In 2020, I made no plans, no flying to romantic destinations, no festivals and events and no get-togethers. There was way too much uncertainty at the time and we didn’t want to be disappointed, lose out on money, or get stranded in some other country. When 2021 came around, we began to open up to opportunities. We were vaccinated and many organizations seemed to have a handle on their policies. In all, we booked three local events for the whole year … and each one got rescheduled or cancelled. Right when you think things are looking bright, a new variant comes out. Parades and festivals seem to change on a dime the minute a new variant is announced. Not to mention all the normal disappointments, like bad weather (tornadoes cancelled Christmas parades here in TN) or random unforeseen events (Our ballet tickets were cancelled due to the stage flooding the night before and our cabin getaway was cancelled because the owner sold the property.)
The past couple years have been filled with disappointments, for everyone. The constantly evolving regulations around the pandemic has led to lots of last minute changes and cancellations to events and there’s a good chance that will continue into 2022. I have already seen a lot of posts about 2022 being a repeat of the last two years and the disappointment has already consumed us (and we are only 10 days in!). For many of us, this is getting real old and very exhausting. Looking forward to things is an important part of mental wellbeing, but how can you look forward to things anymore? Let’s explore a little about what disappointment is and how to best deal with what feels like a constant parade of disappointments.
Disappointment is a part of life, especially now during the pandemic. Disappointment can make us stronger and more resilient people, as long as we allow ourselves to see the bright side of it. Some disappointments are small, like a concert got cancelled, others are bigger, like losing a job that you were loyal to for years. The common denominator is that it is in the past and we cannot change it.
Tips for Dealing with Disappointment
Accept it and Talk it out
Allow yourself to feel sad about the disappointment, spend time to identify the root cause, and find a confidant to discuss it with. Try to regulate your emotions through exercise, journaling or talk therapy. Do not dwell on the disappointment. The constant replay of the disappointment can start to become your identity if not handled properly. Normalize the fact that everyone experiences disappointment in life, you are not alone, and help is available. Check out the BetterHelp support network.
Reset Your Expectations
Disappointment is a result of your expectations not being met. Try to make your expectations a little more flexible. Letting go of control or perfectionism can be scary, but maybe it’s time to roll with the punches. You may even find a way to laugh a little about it later on.
Remove the Self Pity
It’s time to change your self talk and reframe the disappointment from “woe is me” to “I got this”. Separate the feeling with the facts. Change the talk from “I am a disappointment” to “This was a disappointment”. According to HBR, “Far too many people, when faced with disappointment, tend to attribute negative life events to their personal failings. They resort to obsessional self-blaming, as they feel ashamed or humiliated of not measuring up to the image of their ideal self.”
Focus on Positive Solutions
Holding onto a disappointing experience is detrimental to your health and well being, leading to unnecessary stress and depression. Try getting creative to find a positive solution. Maybe the ballet getting cancelled turns into an impromptu night of dancing and cookie decorating at home. Perhaps that lost promotion is an opportunity to pursue another career path. Don’t get caught up in the “what-if” worst case scenarios, try to “what if” and insert a positive outcome or scenario. Example: What if I never get a promotion now OR In reality, I will probably get another promotion, just not now. What if the timing just wasn’t right.
Learn From It
Take disappointment as an opportunity to learn. During the pandemic, I have learned to always make a plan B that I can be in control of, such as planning a picnic at a park if the matinee show gets cancelled. According to an HBR article, “Disappointment is not meant to destroy us. If taken in stride, it can strengthen us and make us better. In spite of its devastating emotional impact, we may even consider encounters with disappointment as journeys toward greater insight and wisdom.”
When you run into disappointment, it’s easy to lose sight of everything else in your life. It is natural to fall into a negative state of mind where we can only see the bad and negative things that are happening to us and around us. Turn off the news, turn off the negative self talk, and remind yourself of your blessings, even if they can be hard to find.
Do Something Kind for Someone Else
Sometimes the best way to get out of a funk is to be kind to someone else. Help remove a disappointment for someone else. Maybe you put a few extra coins in the parking meter for the next car. Be the igniter of a kindness day.
How are you dealing with disappointment? Leave a comment below.
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