Mitigating Disappointment

Recently, I had an (organic) experience that perfectly clarified to me why disappointment makes you feel bad, and what you can do to mitigate that bad feeling.

Here’s what happened:

I have been desperate for lazer eye surgery for years. In recent months, though, this desperation has grown to fever pitch as I finally neared the date at which I would be close to “eligible” for said surgery. So it was with sheer joy last month that I met with a great doctor about getting the surgery done.

And then, it was with sheer horror that I heard that I could not get said lazer eye surgery, thanks to the poor eyesight genetic luck I happened upon (read: really, really, really bad eyesight).

Amazingly, though, two main things mitigated this (extreme) disappointment for me, and they each made me think about strategies for proactively mitigating disappointment.

1. I Knew the (Poor) Odds:

Although I’m all for positive thinking, there’s no reason to be wildly optimistic about something that just isn’t going to happen. Sometimes it really is better to let people down with the truth (slowly, that is).

When the doctor first delivered the news, “There is a very small chance you will be eligible for the surgery,” I was bummed. I was still holding onto hope, of course, but ultimately the logical part of my brain knew that chances were low. This logical part of my brain then helped ease me into the ultimate disappointment.

Thus, when he confirmed, “You can’t have lazer eye surgery,” seven days later, I was still bummed, but was not rolling around on the floor wailing.

2. I Experienced Something Even Worse:

In order to test this “small chance” theory, the doctor made me wear my glasses for 7 days straight.


Since I think I look like an ugly beast wearing glasses, this was a huge blow for me. I hate my glasses. I tolerate them only when I absolutely must. My husband, who is kind, tells me it’s not the frames, it’s the lenses. Which is true. The problem is that I have such a bad prescription that they just can’t make my lenses look anything less than coke bottle sized.

So, forcing me to wear glasses for 7 days straight was something akin to torture. I canceled my entire social schedule. I hibernated. The plus side, though, was startling. When I “got” to put my contacts back on, I marveled at what an incredible invention they were!

Look at me! I’m officially less ugly! I can go out to dinners and talk face-to-face with humans again! What joy!

All this to say, even though I couldn’t get lazer eye surgery, there was still some light — in that I got to put my contacts back on.

Now, getting rejected for lazer eye surgery may not be your version of major disappointment. And that’s fine. But whatever potential disappointment you are facing, these two strategies just might help you soften the blow of disappointment.

What do you think? How do you mitigate disappointment in your life?
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