Dealing with Disappointment in Life: 10 Tips for Disappointing Moments

Rachel Sharpe
Rachel Sharpe

No one wants to deal with disappointment. But when you’re living on a planet of seven billion people, odds are that sometimes things just aren’t going to go your way. While you may be dealing with disappointment today, it’s important to remember that this won’t be the last time something like this happens. Life is a rollercoaster filled with some incredible moments and some less than spectacular ones. In this article, we’re going to share how to deal with disappointment so it doesn’t turn a bad situation into a worse one. We hope that the points in this article allow you to see that a frustrating situation doesn’t need to be a catastrophic one. So, let’s dive into some things to help you cope with disappointment.

10 Tips For When Dealing With Disappointment 

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1. Remember That Things Are Understood In Hindsight

Sometimes we deal with disappointment when we really don’t need to. In the moment, it feels like a mix of emotions. Throw in some sadness, frustration, and maybe a bit of anger or rage. But then time passes, and we finally see that things actually worked out quite positively despite that disappointing moment. The problem with dealing with disappointment is that we’re trying to solve a problem before life finishes playing out. Since we’re horrible future predictors (all humans are, I mean even the Mayans got the end of the world wrong), we never know how to plot our next move. Should we get revenge? Should we tell someone off? Should we stand up for ourselves and get what’s ours? So many decisions to make and most of the time, they’re pretty toxic. No one ever thinks to themselves, how can I be grateful for this experience? What can I learn from this moment? Who can I thank for pushing me in a new direction that brings me closer to happiness? You will never get the hindsight lens in the present moment, so you need to make the best of a bad situation and try to focus on your growth or your betterment when dealing with disappointment. 

2. Acknowledge Your Feelings

Man staring off into the distance

And while you do want to focus on making the best of a bad situation, it’s important to remember that you’re still human. And as a human, you’re trapped in a body that feels a million different things at any given moment. Try to listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel rage enter your body, it may be a good idea to go for a run to let that rage flow through you instead of destroying all the happiness inside of you. If you feel like crying, then cry away. The body releases a ton of toxic chemicals in tears so you’ll actually feel a lot better but releasing the sadness naturally.

When dealing with disappointment, you might feel jealous of someone else’s success, accomplishment, or possessions. In this case, try to think of a time when you’ve accomplished something at the expense of someone else. Try to remember the joy you felt. Then, remember how all humans deserve to feel that joy as well. Try to think of something you’re grateful for in your life and wish that person all the happiness in the world. There’s always a healthy way to deal with negative situations, try to think of a positive way to handle your negative emotions that still acknowledges how you feel. And remember, it’s okay to listen to sad songs for an hour to let out all the negativity but eventually you’re going to have to turn it off or you’ll make yourself feel much worse. 

3. Find a New Way to Communicate Your Needs

When dealing with disappointment, sometimes the disappointment has less to do with us and more to do with other people. In this case, you may need to learn how to communicate your needs in a new way. Often, we communicate the same frustration over a million times only for a situation to never resolve itself. Unfortunately, if you keep communicating the same thing with limited results, you should probably try to find a new way of communicating as you aren’t being heard.

Some people don’t understand what the actual problem is because often we mask our real frustration under another layer. We say “you never clean up after yourself” when we really mean “I’m tired of being treated like your parent instead of your equal and cleaning up after you is burning me out.” The more we can pull out what we really want to say or how something makes us feel, the easier it is to fix a situation. And that can make dealing with disappointment easier, because now people know what the problem actually is and how to solve it.

Drop the wall you put up as well when communicating. Learn how to stop arguing and be more patient with people.

4. Avoid Catastrophizing

Woman looking upset while sitting at an outdoor dining table

In that moment where your whole world feels like it’s collapsing, the pain takes over creating a sense of panic. “Did that really just happen?” And in that moment, we’re like “okay, so this is awful, it can’t get any worse, right?” And then sometimes it does get worse. But usually if the situation gets worse, it’s often because our minds went off on a tangent and led us down the wrong path. We turn a bad situation and we make it worse with our thoughts alone. Have you ever started crying when nothing was happening only to realize you were crying because your thoughts were that toxic. Yeah, we’ve all been there. That’s how powerful our brains are. What we don’t want is for you to have your thoughts spiral you out of control because you’ve experienced a bit of disappointment.

Life has a funny way of working things out, so sometimes you just need to let the story unfold and see what happens next. One of the most powerful things to do when you deal with disappointment is to consume a bunch of really positive books. Don’t have conversations with people who will encourage you to get revenge. Don’t go on social media and consume a bunch of negative and hateful content. That kind of stuff will make you really sick and it’ll only make you hate yourself. Try to find ways to be super positive in this moment. How can this experience make you an even better person? Get your thoughts to come up with ideas for that and you’ll be on a healthy track. 

