hop on the scale—–

Loving with all your heart and not receiving the same in return—–

Earning and not receiving that raise—–

What are disappointments? Not receiving what we want? Not receiving what we feel we need or deserve?

Manage disappointment differently

Think of a recent time that you felt disappointment. Where were you? What were you thinking? Were your thoughts accurate? Were your thoughts clouded with feeling? I am guilty of letting my feelings cloud my thinking. For example, if someone specific lets me down, my feelings of sadness lead me to think that the person does not care about me. Often times – there is much more detail to the circumstances. For example, if someone is late, she may be caught in traffic and her phone is buried in the back seat of her car.

This can mean taking things less personally and getting out of the me-centered mindset. We are all guilty of this at one time or another.

If you have blamed someone else for your disappointment, you may need to put yourself in the other persons shoes. What are his circumstances? You may need to take an inventory of the factors surrounding your disappointment.

Ask questions

Following are questions to ask yourself when experiencing disappointment. Thoughtfully processing disappointment can aid in overcoming the negative thoughts and moving forward in a positive manner.

  1. Why am I disappointed?
  2. Who am I disappointed with?
  3. What, if anything, could I have done differently from the beginning to avoid this from happening? (Ask only things that you could do differently, things that are within your control.)
  4. What did this experience teach me about myself?
  5. What part of this mess is mine, and what part belongs to another?
  6. Is there something in either my past or my constitutional make up that sets me up for the reoccurrence of this and similar disappointments?
  7. Are my expectations for myself and/or others unrealistic?
  8. What do I need to say to myself or to the others involved to release myself and move on from this experience?

The bottomline photo (20)

Disappointment is inevitable. No one of us will make it through life without disappointments. Often times, we are not in control of of occurrence of disappointment, but we can control how we react (i.e., think and feel) as a result. Do not let disappointments hold you down. Use them as opportunities for growth. Find the good in every situation – it could be an opportunity to get to know yourself or others in a more intimate way.


2 thoughts on “Managing life’s disappointments

  1. I had a teacher tell me to never become stressed about something that is out of your control. I take this to mean that if I have given my all, put in all the effort I can, I have done everything in my control to succeed. If something does not fall in this category than I can not let it affect me negatively. I feel like this mentality has helped me strive for my best without carrying the weight of the world when things seem out of reach or go wrong. This has minimized disappointment for me. Great post, as always.


    • Sounds like a wonderful teacher who left a lasting impact! I have to appreciate that! It does always read like you have a healthy mentality – highly inspiring.

      Thanks for the awesome feedback!

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