3 Effective Strategies for Dealing with Disappointment
Sometimes reality falls short of your expectations. This time of year (first of December) we are in the middle of holiday gatherings, activities . . . and expectations. It seems a lot of pressure to meet the expectations coupled with expectations of our own can often end up in disappointment with ourselves and with others.
Setbacks are a part of life, but how you respond to them can soften the blow. Try these 3 strategies for dealing with disappointment.
First: Avoid Exaggerating
We often make disappointments seem bigger than they are. Remove unnecessary stress from your life by keeping things in perspective.
Use these strategies to avoid seeing your disappointments as bigger than they really are:
1. Embrace change. When you have your heart set on a particular outcome, you may forget that the effects are likely to be short-lived. What seems like a major loss today could be insignificant in 6 months.
2. Stay calm. Discomfort may be easier to bear when you try to stay composed. Take a deep breath or go for a walk outside. Give yourself time to process what’s happening instead of reacting automatically.
3. Depersonalize the situation. You can wind up feeling ashamed when you interpret a disappointment as being a reflection on yourself. Resist the urge to take it personally. (Difficult, yes!)
4. Be specific. Overgeneralizing is another hazard. Tell yourself that this is a single temporary event rather than a permanent downward spiral. Projecting into the future that if my kid steals something today they’ll end up in prison a few years down the road helps no one.
We are told in Matthew, chapter 6, verse 34:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Second: Moving On
Fear of disappointment can sometimes become so intense that it holds you back from taking risks. You’ll have a more fulfilling life if you can persevere even when things turn out differently than you hoped.
These actions will help you move on from disappointment:
1. Start small. Bouncing back from small reversals will teach you skills you can apply to tougher challenges. Be grateful for opportunities to practice.
2. Learn from experience. There are other lessons too. Disappointments can teach you more about yourself and what you really want out of life. You can use them to clarify your goals.
3. Find motivation. Living through an experience you don’t want to repeat gives you an incentive to change. This could be what you need to point you in a more positive direction.
4. Take control. While you want to avoid dwelling excessively on the past, there are helpful questions you can ask yourself. Determine what you could have done differently, so you’ll be prepared for similar situations.
5. Build your self-confidence. More than thinking positive, take every thought captive and hold fast to the truth. Understand your worth in God’s eyes and that he is willing and able to work in and through you even with your shortcomings.
Take care of yourself as a good steward of the treasured gift that you are. And keep adding to your knowledge and skills as a life-long learner.
6. Cultivate support. Having family and friends that you can count on for encouragement and reassurance helps too. Spend time with your loved ones and be open to honest feedback. When those around you aren’t willing or capable of providing emotional support, find it elsewhere.
7. Seek counseling. If a past traumatic event is holding you back, help is available. Talking with a therapist could give you new insights and coping skills. Caution: Be choosy. Therapists are not all the same and do not have all the answers. But they can often offer helpful “tools” and strategies to help you gain perspective. If a certain counselor is not a fit, keep looking.
Third: Adjust Your Expectations
Are you seething with resentment because others let you down? You may be sabotaging yourself by holding onto unrealistic expectations that are too high or too low. They may have lagging skills and abilities, or be overwhelmed, themselves. In any event, a reality check can help moving forward.
Consider these ideas:
1. Check your defenses. Fear could be the reason why you expect too much from others. Name your fears and bring them into the light.
2. Know your worth. On the other hand, you may be dissatisfied because you’re investing too much in relationships with little reciprocity. A healthy amount of give and take is a reasonable expectation. You may want to back off a little and invest some of your resources elsewhere.
3. Advocate for yourself. Maybe your relationships are basically sound, but it would help to work on your communications. Assuming that others can read your mind sets you up for disappointment. Practice asking for what you need tactfully and directly. Back to basics!
Disappointments can make you stronger if you deal with them constructively.
I’m Dawn and I enjoy helping parents and advocating for orphans!
I founded Yesterday’s Orphan, an outreach to support parents and caregivers, especially moms, of adopted and foster children and also step-children.
If you liked this post and it is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.
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