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  • Writer's pictureGeorgiana Cameron

Dealing with disappointment

Disappointment is a difficult emotion. We have an idea of what we hope will happen in the future...and then it doesn’t.

Disappointment can be particularly crushing when we are striving towards dreams we care deeply about. It can really derail us from the path we have chosen.

As an emotion it sits close to regret and self-doubt, and can catapult us into a low state. So how do we stop one emotion from completely derailing us?

Use disappointment as a moment to stop and recalibrate. Wait for the sting to subside. Then ask yourself whether what you’ve been doing is really what you want? How does it align to your values? What impact is this choice having on you, is it worth it in the long term?

  • Adjust your expectations. When we really want something, we tend to be overly optimistic about being able to achieve it. It’s important to recognise how much we do this. Over ambitious, idealistic and optimistic planning can have a toxic effect on our wellbeing.

  • Review your options. There are many roads that lead to Rome and sometimes we really need to consider alternative routes which you might not have noticed, take longer or look less attractive.

  • Accept disappointment as part of the path. As soon as we aim to do anything we set ourselves up for possible disappointment. Disappointment is part and parcel of striving and learning. Disappointment communicates important information to us.

  • Consider causation. Understand that all problems arise from multiple causes. Catch yourself if you start thinking along the lines of “it’s all my fault, I’m not good enough”. Sometimes it’s just not the right time, more preparation is needed, you need more help or you just have some bad luck.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Often we make comparisons to others yet do not acknowledge the impact of everyone’s decisions and learning. If you choose to focus on family, there is less time to focus on career. People’s learning and development is often unseen.

  • Attack problems with zest. There’s a position called defensive pessimism which involves trying to anticipate possible problems and trying to solve them before they happen. Sometimes it can seem like a buzz kill when starting something new, but preparing for the worst yet expecting the best can be really effective in keeping us motivated and resilient.

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