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Are you disappointed in yourself or others?

Your project doesn’t turn out to be as successful as you expected it to be.

People in your life fail to do what they promised. Or you hope others would do something you have in mind, but they don’t?

Disappointment can come from our job, friendships, family, love relationships, and even self-expectations. How do we handle and cope with disappointment? How do we let it go?

Before we explore the different ways to deal with disappointment, let’s understand why it’s important to manage your disappointment.

Dealing with Disappointment: Why Is It Important?

Disappointment is the emotion that most people want to avoid. Some people would rather feel unhappy, sad, or overwhelmed with their life than feel disappointed. That’s because disappointment is the doorway to many other negative emotions.

Disappointment can lead to other negative emotions.

Disappointment, if not attended to or handled properly, can easily lead to other emotions such as anger, depression, and apathy.

From my own experience, I discovered that denying our feelings only leads to more suffering. I was disappointed when I didn’t get the job I was promised. But instead of dealing with it, I ignored it. Later, it grew into something so big which I couldn’t manage. And I ended up sinking into depression. 

Fear of disappointment can stop you from growing.

Another way in which people avoid feeling disappointed is to have no goal, no purpose, no desire in life. People don’t set goals at the start of every year anymore. They have given up on new year resolutions. Not because they don’t know how to set goals. It’s because they are afraid to disappoint themselves. They are afraid they are not going to meet their expectations.

There’s a saying, “no expectations, no disappointment”. If you don’t have any expectations for anything, you will have no disappointment, right? It’s true that without expectations, you won’t be disappointed. However, having no expectations doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any goals. Expectations and goals are not the same.

Furthermore, when you deny your real desires, you aren’t living authentically. Yes, you were hurt in a relationship. You were disappointed by what happened. But that doesn’t mean you give up on relationships even when the right person comes along.

What you could have done instead is learn how to get past your fear of disappointment and understand how to deal with it when it comes.

How to Get Over Disappointment and the Fear of Being Disappointed

1. Accept your disappointment.

One important lesson I learned from emotions is you need to accept them.

Recently, I read a book called, Peace is Every Breath by Thich Nhat Hanh. In the book, the author describes anger as a crying baby. When you have a crying baby at home, what do you do? You attend to it. You care about it. It’s the same for emotions. When your emotions arise, they are actually calling for help. So attend to those emotions. Don’t numb them. Don’t ignore them.

Denying your emotions doesn’t help.

Denying the baby’s cry for attention doesn’t change the fact that the baby is crying. It also doesn’t stop the baby from crying. Give your emotions the attention they need. Observe them as they come and go. Sit with them and listen to their pain like a caring friend. Allow whatever emotions that follow disappointment to come. Comfort them if necessary. But don’t react to them.

Once they are done with it, they will feel much better and they will leave.

2. Leverage higher vibrational energy.

When you are feeling disappointed, getting back to peace may not be intuitive for some. An alternative way to get over disappointment is to leverage higher vibrational energy to get you out of the low energy state that you are in. There’s a couple of ways to do this.

The first method is taught by Jack Canfield, the author of The Success Principles. According to his Emotional Scale Chart, the next emotions on the scale above disappointment are frustration, irritation, impatience, and feeling overwhelmed.

Feeling frustrated with your situation is actually better than staying disappointed.

You can try it for yourself. Instead of feeling disappointed, replace it with frustration. Imagine how frustrated you are to be in your situation. You probably have more energy to take action and make a change. That could get you out of disappointment. From there, you can move up the scale level by level. Clean up your emotions every time you feel disappointed.

Find out more about the Emotional Scale Chart here.

The second method is taught by Tony Robbins, the author of Awaken the Giant Within. I learned this from his seminar. It’s about changing your physiology. When you feel disappointed, what does your body tend to do? Your head will probably be lowered. Your shoulders will probably collapse. You are likely to feel a lack of energy.

Your physical body can affect your emotions.

What if now I ask you to jump around in your house? Can you jump and feel disappointed at the same time? You can’t. It works both ways. Your emotions affect your physiology and your physiology affects your emotions. Getting yourself into motion changes your mood and help you shake off those low-energy emotions.

