Disappointment is a feeling you’re bound to experience if you’re trying to live a purposeful life.
Living skillfully doesn’t come easy and you will encounter situations where things won’t go your way. And it’s frustrating when we invest ourselves into relationships, businesses, and opportunities that don’t turn out as we like.
But frustration, anger, and sadness will not change the disappointing outcome. And if you don’t address and manage your feelings appropriately, disappointment can grow into depression and even despair.
Here are a few tips to help you take active control of your feelings and ameliorate your pain.
1. Express Don’t Repress
One of the worst things you can do to your health is to repress negative thoughts and feelings. While keeping to yourself and suppressing your anger might temporarily work, it won’t take long until you lose control and lash out.
That’s why it’s important to find healthy mediums to express your feelings freely. While many options exist, I want to focus on a single medium: writing.
I strongly recommend taking up writing. Writing down your feelings using ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) is a proven way to help you cope with negative thoughts and feelings. Not only does it help you come to terms with your feelings, but it also gives you the opportunity to take proactive action.
Most importantly, don’t focus on eliminating or repressing your negative feelings, focus on not resisting their presence using mindfulness.
2. Active Acceptance
Accepting unwanted outcomes is not always easy. That’s why it’s hard for people to “just deal with it.” Acceptance doesn’t come first either. It is normally preceded by denial. And entering into denial is the first step in the coping cycle.
Accordingly, entering into denial is not a bad thing. It’s a natural part of adjusting to the unwanted outcome. But staying in the denial phase and not moving on can make it difficult for you to live a purposeful life, take new risks and explore new opportunities.
Your way out: Active Acceptance.
Let’s take a quick look at this technique and how it works:
Accepting disappointing outcomes starts on the level of speech. For example, instead of saying “I want to stop feeling sad, but it’s really hard for me to do so,”
“I want to stop feeling sad AND it’s really hard for me to do so.”
Using “and” instead of “but” helps you migrate from the thinking-paradigm to the action-paradigm. This is a necessary step in the healing process as most people try to think themselves out of their negative thoughts and feelings. That’s not so effective. Instead, take constructive action and decide to do something good for yourself. Dwelling on negative thoughts and feelings only perpetuates them.
For an in-depth article on how to counter negative thoughts, see this post.
3. Laugh at Yourself
You feel disappointed when the outcome doesn’t match up your expectations. But continuing to feel angry or sad about it won’t change the outcome. It has already happened. Please realize that you don’t always have all the answers and you won’t always get it right. We all get it wrong, and we get it wrong more often that we would like to admit. You’re fallible my friend, just like me, and everyone else.
One of the best way to cure disappointment is to laugh at yourself. Laughing at your mistakes instead of feeling angry is a sign that you’re willing to move on. Find humor in your imperfections and recognize that you’re not here to never make mistakes. You’re here to makes mistakes and grow wiser.