Dealing with disappointment
Hello my dear listener, welcome back to yet another episode of Morning Cup of Sunshine podcast. How are you today? How’s the new week going? I hope you are having a fantastic day so far. This week I almost missed recording this episode. It was a very busy week for me. But I did not want to miss the opportunity to talk to you so here I go. I wanted to talk about disappointments for a long time. It was one of the most requested topics so far. I almost started recording the episode as well but I somehow never completed it. So, finally I decided to show this episode a light of the day and complete the recording. So, here you go, Episode 74 - Dealing with Disappointment.
Sometimes when you set a goal , work hard for it but somehow, you are getting setbacks along the way and that could be a disappointment. It hurts, I understand. Disappointment can be painful, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot but it hurts for sure. But if you start learning to deal with the disappointment, then there is a greater chance that you move on towards your goal with a positive attitude rather than sulking in negative thoughts for days. Everyone faces disappointment sometime or the other. Feeling disappointed because you worked hard for the exam but did not get the score you expected? Feeling disappointed because you burnt your night oil for the success of the project but someone else got the credit? Feeling disappointed because you gave your best but still you lost the game? Feeling disappointed because you tried your best to take care of everyone at your home but no one seemed to care or notice? I know, we face countless situations where we feel disappointed. Sometimes the severity is so much that it hurts to even think about it. But don’t worry, I have got you covered today. Let’s discuss some ways to deal with the disappointment. Listen carefully, I am not saying avoid disappointment because that is not going to happen. We are human beings with very complex emotions. We feel our feelings every second of the day and those are never linear, those are tangled in such a way someone’s joy can be someone else’s disappointment. So, no, we are not going to find ways to avoid the disappointment, I am not going to sugarcoat it. I am just trying to give you the tools that you can use to deal with the disappointment. So, let’s start, shall we?
Step 1 : Accept how you feel
It is okay to feel disappointed. It is not something to be ashamed of. Feel that emotion. You are hurt, so you take care of yourself. You don’t say, “oh no I am perfectly fine and cover your disappointment behind your beautiful smile. ” If you are disappointed, let yourself know that you worked hard, you had expectations and you are feeling disappointed because things didn’t turn out the way you expected. Whenever there are expectations, there are going to be some disappointments. Disappointment is just the action of your brain to calibrate itself to reality after discovering that the things are not the same way as you expected. It is nothing more than one single emotion. Remember one thing very clearly, “you feel disappointed , you are not a disappointment” You had a setback, maybe you made a mistake and that led you to a setback. It is okay to feel disappointed but that does not mean you are a failure or you are a disappointment. Just because you are disappointed today does not mean you become a disappointment for life. There is another aspect to these disappointments. Sometimes we feel disappointed in ourselves and we deal with it but the most difficult type of disappointments are those where we feel that we disappointed someone else. In this world of crazy competitions and extraordinary peer pressure, I always feel that kids of this generation have an extra burden of not disappointing their parents. Everyone is running a rat race, everyone wants to be the next Michel Phelps or Vishwanathan Anand or Sachin Tendulkar. You are expected to be nothing but ordinary. Kids of this generation are way more vulnerable than we were because of this humongous amount of expectation burden and if they falter at any small steps disappointment is waiting for them with an open arm . Isn’t it our responsibility as a parent to give them the tools to deal with that disappointment? We should be there in a safe place where they know that they are accepted as they are without any expectations. They should feel safe to share their disappointment. We have a greater responsibility to make sure that the kids never feel like a disappointment. So, it is a dual challenge for us. Deal with our own disappointments and shelter our kids from feeling like a disappointment. Looks like we need more tools than just accepting how we feel, right?
Step 2 : Learn from it
You had a setback because you stepped out of your comfort zone and tried something different. Agree, it did not go as expected. You thought you would make it to the top in your first try but it did not happen. Understood. You made some silly mistakes and that caused you to drop your score. What is your take away from it? What changes do you need to make in order to avoid the same mistakes you made before? Do you need to set your expectations correctly? Do you need to set smaller goals? Are you feeling disappointed because of your idea of perfection? Think about it. Sometimes, we don’t really fail, or have a setback, it just does not fit into our idea of perfection. Let’s say, you set a goal to run 5K in 20 minutes but somehow, you finished it in 30 minutes, I know this is not what you expected. It is kind of disappointing for you but rather than holding onto your idea of perfect time you can enjoy the fact that you finished 5K. Ofcourse, reflect on your run time, see what went wrong. Check if you need more preparation or any change is needed in your strategy. But don’t hold on to those 10 extra minutes and be disappointed in yourself. Learning from your mistakes helps you grow, keeping yourself stuck in disappointment will always hold you back. When you make a mistake or have a setback, reflect on it, learn from it and move on. The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. I feel making mistakes is really necessary to grow. Making mistakes means we are ready to grow, to take chances, to work harder, to step up. Just remember, it is not how we make mistakes but how we learn from them, define us. Now, the question remains how to come out of that constant disappointed feeling. For that, let’s consider step 3.
