How well do you deal with disappointment?


I recently received some disappointing news. I will resist the urge to say the news was devastating- it was not, just inconvenient and it brought a costly implication. Nothing we could not handle as a family!

Disappointment is a fact of life. It will come in many forms whether we like it or not.  It is therefore our responsibility to build up a resilience to disappointment.  It is our responsibility to ensure disappointment does not ruin our day, week or month. Easier said than done I know, especially if it impacts on your family members.

I do not recommend that you plan for disappointment but that you operate with an element of flexibility.  Life is never black and white – there are always shades of grey.  However much we plan, life throws the odd challenge here and there. We must endeavour to throw them back.

As a child and teenager I handled disappointment badly and also found it difficult to cope in particular circumstances.  I recall receiving earrings for my birthday, I must have been 13 or 14 years old. One of the earrings broke as I was clearly too forceful when attempting to put them on. I sat and sobbed for hours. My mum tried to console me but I would not allow her to. I felt terribly sorry for myself and wanted to wallow in self pity.  I knew then I struggled emotionally but had no idea how to work my way through it so my dramatic reactions to disappointment continued into my twenties.

We have such different characters and thresholds for disappointment. Someone I know of booked a break for her and family. Her child fell ill near the travel date (not seriously ill) and they were unable to attend. They were not reimbursed so lost all payments. She was easily able to shrug it off and move on and I admire her for this. 

It is important we understand how we absorb information and news – good or bad. There are mechanisms one can use to reduce anxiety around facing disappointment. Whilst none are guaranteed to bring an immediate turnaround, they can serve as a starting point to you taking control.

1. Stop whatever you are doing and breathe easy.  If at work, walk away from your desk. If at home go to a quiet room to gather your thoughts.

2. Do not make any rash decisions. At times one may wish to quickly ‘find a solution’ in order to ‘make it all better’. This could bring further calamity.

3. Try not to blame yourself when life does not go as planned. Not every challenge we face is a product of our wrong doing.

4. Stop aiming for perfection – it does not exist and it is a tiring process living to prove your worth via work, family, hobbies etc.

I hope my mechanisms for facing disappointment have been helpful. Perhaps you can share your personal experience.

How do you deal with disappointment?
Have you improved on this over the years?