The best way to deal with disappointment
I used to quit everything. Recently, I’ve realized this is because I didn’t know how to deal with disappointment.
Before I met my husband, I’d never had a boyfriend or job for longer than 3 months.
Even more fun, I once lived in seven states in four years.
I’d get bored or things would feel hard or I’d just… want to give up. So I did.
But I’ve shifted that. I’m now decidedly not a quitter. I’ve been married for almost 6 years, lived in one place for five years, and have been blogging regularly for two years.
Still, while having a down time recently, I had that profound realization: I had no idea how to respond to disappointment.
I’m well acquainted with all my other emotions. Sadness. Anger. Guilt. Fear.
Why is disappointment so hard to hold space for?
Part of the trouble with disappointment is that we think it confirms our worst fears.
That we’re not good enough or that good things aren’t possible for us, or that the universe wants to shove our faces in the dirt while joyfully elevating others, champagne classes tilted in celebration.
Disappointment relates to shame, the fear that some part of us makes us unworthy of love and is therefore unworthy of joy or success. Disappointment is essentially the feeling that our shame is not just a baseless fear, but a reality.
If you deal with disappointment a lot, or have trouble sticking with things, you might inquire about your default relationship to possibility.
Do you believe good things are possible for you? Or do you view disappointment as proof that no, you never will take a step up toward joy?
To open yourself up to love, joy and success, you must cultivate a seed of belief within. I know it’s hard if you’ve experienced a lot of disappointment, but it’s also imperative. The steps below will help you do that.
To experience something, to commit, you must first believe it’s possible. We all experience times of disbelief, and that’s okay. What’s more important is your ability to rebound, to put disappointment in perspective and try again.
Ready to learn how?
Here’s how to navigate disappointment:
1. Feel it.
Give this feeling space to exist. Notice how it feels in your body. Use the Feeling Awareness technique I teach to place your awareness on your heart center and merge into the energy of disappointment.
Feeling the pain will hurt and feel scary, but the only way to move through it is to fully feel it. Otherwise it will continue to control you.
Use your presence to detach from your thoughts about the disappointment, and eventually the feeling will subside.
Download a free, 10-minute audio of the meditation technique to help you deal with disappointment below.
Feeling the pain will hurt and feel scary, but use your presence to detach from your thoughts about it, and eventually the feeling will subside.
2. Identify the story around it.
Separating thoughts from feelings is the core process of transcending unconscious responses and creating new, empowered ones.
So once you feel the disappointment until it begins to dissolve, write in your journal or talk out loud to yourself (this is surprisingly effective) all the thoughts you have around the emotion.
3. Remember that disappointment is universal.
One of the most powerful ways to stay sane while opening yourself up to feel emotional pain is to remind yourself that everyone feels disappointment.
It’s a natural part of life, and only means that you tried something you really care about. This feeling doesn’t mean your desires aren’t possible, but simply aren’t your reality in this moment.
4. Put it in perspective.
Disappointment results from crushed expectations. Accepting our feelings about disappointment helps us accept the circumstances. It’s important to recognize that it’s not reality that needs to change, but our expectations.
Whatever is happening is okay. It’s either a blessing or a lesson, but whatever is, is exactly where we’re supposed to be.
Your dreams, whatever they are, can still come true, just maybe not in the timeframe or the exact way you originally imagined. Or if someone disappointed you, it’s a chance to have an honest conversation and learn more about the true nature of your relationship.
Work with what you have. Peace and happiness comes from fully accepting the present moment and creating with it like a sculptor molds clay.
Life is your creation. It just requires patience and fortitude. You can do it. Release comparison and trust the process.
5. Decide your next step.
If you’re disappointed in a person, it may be helpful to have an honest conversation about how you feel. Express your hopes and why you feel let down.
If that’s not possible, you may need to re-evaluate the relationship rather than continue to offer your heart up to get broken. Like Oprah said, believe who someone is the first time they show you.
If you’re disappointed by how a heart-fuelled effort did or didn’t turn out, connect to your why.
The thing is, not everything is worth your time.
I was recently going to start a podcast interviewing people about how they transformed their pains into purpose, but it was hard to get people locked in for interviews. I felt disappointed, the voices in my head created their story, but ultimately I realized that I want to save my energy for other things.
On the other hand, with other efforts that left me feeling disappointed, I reminded myself of my passion and purpose. Connect to a why so deep that nothing outside can unroot you.
My “why” is that sharing my heart, connecting with you, it means everything to me. It keeps me sane, helps me process my life and ideas, gives me purpose and just makes me feel something so deep that I can’t even describe it.
So I’m not recommending that you never quit. Sometimes it’s wise to quit. Sometimes it’s a call to shift your efforts.
It’s important to know your values and what you truly want in life and not to quit because you’re disappointed.
Quit because you’d rather do something else, not because you’re unconsciously reacting to emotional pain you don’t want to feel.
Reconnect to what matters, listen to your heart, and follow the next steps.
If you’d like more help understanding the messages of your heart, I have an amazing training for you!
In it, you’ll learn step-by-step my unique, powerful process for self-inquiry and instant epiphanies. Check out this training here: How To Use Meditation For Deep Inner Work.
What’s your experience with disappointment? Share in the comments below.
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