Disappointment: Your Loyal Companion
“Life often seems like a long shipwreck, of which the debris are friendship, glory,
and love; the shores of existence are strewn with them”. ~Mme. de Staël
We Have All Been There
We feel cheated inside. We feel as if we will never be happy again.
Whether someone we love deeply chooses to leave us, a dear friend or
loved one passes away or something we have been striving for doesn’t work
Opportunities for disappointment are plentiful and are around every corner it seems… just waiting to extinguish our hopes and our dreams.
Disappointment comes in all shapes and sizes and it can remain within us, shadowing our reactions to everything.
Sometimes disappointment is temporary and short lived. Yet, the questioning and wondering are just as real. It's like the time my four year old grandson's parents were late in picking him up. As he looked out the window for them, he innocently said to me, "Maybe they forgot they had a kid." Genuine disappointment.
Too often though, disappointment is more profound. You've invested so much.
For so long.
Do you feel like those closest to you rarely come through?
Were you expecting to get the job and someone less qualified was
Maybe you feel like a client who once told me: "Marriage is
such a disappointment. It’s nothing like I thought it would be."
Or after nine months, you came home from the hospital . . . alone. To an empty nursery. To your empty dreams. To an empty life.
You finally got your degree; but where are the jobs? You're wondering if it was all just a waste of time and money.
Did someone you planned on spending the rest of your life with tell you it’s over?
Perhaps you thought you'd be retired by now but it's just not possible. You wonder if it will ever happen.
Were you hoping a new relationship would work out?
Or maybe you lost your job and there's little hope of finding another one like it.. Where's the loyalty you ask?
Maybe your child's future didn't turn out like you'd hoped. "What went wrong?" you wonder. Will you blame yourself and say it was poor parenting?
Or, now that you're an adult, you realize your parents are human and you don't view them as your heros anymore. They have a long list of faults and annoyances. They mess up and disappoint you like everyone else.
Has the news of a medical diagnosis altered your
Do you feel like no one appreciates all of the hard work you do? You're disappointed that no one notices and you wonder if you'll ever get a break.
Or do you feel like you're nothing but a paycheck to your family?
And so you wonder . . . if you’ll ever stop feeling alone . . . and disappointed.
Whatever your circumstances might be, disappointment can generally be summed up by the following equation:
Shattered dreams,. Shattered plans. It's all changed now.
Another affirmation of failure, and you say to yourself, "I never measure up. Nothing but a loser." Why even try? What's the use? You feel depressed, defeated and hopeless. Life is full of heartache and disappointment isn't it?
Identify What You Are Feeling
When you are disappointed and let down, what are you feeling?
-Loss of self-esteem
-Feeling out of synch
-Confusion over what to do next
The effect of disappointment can impact your life as illustrated:
You might feel defeated and the illusion, the hope you have held on to for so long has been shattered.
Maybe you used to feel like what you had or what you hoped for was perfect. Now that perfect has been taken away from you, you choose middle of the road.
One thing is for sure; your feelings are complex and during this difficult time, you promise yourself you won't care so much in the future because you don't want to lose and feel this pain, ever again.
Express Your Feelings
Talk about your feelings of fear and anxiety rather than avoiding them. You'll feel more in control by expressing them and you'll move through all of your feelings more quickly by acknowledging them.
Explore the meaning your feelings have for you.
-You're disappointed. Define in specific terms what you have lost.
-You're confused and don't know which way to go now. Write down some options.
-You're frustrated. How did you move beyond frustration in your past?
-You're feeling anxious. Take some deep breaths. Imagine calming scenerios.
Exercise. Pray. Practice yoga. Talk to someone who understands. Replace negative
thoughts with positive and self-affirming statements.
_Your self-esteem has taken a big hit. Does that really mean you are a failure?
List some things you have succeeded at.
_What ever feelings you are experiencing, deconstruct them. Take them apart and
attempt to understand them. Then, seek to find your inner strengths that have
rescued you in the past. Apply those strengths to your current disappointment.
You are stronger than you think.
Your feelings can lead you to places you would otherwise never visit. . . .
. . . think about what you are learning from this experience. Acknowledge what's happened to you. Spend time in self-exploration. Identify your values and life goals.
Perhaps past failures bring up unresolved feelings buried deep within you. What disappointing memories do you have from your childhood? What was adolescence like for you? What feelings come to mind as you re-visit those memories?
Are you willing to let go of those disappointing feelings and images? How do they alter the way you see yourself today? You've changed so much over the years. You've grown. You're wiser now. Are you going to let what happened long ago continue to define you? Can you appreciate how far you've come?
It's time . . .
. . . to let it go.
To be human means you will face many challenges and bumps in the road. No one can teach you disappointment; you must experience it if you are to grow and develop understanding. Use this time to assess where your life is going. Every challenge and every disappointment is a stepping stone along the path of life . . . leading you to where you need to be.
At some point, make the decision to move forward. It's okay to look in the rear view mirror from time to time. But don't stay there. Move forward.
Steps You Can Take To Move Forward
Accept the change.
Accept that you might never understand what has happened.
