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Coping with Disappointment




by Annette Colby, RD -

On your journey through life, you will undoubtedly face disappointment, both large and small. In fact, the more you aspire to step into a greater life, the greater the risk you face of being disappointed.

However, it's how you deal with it that counts. Disappointment can build character and patience when allowed to do so.

 It can teach you to learn from your setbacks, accept life with all its unanticipated disappointments, and come out the other side stronger.

Below are six powerful steps to help you cope with disappointment.



COPING STEPS

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Automatic Coping Actions 

Disappointment is a very difficult experience to endure. It's very easy to perceive disappointment as an unalterable failure. Disappointment can feel so overwhelmingly bad that your first automatic reaction might be to soothe yourself with some old tried and true coping strategy.

 Perhaps you find yourself overeating ice cream for comfort, going to bed to escape life, or drinking away your disappointment. Falling into an old comfort habit is fine, but it's not fine to remain there.

When you realize what you have done, let yourself know that it is okay that you checked out for a while. You're back now. And just because you overate or indulged yourself in a numbing or avoidance action, doesn't mean your disappointment is gone.

It's still there inside of you, waiting for you to process it in an appropriate manner. When the effect of your coping strategy starts to wear off, take a deep breath and deal with your disappointment in positive, new ways.

Step 2: Acknowledge What You Feel 

To move through your disappointment, begin from where you are. Whatever you are feeling is your starting place. Disappointment is a rotten sensation and if you are in an emotional uproar, that is acceptable. You feel what you feel.

There's no need to be nice, or quiet, or suppressed. Instead of numbing out or avoiding what is real, express your pain. Cry if you want to cry, cuss at the unfairness of your situation, scream at the top of your lungs, beat a pillow or write a raging letter about your disappointment.

The point is not to blame, punish, or dump your feelings on anyone. Your purpose is to be honest with yourself about what you are feeling. If you feel hate, bitterness, self-pity, helplessness, or even desire revenge, then that is what you feel.

Express yourself to yourself, get it out into the open, then move on to the next step.

Step 3: Put Things into Perspective 

At first, your disappointment can feel like the end of the world. It's not easy to accept that you've worked hard to attain a certain outcome and now you face disappointment.

Let yourself know that while your disappointment feels bad, this kind of thing happens to everyone in life. You are not being singled out or punished. Remind yourself that disappointments won't last forever. The sun will shine again, tomorrow will come, and soon you will feel better again.

Step 4: Dissolve Doubt 

When experiencing disappointment, it can be easy to slip into doubt. You may automatically find yourself engaged in limited thinking, and feel yourself wanting to give up. Become aware of what beliefs rise to the surface as you face your disappointment.

Here are a few examples:

  • I can never have what I want.
  • It was stupid of me to even try.
  • There wasn't really much chance of success in the first place.
  • My best is never good enough.
  • Poor me, why does something like this always happen to me.
  • I'm being punished.
The benefit of facing disappointment in a new way is that you allow yourself to become consciously aware of what you believe deep down inside of you about your life, your self, and your abilities to succeed.

Once you can recognize your limiting beliefs, you can take steps to begin releasing those beliefs and building new self-empowering beliefs.

Step 5: Take Three Deep Breaths 

Often, our first response is to analyze what went wrong and then try to fix the disappointment. We begin to obsess about the disappointment, telling ourselves repeatedly, "I'm so disappointed. What can I do?"

We go over the situation repeatedly looking for a way to make it right or for someone to blame. Notice how trying to fix the situation makes you feel tight, anxious, and fearful.

There is another option. When you are feeling disappointment, take three deep breaths and go into yourself. Allow your mind and body to relax and calm down. Release some of your tension.

Now, as you consider your disappointment, say the words, "There's a positive lining to this disappointment and I'm sure something good is coming from this experience." Don't try to hide from your disappointment, but find ways to extract value from your experience. Notice that by breathing and relaxing a little, you begin to open to new possibilities along with new hope.

Step 6: Talk to You What You Say to Yourself During Your Disappointment 

This can make all the difference. I'm not suggesting sugar-coated affirmations here. There is nothing worse than affirming, "I am blissful, content and serene" when you are anything but.

Now more than ever, you need a friend to listen to your situation and to support you through this difficult time. That friend needs to be you.

Go to the nearest mirror and talk to yourself. Tell your story, state out loud how you feel, and then encourage yourself. Tell yourself, "I can make it through this."

Your words can help connect you to your spirit, your confidence, and your source of new possibilities. In case you are out of practice with your self-encouragement, here are some empowering statements that can lift your spirits:

  • I know that I'll feel better soon.
  • I've gotten through disappointment before. I know I'll get through this.
  • I'm going to be open to the silver lining hidden within this disappointment.
  • Good will come out of this situation. I choose to be patient as it unfolds.
  • I don't know exactly what to do right now, but I know that I will make the right choices.
  • I have choice over my feelings and right now, I choose to breathe more deeply into my peace, not my fear.
Remember, it takes courage to leave the rut of disappointment. Don't quit yet. Use the steps above to discover the tremendous capacity within you to rise above and beyond your disappointment and reach success.

annettecolby.com



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