I’ve tried both of these methods myself and they worked. However, they are more like short-term solutions. You can’t jump around all the time. And when you are disappointed, the last thing you want to do is to move about. Ultimately, you still have to deal with the root cause of your disappointment which is your expectations.

3. Manage your expectations.

What is a disappointment? Disappointment is just an expectation you have which is not met. That’s all it is. It doesn’t mean:

  • You are not good enough.
  • Your friends and family don’t care about you anymore.
  • You are not important to your partner.

Draw meanings and conclusions from unmet expectations will make you feel worse about yourself. Unmet expectations are not something to be blown out of proportion. Adopt these wise teachings from the book, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz:

  • Don’t take anything personally.
  • Don’t make assumptions.

And you will find yourself more peaceful.

I get it. People disappoint you. Friends forget your birthday. Friends have not been contacting you for a long time. Your family doesn’t have time for you. They need to work. They can’t go on holiday with you. Your partner is not as ideal as you thought. The one you love has flaws.

But feeling disappointed has nothing to do with other people.

It has everything to do with your expectations. Managing your disappointment is about managing your expectations. Understand that what makes you stuck is your expectations, not other people.

Since there’s no way you can control other people, why not change your expectations?

Ask yourself, “Are your expectations realistic?” Even though you can do something, doesn’t mean that other people can do the same or will do the same. Let go of what you think things should be and you will let go of your disappointment.

The best is to live without expectations. But if you find that challenging, try lowering or changing your expectations for a start.

4. Stay open to changes.

Our mind is a very efficient yet flawed instrument. (Read The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli to find out the 99 errors that our mind makes). Once it gets used to something, it creates a pattern in our head. It doesn’t want to waste any calories processing similar information again. The pattern becomes a mental shortcut for the mind.

However, things are different most of the time, regardless of how similar they seem. 

Just because your business is doing well this year, doesn’t mean it will do well next year. Just because you have written a bestseller doesn’t mean that your next book will be a bestseller. And even if you are happy right now, doesn’t mean that you will be happy in the future.

It’s not about being pessimistic. There’s no way you can be sure of the outcome in the future. No matter how good your financial investor is at predicting the stock prices, he can’t be 100% correct. And what makes you happy today may not make you happy tomorrow.

Things change. Seeing things for what they are, not what you expect them to be.

One reason why I love the show Survivor is that it’s unpredictable. You don’t know what new twist the castaways are going to get. Every time, the castaways are comfortable in their situations, things change and they are forced to adapt. That’s just how life is. Just when you think that your life is comfortable and perfect. Something comes up (an illness, a loved one passed away, economic crisis) and disrupts your life.

It’s not that life is trying to be mean here. It’s just how life is. Things always change and it’s up to you to either adapt or suffer.

Only when you are open to changes will your life be free of suffering. If you want to get over disappointment in your life, be receptive. Always stay open to whatever life throws you, accept every moment as it is and disappointment will be rare.

5. Fail courageously.

You have high expectations for yourself, you have great ideas, but you failed to meet your expectations. It makes you feel like a failure. How do you deal with failure and disappointment?

Both success and failure are secondary.

These are some questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Why do you start your writing project?
  • Why do you create a business or a company?
  • Would you still do what you do if you know it may fail?

Some people never start anything new because they expect their ideas won’t work, so they don’t bother. Others execute their ideas because they expect it will work. It will earn them an extra income or it will help their community. I, too, used to work on my goals believing they will work if I take action.

However, now I realize that success and failure are secondary. Who knows whether my idea will be a success or not? No one. The only way to know is to take a chance and test it out.

Giving life to an idea is primary.

I work on goals because I’m making my ideas come alive. Giving my ideas life is primary. Since the idea chose me, and I decided to create it, I’ll finish it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. The outcome shouldn’t be the main concern. What’s important is the things I’ve learned from the process. I can always make changes later to improve it.

Furthermore, if it doesn’t work the first time, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work the second time. (Even though it also doesn’t mean it will work the second time!) Your job is to not let your fear of disappointment stop you from giving life to your idea.

Let go of both your positive and negative expectations. Sometimes, you will fail. And sometimes you will succeed. Either way, dare greatly and fail courageously. (Read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and Rising Strong.)

Featured Photo Credit: I just want to be happy. / .bravelittlebird