Accept the future.
Give yourself time to heal and remind yourself often you will not feel this way forever. Recovering from your loss takes time and it occurs in stages. It can't be rushed.
It's a process.
Seek out others who will offer support to you. It can be tempting to put up walls and isolate yourself. Having access to a group or someone who has experienced a similar disappointment can be especially helpful. Seek out a mental health therapist who can provide an objective viewpoint. Knowing you have someone who listens and supports you can provide you with the strength and hope to see you through. Check in regularly with whoever supports you and let them know how you are doing. Talk about it!
Seeking support from others and gaining an objective viewpoint can provide clarity in the midst of confusion.
Direction removes confusion.
Put yourself in the other person's place. Remember, we're all human and none of us are perfect. And most likely, you've disappointed someone as well throughout your life. Try to understand their point of view.
What is your source of spiritual strength? Where do you go to find peace and comfort? Allow your faith to lift you up and to guide you. Pray and meditate. Ask for healing and hope.
Keep a collection of your thoughts and feelings by writing in a journal. Describe what happened. What was it like? Describe your feelings about your loss. What has been the impact on your life? What else have you lost because of it? Are your responses to this experience appropriate? What barriers stop you from moving on? What are 10 things you can do to help you in the process?
If your disappointment was caused by something you did, learn from your defeat. What will you do differently next time?
Take care of yourself. Going through disappointment is stressful work. Try to do something enjoyable each day. Give yourself something to look forward to. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and maintain a healthy diet.
Stay sober. Refrain from using alcohol and drugs. They will only make things worse.
Take one step at a time. You probably feel like you've lost some control. Identify one thing you have power over and break it down into specific, concrete steps. Write down each step and as you accomplish a step cross it off your list. This will help you to re-gain a sense of control.
Your disappointment will undoubtedly have an effect on those around you. They may have a difficult time dealing with your situation. Be patient with yourself. . . and with others.
Accept that others will not understand the depth of your loss. They might not understand why this is so difficult for you. And they will say stupid things.
Resilency Is Key
Resilency is the ability to bounce back from disappointment or a loss. How well developed are your resilency skills?
When things go wrong, how well do you adapt to unpleasant circumstances? Are you able to bounce back or are you deflated and helpless?
The good news is that resilency can be learned. With practice, you can learn to brush things off more easily and you can develop a more positive outlook. Change the lens you are looking through by implementing some life changing steps.
Here are a few suggestions provided by PsychCentral to improve your resilency skills.
(1) Learn how to put things in perspective.
Resilient people know the difference between a disappointment and a tragedy.
They let mole hills be mole hills and save their energy for the mountains. This is easier said than done. A disappointment, especially a big disappointment can
loom large at the time. Resilient people learn to ask themselves “What’s the worst thing that will happen now?”
Three or four? It depends on perspective.
(2) Practice being an optimist.
Resilient people believe that life is essentially good. They are masters at finding the silver lining in even the darkest cloud. A resilient person is someone who finds a positive way to understand even the most difficult obstacle or hurt.
(3) Develop your sense of humor.
Resilient people can appreciate the absurd in difficult situations. When all
else fails, they can even laugh at their own inability to laugh.
(4) Embrace Change
Resilient people aren’t upset by change. In fact, they often thrive on it. To them change equals opportunity. Making it in life often means getting out of our own comfort zone. Life does us the great favor of giving us loads of opportunities to do just that – like it or not. Those who embrace change when it happens and invite it when it doesn’t are more likely to succeed.
In Time . . . You Will Heal
And one day, in the midst of your daily routine, you will realize . . .you are beginning to feel hopeful.
You will notice you aren't feeling so bad about yourself and your self-esteem is stronger.
You will begin to develop an optimistic view of your future.
You will tell yourself: "I'm going to be okay." And, you believe it!
Recovering from a major disappointment does not occur in a neat and orderly fashion. It hurts. And it's painful. You will probably move a few steps forward and then a few steps back; re-experiencing emotions and feelings you thought you had put behind you. That's okay. Remain there for a time and then move on.
And be sure to . . .
take care of yourself!
If you are having a difficult time recovering from a disappointment, or if you would like to receive counseling for other concerns, please contact me through my website at:
or by email at:
Take a Quiz to Assess Your Resilency Skills:
Other articles on disappointment and resilency you may enjoy:
Ahern, C. (2013, April 3). Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/677571-truth-is-something-that-i-thought-was-perfect-was-taken
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2013, April 13). Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/survival-of-the-resilient/all/1/
Krauss, N. (2013, April 3). Retrieved from
Kraft, V. (2013, April 10). Retrieved from http://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-14-dealing-disappointment
Lucado, M. (2013, April 6). Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2737.Max_Lucado
Northern Kentucky University. (2013, April 14). Retrieved from http://www.nku.edu/~hcp/counselingservices/clienteducation/howtomoveondisappoin.php
Quotesbuddy.com (2013, April 6). Retrieved from http://www.quotesbuddy.com/quotes/smile-quotes/
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 911, a crisis center or your local emergency. My blogs are not intended to serve as a replacement for psychotherapy.
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