Step 3 : Take a break and recharge
We need a fresh mindset, a new perspective to come out of the negative mindset that might trap you because of the disappointment. Think about the activities that might recharge your mind, that give you a fresh mindset, that lift your mood. What are some of the activities that you enjoy the most? What are some of the activities that will take your mind off of the disappointment? Identify them. Do you like walking outside? Take a stroll in the nearby park. Nature has an incredible soothing effect. It immediately lifts your mood. Do you like journaling? Writing your thoughts down and working through your emotions help you get out of that disappointment. Do you know what helps me? I love to read my old journal entries. I always write about the things that brought me joy that day. When I look through the old pages, I take a stroll down the memory lane. It reminds me of the happy moments that I have experienced so far. It makes me grateful for the things that I already have. Gratitude is so powerful. It helps ground you. Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. Sometimes watching your favorite feel good movie also helps. If reading your favorite book uplifts you, then pick up the book and start reading it. If taking a stroll along your neighborhood makes you feel relaxed, then get out of your house and enjoy the breeze outside. Do whatever makes you feel better. Sometimes, simply spending time alone may be the best way to clear your mental clutter and regain personal energy. If working out makes you feel recharged, then put on those workout clothes and head over to your gym or workout at your home. Taking a break from thinking continuously about the disappointment, recharging yourself with the activities that you love the most is the best strategy. Once you are recharged and out of that negative mood, then you are ready to work on the same goal. So, here you go with step 4.
Step 4 : Refocus
When you are disappointed, your source of disappointment is rooted in your attachment to a certain outcome. When the outcome does not happen the way you envisioned, you become disappointed. This is a perfectly natural response. So, it is better to focus on your actual desire rather than some shiny goal. Consider a simple example. You are looking for a new job opportunity that provides you more opportunity to use your skills. You went for a job interview. You tried your best but somehow you did not get the job. You are completely disappointed. But tell me one thing, your desire is to find a job that provides more opportunities for your skills. So, rather than getting disappointed about a lost opportunity, isn’t it better to focus on finding a new job opportunity? Finding your focus back is a crucial step in getting over your disappointment.
Treat yourself like a friend. Allow yourself to falter, to make mistakes, to take on challenges and when you have a setback, regroup yourself together with kind words, words of encouragement. Get some perspective. If you are disappointed by someone else, then try to understand their situation, focus on the good rather than the disappointing things. Disappointment can ripple through to the core of who you are. If you don’t know what your core values are, you may not have a framework to support you when you experience negative emotions. If you don’t know your exact goal, your path, if you keep losing focus from your goal, your desire then you will keep getting trapped under never ending disappointment. Can you normalize the situation? Disappointment is not a very rare or unique emotion, everyone experiences it. So, why should we give too much importance and energy to think about it? How about we focus more on the big picture? Having a way to move forward when you’ve been disappointed and feel stuck is important. Don’t make grand plans – “I’m going to move to another country and start another life” – unless you have the will and the means to do so. Instead, start small; set a goal of something you can accomplish and move confidently in the direction of it. Focus on those small goals, rejoice those small victories. Experiencing some form of accomplishment can send the message to your mind and your emotions that you can do it, so go ahead and do it! Every time you are disappointed, you get consumed by the negative emotions. Sometimes we lose our purpose and we start thinking as if everything is completely shattered and that’s when you really need step 5.
Step 5 : Self esteem
Improving your self-esteem will help you to avoid getting dragged down too far into self-criticism and negative emotions after a disappointment. Life is going to test you. There are going to be challenges. Saying positive words, words of encouragement, treating yourself with empathy especially after a heartbreaking disappointment is the most needed step in the journey of dealing with disappointment. You are not your mistakes, these are what you did, not who you are. Your value doesn't decrease based on some small failures, setbacks. Having a high self esteem is especially required when you are dealing with disappointment. Practice self acceptance. You have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. How about now you try accepting yourself the way you are with all your accomplishments, with all your failures, with all your mistakes and see if that works like magic. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
Life can be hard and disappointing, but it is also beautiful. Disappointment reminds us to keep going in the face of failure. Disappointment is a part of life, and it can be difficult to go through. It’s natural for us to feel frustrated and angry after experiencing an emotional setback. Just remember one last thing, “Every disappointment gives you the opportunity to make another appointment. The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.”