5. Look for the Lesson

When dealing with disappointment, take a moment to look for the hidden lesson. Is your mind immediately filling you up with mixed emotions? Try to find mental clarity in the situation. Maybe this is a sign that you need to work on improving your mindset. Maybe you learned not to handle a situation in a similar way. Our actions sometimes lead us down paths we don’t want to be. Is there a way to change our behavior to prevent future hiccups like this happening? Maybe we can’t undo the disappointing event but we can learn from it to better ourselves for future events (and more complicated events at that). You might not learn what the lesson is on day one. It might be ten years before your brain is ready to share that lesson with you. Believe me on that. But even the most horrible events can teach you a positive lesson that helps you improve yourself and life. 

6. Find Gratitude in What You Have

Gratitude journal laying on table

Sometimes when we experience disappointment, we realize we didn’t get what we want. Oh, what a blessing that can be sometimes. Life has a funny way of giving you something even better. And maybe today in this moment, you feel like sulking so you throw your little pity party to feel sad in the moment. But it’s so important to experience gratitude when disappointment strikes. Did your disappointment make someone else happier? Thank the universe for allowing someone to smile today. Did you have someone you could talk to about your disappointment. Wow! What an amazing thing to be grateful for. Did you take action to help you cope with disappointment? *cough cough* Maybe by reading this article. What a wonderful personality trait you have to take initiative to solve your own problems. That initiative will work quite well for you in future situations. Take some time to compile all the things in your life you’re grateful for. Or check out this gratitude list

7. Talk To An Objective Person About It

When dealing with disappointment, it’s important to talk it out with an objective person. Otherwise, you’ll try to deal with it yourself in your mind and usually that leads people astray quite fast. However, finding that objective person isn’t as simple as choosing someone you love. You might have to talk to a few different people before you find that one person who listens and provides objective advice. Of course, those closest to you will tell you you’re amazing when things go wrong. However, words of encouragement don’t solve problems.

If you experienced disappointment from a mistake you made, you need to learn how to correct that mistake so that you can turn a disappointing experience into a learning lesson. Everyone has that one friend who will tell them the truth when no one wants to hear them. It might be a good time to call that person up and get their opinion. If the disappointing situation is more severe or causing mental duress, it might be a good time to check in with a psychotherapist. 

8. Don’t Forget That You’re Still On The Right Track

Sand path in the middle of a field

Sometimes things don’t go our way, but the story’s not over yet. As the story unfolds, we begin to see how disappointing moments lead us down better or new paths. Maybe we experience disappointment in a relationship that leads us closer to a more compatible relationship. Or we experience a setback at work to get an even better promotion a year later. Sometimes, the disappointment makes us realize what we actually want. Other times, dealing with disappointment makes you realize you’re on the wrong path. However, that decision is up to you. Did you still have fun despite a disappointing result? Or were you unhappy prior to the big setback? Be honest with yourself about it. And then make your next move. 

9. Avoid Going Down A Negative Thought Spiral

The worst thing you can do when dealing with disappointment is allow your thoughts to take over your life. But let’s be honest, we’ve all done this before. So if you find yourself doing this, know that you’re human but also that it’s an unhealthy thing to do. When you experience disappointment, you’ll often beat yourself up in your head. And the crazy thing is that those thoughts will create your reality. So if you tell yourself you’re worthless, you’ll stop valuing yourself to make yourself become worthless. Our thoughts dictate our actions. If we have positive thoughts, we’ll take positive actions. If we have negative thoughts, we’ll take negative actions. Ultimately, you need to remind yourself that the person in charge is you, not those thoughts that run through your head all day long. When an unhelpful or toxic thought enters your mind, you need to say ‘nope, try again, new thought please’ and think of a more helpful or supportive thought. 

10. Practice Meditation

Woman sitting in the dark practicing meditation

When dealing with disappointment, it’s important to practice meditation. Often times, in the heat of the moment, we say or do things that help no one, not even ourselves. Sometimes disappointing moments lead to acts of revenge that you’ll later regret. Instead, a meditation practice can help you achieve mental clarity, pull yourself together, and direct some loving-kindness towards someone who may be better off than you in this moment of disappointment. You can use the Declutter The Mind app to follow along to a meditation practice on difficult days. On days where you feel like throwing in the towel or calling it quits, you can follow along to a guided meditation for anxiety, anger, or whatever emotion you’re feeling. 

Conclusion

Dealing with disappointment doesn’t need to be an end of a chapter or the collapse of who you are. We all deal with disappointment in our lives. And that’s the beauty of life. Sometimes, things go in the opposite direction than we’ve planned and we actually end up better off. We might kick and scream about things not going our way in the moment, only to realize several years later that things actually did go our way. The pain and frustration of a disappointing moment are only temporary. So, when you experience one, remember that it won’t last. Talk it out with an objective friend, meditate to gain some mental clarity, minimize recycling toxic thoughts in your head, and remember that you might still be on the right track.

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