5 Steps to Help You Deal with Disappointment Masterfully
Have you ever been 100% certain that a situation would turn out a certain way and then it didn’t? It could be a test, interview or presentation you are sure you’ve aced, a prospective date you hope will call back, or a money deal you think will pan out. Then you get the call that your plan fell through, or even worse, you don’t get the call. You know that it’s not going to happen going by the long silence and stagnancy of the situation. When you had hoped that things would change for you, they remain unstirred, almost as if in mockery.
At first, you tell yourself, “May be if I just wait a little longer…” because you can’t tell whether you’re quitting or whether it really is time to let go. You try to wait it out, revisiting all the reasons why your expectations wouldn’t be unmet, but even as you’re doing so, deep down you already know you have failed and that you’re only convincing yourself otherwise. You’re in denial — and the moment you realize that you’re in denial, the denial fades and it hits you. “Oh, it didn’t pan out.” Your stomach floors. Your backbone withers. Your chest contracts and it feels like you’re in actual physical pain. Your lips tremble and a tremor takes over your hands so vigorously that you have to clench your fists just to hide it. It literally feels like your soul is trying to leave your body right at that moment, within the span of those few seconds when the realization washes over you.
Then, you steel yourself. You say, “Alright then. I’m not even going to sweat it. No, it’s cool. It’s fine. I’m just fine.” And most times, you are just fine, but you’re not reading this article because of those times. You are here because of the times you do sweat it. Disappointment. It happens to all of us.
I was recently in a situation where I became invested in an outcome that in the end, didn’t come to pass as quickly, and in the way that I’d hoped for. I didn’t even realize that I was disappointed about it because disappointment is a compound feeling. It is a fusion of sadness, frustration, anger, persistent denial, that emptiness in your chest that constantly reminds you of your unfulfilled hopes and desires, and of course, a little bit of crazy. It is a confusing feeling, most often only best expressed as ‘bad’.
So once you realize that you’re deep in the throes of disappointment, how do you get over it?
1. Remember who you are
Disappointment is one of those feelings that are so intense that they actually give you mental tunnel vision. All you see is the failure, all you feel is the loss of the outcome you hoped for. The ego takes a hard hit when failure becomes a reality, because it is concerned with the approval of others. You can get caught up trying to analyze what went wrong, and what you can do to salvage it, but what you need to remember is that you are not your ego. You are a Soul with the power to choose its own human experience. When your reference point is the Soul, as opposed to the Ego, you are able to perceive the thoughts racing through your mind, the emotions churning in your heart, and the senses lighting up your body. Your first job is to allow yourself to perceive these three things.
2. Do sweat it
“Catching” feelings has long been, and continues to be frowned upon by society. Nobody wants to feel vulnerable and nobody wants to see vulnerability in another. It makes us uncomfortable, but there’s nothing more toxic than unprocessed feelings being bottled up. Do sweat it. Allow yourself to feel the emotion. Sit with it for a moment. Let your chest ache. Let the tears flow. Let your shoulders sag. Let your back bend and your head hang low. Feel the blow in your stomach. Admit that it got to you. Admit that you are strong but yes, it got to you. As you allow those feelings to pass through you, they are purged from your system.
Do it long enough to let them pass, but not too long that you start to wallow. Too long and you’ll let the self-pity in, and that’s not what we’re going for. Be mindful of the dialogue going on in your mind. Don’t try to rush it either. You will only feed it more of your energy and power to keep frustrating you, and the last thing you need to worry about at that time, is that you’re not getting over it fast enough. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time and grace.
3. Get some Perspective
So it didn’t go the way you wanted it to. What of it? Chances are, as you allow yourself to perceive your thoughts, emotions and senses, you’ll get some perspective. For instance, you’re still breathing and your heart is still pumping. It hasn’t killed you, so it can only make you stronger. There. You already have a win. You will realize that some of the thoughts going on in your mind are the twelve-year-old you speaking. Thoughts like, “Why didn’t they like me?” Adult you knows that not everyone is going to like you and that in no way diminishes how awesome you are. When you’re seated there feeling sorry and pitiful (or what we typically call wooiye) for yourself, you’ll actually start to feel a bit ridiculous. You’ll recognize that you’re better than that — stronger, fortitudinous, resilient. Take a few deep breaths and allow your true nature to return to you.
4. Exercise your Free Will
As Soul, your primary purpose is to direct your life through Free Will. This means that you can direct your thoughts, feelings and senses. Hitting the gym, going for a quick jog or swim, massages, hot baths and aromatherapy are just some of the activities you can do to uplift your thoughts, feelings and senses. In a sense, working through disappointment is a form of grieving an ambiguous loss. Take as long as you need to make peace with the fact that what you planned, hoped for or desired isn’t going to be.
5. Reassess and Reorganize
Now that you are ready to bounce back, it’s time to reassess your goals and reorganize your plan to achieve them. Nothing in life is a waste. Some situations are clouds without silver linings and when you come into those, the least you can do for yourself is at the very least, try to extract a lesson from them. Manure is a cow’s dung. It’s literally crap and it stinks but it does wonders for plants. Take the situation and let it be your manure. Grow from it. Learn how to read people, how life works, or even better, learn something new about yourself. Learn how to listen to your instincts and identify and avoid situations that don’t serve you. Learn how to manage your expectations and not get ahead of yourself. Allow the manure to teach you. Know better, do better.
Allow the manure to grow you.