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Seven Good Ways to Manage Disappointment
Posted: 4/19/2013 | Happiness Comments
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If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. -Henry David Thoreau
Have you ever noticed that before spring arrives, a few gorgeous days trick us into thinking it’s finally here? Blue skies and higher temperatures lure us into believing winter is finally over, until dismal, gray weather descends upon us again. We feel fooled every time, and for some of us it’s always a little disappointing, but we know eventually those spring days will roll us right into summer.
Disappointment is a part of life, although people may express it differently and for different reasons. We all have moments of feeling bummed about something, from an incident as small as missing dinner with a friend to very serious loss. Some of us try to avoid it, and by doing that we can miss some of the richness of life. Yes, we have a say in how our lives go, but whether we like it or not, people die, jobs don’t work out and relationships end.
We run into trouble when we don’t identify the ways we avoid disappointment. We might be afraid to face what’s there, or we just don’t have the skills to deal with our feelings when life hands us something we don’t want. In our efforts to avoid disappointment, we might deny some of our feelings; avoid pursuing our goals, or falling in love.
I’ve noticed lately that many parents try to shield children from any disappointment. Some sports teams for young kids make sure that both sides “win,” and no one loses. It’s great to participate in sports as in life, but we do them a grave disservice if they don’t learn to deal with disappointment. One day their boss might give a promotion to the person in the next cubicle, and then what? Learning how to manage these early experiences of disappointment allows us to develop inner strength. It helps us build resilience helping us deal with the bigger disappointments down the road.
Even though we know we can’t eliminate disappointment altogether, we can learn to manage it and see the possibilities on the other side. Here are 7 ways to deal with disappointing experiences:
1.     Remember, disappointment is inherent in life. It’s a natural aspect of living. If you believe you shouldn’t feel disappointed, you’re not being realistic and you’re creating unnecessary stress.
2.     Allow yourself to experience it. Rather than avoiding or trying to bypass your disappointment, allow yourself to experience it. When you embrace the experience, you can move beyond it faster and more completely. Sit with it a while or talk it out with a friend. Write down your thoughts about the entire experience.
3.     Look for the feelings underneath it. Many feelings will accompany the disappointing experience. There might be sadness, anger, embarrassment, or grief. You might worry you’re missing out on something. Identifying, acknowledging, and experiencing the other emotions you have allows you to process and move through whatever’s there. Remember, once you’ve accepted and allowed them to pass, you’ll feel much happier and lighter.
4.     See it as your teacher. Sometimes we aren’t clear about our desires until we’re blasted with disappointment. If that job didn’t pan out, for example, was it really the work you wanted most? What qualities would you want in the next one? Disappointment can help us hone in on what we really want to create in our lives. Use the difficulties as a support to help you grow.
5.     Sometimes one door closes, and another opens. Rather than viewing your disappointment as a firm ‘no’ and rejection by the world, remember another, better avenue may reveal itself to you. Sometimes not getting what you want leads to something you want more.
6.     Look at your expectations. You may have limiting ideas and beliefs operating as unconscious expectations. When something runs counter to this unconscious belief, you’re disappointed. Look at what you were expecting to happen or not happen. Was it realistic? It’s fine to have desires, but they need to be flexible. If we hold life rigidly, believing it has to be a certain way, we’re ripe for disappointment.
7.     This, too, will pass. Life isn’t linear; it’s not an orderly sequence of events. Rather, it spirals and it’s not tidy. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to make any sense. As you release your need for life to go a certain way, it becomes much easier. When you’re aligned with your True Self, life gives you more green lights.
How have you experienced disappointment in your life? What did you do?
Please share your thoughts; your comments make a difference for all of us.


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