6 Strategies for Coping with Disappointments
Source: Tim Samuel/Pexels
When results don’t meet our expectations, when our hopes are rejected, we experience disappointment—a characteristic combination of frustration, sadness, loss, and anger that can impact future behavior.
We can feel disappointment at a range of outcomes – large, small and in between. The greater the discrepancy between results and expectations, the greater the disappointment. Coping with our disappointments helps us in the short term by softening the initial sting of an uncomfortable outcome. And it helps in the long run by showing that avoiding disappointment shouldn’t stop us from seeking change and opportunity.
Here are six strategies for dealing with disappointment.
1. Remembering why we took the opportunity in the first place
After a disappointment, it makes sense to put the result aside for a moment and remember the reasons and motivation for our efforts. Most of us are focused on getting through the present, so afterwards it’s exhausting to remember what led to our actions. Results often obscure the primary influences.
By going back in time and restoring the original context, we can better understand our initial choices. In this way, we can accurately assess our reasons and motivations after the fact, without the influence of prejudice.
2. Acknowledgment of our feelings
We really wanted the job and the rejection was uncomfortable. We shouldn’t dwell on the outcome, but we shouldn’t jump into hasty positivity either. When we accept the feeling of disappointment, no matter how painful it may be, we can better understand our disappointment.
This understanding then removes the power of disappointment and reduces its future impact, opening us up to a wider range of possibilities later. Knowing what disappointment feels like makes it less threatening when deciding future endeavors. Additionally, recognizing our disappointment generally makes us more confident.
3. Assessing our expectations
Were our expectations realistic? Depending on our response, we may change our approach or expectations. in the Worstward Ho, Samuel Beckett wrote: “Try again. Failed again. Better to fail.” Although Beckett was not intending to inspire, his words can be interpreted that way. And they can also be expanded. Try again. Failed again. Better to fail. Try again differently, possibly successful.
We can also consider making the same effort while lowering our expectations of success, thereby reducing disappointment when the outcome is the same. We shouldn’t repeat this strategy too often, but sometimes it’s useful to take the attitude that it couldn’t hurt, so it’s worth trying again.
When people say, “I’m so disappointed in you,” that disappointment is also an interaction between expectations and effort to achieve results. was her expectations reasonable?
Source: Yon Kukov/Pexels
4. Limitation of extrapolation
Rejection of one proposal does not mean rejection of the next one. Being rejected from a graduate program – or five – doesn’t mean we should stop applying. Even after a whole round of cancellations, we can talk to professors and other students to get feedback. And with this new knowledge, we can apply to other programs the following year or change our approach. Also don’t interpolate. A disappointing result does not make a person a disappointment.
5. Realignment of events
After a disappointing result, we can focus on finding value. This rephrasing is neither denial nor mild positivism. (“It should be so.”) It’s a solid and specific reinterpretation. If an ambitious proposal is rejected, we can appreciate the additional time available for other desirable activities.
More broadly, disappointment teaches us that we can overcome disappointment and build resilience.
Restating major disappointments can allow us to devote energy to new possibilities. Restating small frustrations in our daily lives can lead to immediate improvements with long-term benefits. Granted, this is a small event, but I went bowling with a friend whose superior athletics were tangible, amazing, and unbeatable. Instead of trying to win, I took the opportunity to practice different methods of spinning the ball. I lost spectacularly but improved my game.
Viewing such small losses as disappointments weakens the power to call an outcome disappointing—for larger events.
6. Consider probabilities
Apply the laws of probability, the most reliable laws on earth. The sun will rise early tomorrow, but chances are we won’t see a rainbow. When we engage in behaviors that are unlikely to succeed (e.g., sending unsolicited manuscripts to The New Yorker for publication), we will most likely be rejected. We can choose to move forward with the difficult opportunity and lower our expectations of success, reducing disappointment. Or we can keep our expectations and try a more likely endeavor, such as B. Submission to a local publication or an online platform that encourages new authors.
On the other hand, if we really expected a favorable outcome and thought we had it, the laws of probability also tell us that unlikely events will happen every now and then. The turkey that sees the farmer every day and gets feed does not expect what will happen the day before Thanksgiving when the farmer comes without feed.
Our disappointments aren’t that bad—perhaps an unexpected loss of funding for a new position, or the sudden reappearance of an old romantic partner of the person we’re dating. But in these unlikely cases, we should always look back and recognize that the unusual and improbable can happen.
We can deal with disappointments and not let them dampen the vibrancy of our lives.