Disappointment is a stressful emotion that all of us experience. The flip side of hope and expectation, it can leave you feeling depressed, fragile, and vulnerable. That feeling of let down takes you off balance and makes you feel uprooted and stressed like you just want to duck under the covers and sleep until it passes.
Yet disappointment can be transformative because it helps uncover our emotional attachments. This is the essence of self-knowledge.
If you are living fully, taking risks and have high hopes for your life at times you are going to face disappointment. Things don’t always work out according to plans. We don’t win the lottery or Super Bowl, land the dream job and the love of our life doesn’t always come back. Feeling disappointment is part of being human. It’s a drag like a rainy day. Realize that and you can incorporate it as a possibility into your expectations which will lesson its sting.
Here are some other tips to help you navigate disappointment gracefully.
- Manage your emotions
When disappointment strikes name it. This brings the emotion into the thinking part of your brain, which lessons its impact. Then notice where in your body you are feeling disappointment. Is it a tightening in your chest or throat or perhaps a pain in the pit of your stomach. Soften that part of your body, soothe yourself and then rather than pushing the emotion away let it be.
- Be aware
The more aware you are of all your wants and desires the easier it is to see your own expectations as they arise. Rather than becoming attached to a specific outcome loosen up and open up to what is truly best for you.
- Let go
While it’s tempting to wallow in disappointment let it go. Holding on to disappointment and looking for someone to blame keeps you from healing and moving on. So forgive yourself and everyone else involved.
- Don’t take it personally
Taking things personally narrows your view, keeps you stuck and prevents you from gaining wisdom. Shit happens! Rather than beating yourself up and feeling like a failure or that you’re not good enough know that’s the nature of the Universe. There’s light and darkness.
- Step away
Create space. Look at the big picture by viewing the situation from a deeper, more meaningful perspective. Get creative and curious. Ask yourself: “How else could I view this? “What would my five-year-old self or dog say?” or “How is this going to look a year form now?”
- Trade rumination for meditation
Rumination keeps you stuck. So rather then chewing that disappointment over and over again in your mind calm your mind with meditation. Follow your breath for a few minutes allowing thoughts to come and go like clouds in the sky. Or try META meditation by offering peace, loving kindness, safety, health, happiness and compassion to yourself, others that you know and all beings. You’ll dissipate the disappointment and feel calm and connected.
- Get support
Talk to a good friend, family member, coach or therapist.
- Practice self-compassion
During times of disappointment, treat yourself like a good friend with kindness rather than criticism. Try Hand on Heart. Love and accept yourself and your life exactly as it is. Ask yourself: What do I need right now to get back on my feet?” Then do it!
During times of deep disappointment soothe yourself with the thought that you are growing and learning valuable lessons. When you’re done cursing fate get up apply what you have learned and plow ahead. All those clichés are true: The sun will come out tomorrow and there is a silver lining.
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