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6 Better Ways to Handle Life's Disappointments

You're here again. Disappointed, depressed, and angry at how life keeps unfolding.

And maybe you know you should be grateful. And maybe you also know that one bad day doesn't mean you're dealing with the worst thing to ever happen.

But you can't help how you feel, and the disappointment makes it hard to keep going. If this sounds like you, here are some ways to change how you cope.

What Makes Someone Prone to Feeling Disappointed?

Everyone feels disappointed sometimes, but some people tend to experience this feeling more than others. You may be more vulnerable to it if you:

Struggle with perfectionism: People who identify as perfectionistic often expect everything to go according to plan. When their reality doesn't meet their high expectations, they feel overwhelmed and may believe their hard work was "for nothing."

Lack strong boundaries: If you regularly people-please, take care of other needs before your own, or let people take advantage of you, you may be dealing with disappointment more than someone with healthier limits.

Have depression: Depression often coincides with negative feelings like sadness, anger, and loneliness. These feelings are real, but the depression often intensifies them. As a result, you may feel more disappointed about the state of life- and about yourself- when you're in a depressed episode.

Often compare yourself to others: If you're always looking at what your friends do or have, you may feel more upset with yourself. This is because constant comparison tends to make us feel more insecure. You might develop this unrealistic expectation that you should act like other people or have what they have.

Experience trauma: Trauma has a way of shattering hopes and making the world feel unsafe and dangerous. Subsequently, you may feel disappointed by the people who hurt you.

Managing Disappointment: Dealing With Life When You Feel Upset

The first goal in managing disappointment is recognizing the inevitability of adversity. Life will always have some hard moments. You can overcome these obstacles, but you shouldn't expect them to disappear entirely.

Here are some other ways to deal with disappointment productively:

Express How You Feel

Suppressing or denying negative feelings only tends to exacerbate emotional distress. As much as you might want to pretend you're okay, you can't trick your mind and body.

In many ways, self-reflection is an act of self-love. Acknowledge when you feel disappointed, even if it's just to yourself or in your journal. Talk about why you might feel this way and recognize if any specific triggers aggravated the negative emotions.

Focus on Action Over Inaction

Venting can feel good- to an extent.

But if you stay stuck in your negative emotions, you'll likely continue feeling depressed, overwhelmed, or apathetic. Feeling like a victim of your own circumstances only perpetuates disappointment.

Instead, think about what you can do next. How can you constructively deal with your feelings? What's your next move? How can you rise up despite what might be bringing you down?

As you focus more on action, you inevitably start to accept the situation- and you quickly turn towards building a better future rather than ruminating over what happened.

Recognize the Shared Human Experience

In her pivotal research, Dr. Kristin Neff talks about three components of self-compassion. She indicates that internal kindness and love come from a place of acknowledging common humanity.

What does this mean? You aren't the only person suffering from negative life events. Everyone experiences complex emotions and has experiences with personal failings.

To feel disappointment is to be human, and that, in a sense, is a wonderful thing because it means you aren't alone with your feelings.

Check Your Expectations

Most of us move through life with relatively high expectations about what will happen. Then we feel unhappy when things don't go our way.

There's nothing wrong with having standards, and you should want good things in your life. But if you aren't realistic, you're setting yourself up for disappointment, and you may not know how to cope when you inevitably struggle.

Some tips for setting realistic expectations include:

  • aiming to let go of how others "should" respond

  • practicing positive and uplifting self-talk

  • focusing on what is working well or feeling good

  • practicing gratitude regularly

  • reminding yourself what is and isn't in your control

Commit to More Mindfulness

The more you can tune into your present emotions, the less of a hold they will have over your well-being.

Being mindful doesn't mean you won't experience anger, sadness, or disappointment. But staying in the present moment helps you see the bigger picture in life. You may even be able to tap into more gratitude and find the silver lining in a rough situation. At the very least, you'll feel a greater sense of clarity.

The next time you feel overwhelmed or experience disappointment, consider spending ten minutes meditating.

Ride the Wave of Disappointment

Remind yourself that even the most intense emotions pass.

Everything ebbs and flows and eventually fades with time. But if you act out on every negative emotion, you risk making life more stressful, and you'll probably experience even more frustration.

The next time you feel disappointed, try to imagine that you're on a big wave. Be with the wave, even if it scares you. Try to ride it out- all waves break and crash, no matter how large they are.

But if you don't get on top of it, you risk drowning!

How Treatment Can Help You Handle Disappointment Better

Sometimes experiencing disappointment feels overwhelming, particularly if you're recovering from severe mental illness or coping with trauma. Your personal growth may feel stunted by your own intense emotions.

If you struggle to deal with disappointment, you're not alone. It can be helpful to seek professional support to cope with your situation in a healthy way. Perspective is everything- while you may not be able to guarantee a different outcome in life, learning how to cope with your feelings and take care of yourself.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you!

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