We all have hopes and/or expectations about a wide variety of things and experiences in life. Sometimes our hopes and expectations are met or exceeded, while other times they fall short or completely miss the mark altogether. I have yet to meet someone able to say all their hopes and expectations have been met 100% of the time. We all experience being let down, displeased or unfulfilled. We all experience disappointment. I will even be bold and state, disappointment is a part of life.
Think about what disappointments you have experienced. Were they unique to one another? Would you consider them as different levels of disappointment? Possibly some disappointments feel much worse and impact you more negatively than others? Likely, that is a yes. For example, when your favorite sports team loses a game, you may feel disappointed, but that level of disappointment is likely on a smaller scale in comparison to a cheating spouse or not receiving the promotion you applied for.
Experiencing disappointment is not a joyous experience. People don’t typically celebrate being let down, displeased or unfulfilled. I have attended a party to celebrate a promotion, but I have never attended a party to celebrate not getting a promotion, and I bet you haven’t either. Although we all experience disappointment with different degrees of impact, it is also true that some people recover more quickly than others when they experience disappointment. Why is that?
Resilience, that’s how. People who are resilient possess the capacity to recover quickly from challenges. Resilience is a life skill that can be developed.
Here are 3 ways to become more resilient and overcome disappointment when it arises in your life:
#1 View everything as a learning opportunity.
Every life experience, good and bad, is an opportunity to learn and grow. Whether a product, service, individual, or experience has caused your disappointment, we can choose how disappointment will influence our thoughts, feelings and actions. We can chose learning and growth instead of self-sabotage and negativity.
Remember to focus on these simple questions to create a learning and growth-oriented perspective in the face of disappointment.
- What did I learn?
- How did I grow?
- What would I do differently next time?
Being able to learn and grow is an empowering characteristic, and focusing on those components of disappointment will help create resilience.
#2 Adjust your course.
Sometimes, disappointment requires us to analyze our hopes and expectations about something or a situation. Reflecting and analyzing is vital to recovering from challenges quicker and easier. Think about this simple example. The sole in your favorite pair of shoes wears away and you need to throw them away. You are disappointed. You hoped they would last forever. Is that hope realistic? Of course not. You may be disappointed, but after analysis of that hope for your shoes, you realize your expectation may have been a bit off.
Another example, imagine being disappointed about not receiving a promotion at work. You applied and you expected to get it, but instead you received the dreaded email, “Thank you for applying. We considered every applicant carefully, but we regret to inform you…” You know the rest. You expected to get the job, but why did you expect to be chosen over the other applicants? You don’t know the other candidate’s education or experience. Although you are disappointed, you can adjust your course and create a plan to enhance your skills and become a better candidate for the next promotion opportunity.
This is also applicable to personal relationships. Have you ever felt disappointed by a partner, spouse, parent, friend, or child? I have, and I know you have too. Did you ever discover your hopes or expectations were too low or too high? It happens. Adjusting your course can be as simple as having a conversation about a disappointment and seeking a solution with the other party involved.
The questions listed above are a great place to start this process. Using the answers to the questions can help you formulate a plan to adjust your course and develop resilience.
#3 Manage emotions.
We are emotional beings. Emotions are powerful and can dictate how we think, feel and react in certain situations. Disappointment can create feelings of guilt, shame, anger, resentment, frustration, or sadness. These are all emotions that we would prefer not to experience in great depth or for long durations. The bottom line, disappointment doesn’t create positive emotions, and therefore we need to be even more careful to consciously manage our emotions in the face of disappointment. Disappointment doesn’t have to break our spirit and sabotage our innate ability to overcome challenges and obstacles. It only has that ability if we allow it to. Here are 3 steps to help you manage your emotions.
Step One: Create awareness of how you feel.
Noticing what you are thinking and feeling is the first step to managing your emotions. When you admit disappointment is creating unwanted emotions, you are able to begin to shift negative feelings to positive.
Step Two: Take action.
Taking action is key to managing your emotions. Action can include a wide variety of options: having a conversation with someone, developing a plan to adjust your course, focusing on gratitude, spending time doing something you enjoy, journaling about your positive attributes, hiring a mentor, or seeking support from a friend or family member. Most importantly, give yourself permission to feel negative emotions, but love yourself through them by intentionally creating an opportunity to shift your emotions into a positive state.
Step Three: Check-in with yourself.
As discussed, disappointment can have different levels of impact. Some disappointments are easier to move on from, while others linger and have a greater impact. By checking-in with yourself, you can create awareness and take action as many times as you need to until the disappointment has no power over you anymore.
In summary, although we do not desire to be let down in any way, disappointment happens. Developing resilience can enable you to bounce back from disappointment quicker and easier. Remember that you always have the power of choice in any situation. Chose to view everything as a learning and growing experience, adjust your course and manage your emotions. Next time disappointment arises in your life, take control of it instead of it taking control of you. You got this you resilient warrior!