Many things disappoint us including:
- missing out
- failing to achieve
- making a mistake
- bad news
- when things don't go the way you expected
When disappointment first hits, it may catch you by surprise. Often I haven't realised how much I've wanted something until I've been told I can't have it! In the moment before the bad news is given, there is still a chance that it will be good news. The moment the bad news is received, the good news is no longer a possibility. In that moment, one possibility dies and the other becomes reality. Your mind and your emotions have to deal with this grief and accept the new reality, preferably without any sign of emotion to those who are around you. None of us wants to be seen to be a poor loser.
Unfortunately, this isn't easy. I've decided that I have a limited time span during which I can hold back tears (hopefully long enough to remove myself to somewhere private!). Other people display their initial disappointment through anger. In some circumstances, people try to fight for the reality that has been taken from them.
So, where to next? After the initial confrontation with reality, we have some time to let things soak in. I always find that I am bombarded by mixed messages over the next few hours. If it's something I worked really hard toward, I feel lousy about my own ability. I try to find some consolation, you know the old "It wasn't meant to be...Something better must be just around the corner...Maybe next time". These phrases are great when trying to convince other people that you're not feeling hurt at the outcome!
Other ideas start floating through my mind too - some to do with giving up (!) and others to do with how to improve chances for the next time. Obviously the second set are much more productive. After I've had some time to deal with the initial emotional upheaval, I'm ready to talk to others. I usually find comfort in talking through my thoughts with people I trust. Alternatively I might write down my thoughts and feelings to help me sort through them. (Okay, okay, so I faced some disappointment today - can you tell?!) I let my husband know straight away and he is very good at helping me think through things. We usually have a nice dinner (or I might buy myself a tasty cheer-up treat).
Possibly the biggest part of dealing with disappointment is being brave enough to risk disappointment again. For some people the thought of possible failure or disappointment stops them from stepping out and trying anything new. Yes, they avoid disappointment in that area, but doesn't it limit their potential as well? If we only try the things for which we are guaranteed success, then won't we miss out on developing our capacity?
What are your thoughts? How do you deal with disappointment?