Disappointment is inevitable: here’s how to deal with it
Positive Self Help

Disappointment is inevitable: here’s how to deal with it


Someone once claimed that “expectation is the root of all heartache.” The phrase acknowledges that when we suffer disappointment, our aspirations and expectations are misaligned with reality. We all experience this feeling from time to time. Some of these disappointments may have little impact, while others will alter the path of our lives forever.

Given the complexities of desire, no experience is completely devoid of disappointment. This is why disappointment is such a complex and confused emotion. Many of the goals we seek are unconscious, sublimated, and even conflicting.

Paradoxically, we may get disillusioned when we achieve our goals. For example, in his 1916 article “Some Character-Types Met within Psycho-Analytic Work,” Sigmund Freud investigated the paradox of persons who had been “wrecked by success.” Unconsciously, these people thought that their success was undeserved, therefore obtaining it didn’t seem satisfactory to them. In other circumstances, even when we do obtain what we desire — and think we deserve it — we may realize that what we sought so hard doesn’t provide the expected ecstasy and contentment.

Disappointment is inevitable

Disappointment is an unavoidable aspect of working life. Whether it’s a lost promotion, a failed project, or unmet expectations, being disappointed in life is both difficult and upsetting. However, how we manage such losses determines our overall growth and success. What if, instead of becoming locked in a loop of dissatisfaction in which our labour feels meaningless (since it isn’t getting us anywhere), we modify how we respond to disappointment? When the sensation of disappointment strikes (and it will), we may learn to respond more constructively.

Read More: Are we prepared enough to cope with failures?

Developmental influences

Our developmental history, including our relationship with our parents and other early, formative events, influences how we deal with disappointment. Some individuals try to escape disappointment by becoming underachievers. To avoid disappointment, they automatically lower the bar and avoid taking chances. Without recognizing it, they have determined that the best strategy is to avoid having high expectations for anything. Such conduct develops into a type of self-preservation. However, it results in a mediocre and unfulfilled life. Ironically, these people frequently fail to meet expectations for themselves and others.

Others, on a different path, strive to escape disappointment by becoming overachievers. Although they persuade themselves that their demands of perfection are reasonable and feasible, these assumptions prove to be incorrect. The bar has been set far too high for them to ever fulfil their goals. They forget that perfectionism seldom results in contentment; rather, it frequently leads to disappointment.

Of course, some people have a more balanced developmental background. These folks were typically raised by parents who did not strive for perfection and did not expect their children to do the same. By being “good enough” parents, they provide a stable foundation for their children. These youngsters feel safe in their interactions, supported rather than dominated, and are allowed to play, explore, and learn, developing the inner fortitude to deal constructively with the inevitable setbacks that will occur on their path through life.

While knowing which way we lean is useful, our developmental history does not determine our fate. Whatever our developmental background, whether we have a stable foundation or not, disappointment may teach us important lessons about ourselves, other people, and what makes us happy.

Read More: 4 tips to Set High-Achieving Goals

Overcoming Disappointments

Disappointments, however unpleasant, may always teach us something. To deal productively with disappointment, we must first comprehend what happened. Some instances of disappointment are foreseeable and avoidable. Some, however, are inescapable and beyond our control. To manage disappointment, we must distinguish between events that are under our control and those that are beyond it. Recognizing the distinction will allow us to cope with our disappointments more effectively.

We also need to ensure that our expectations are acceptable. Are our expectations excessively high, and hence reaching too high? Or are our ambitions too low? If you are one of those people who have unrealistic expectations, working constructively through setbacks might help you alter your expectations. You may learn to let go of perfectionistic standards and embrace “good enough.” Those who have set the bar too low should cease holding onto erroneous assumptions about life, such as “there is no more hope” or “nothing ever works for me.” It is impossible to avoid disappointment in life; striving to do so is not a very helpful method of coping with it.

When disappointment occurs frequently, it may be prudent to reconsider our beliefs and habits. We may see whether we are courting disappointment. Could we have communicated more clearly about what we expected from others? Do we truly understand what we demand from ourselves? Are we hearing what people are saying to us? Could we have done things differently to achieve a different result? Also, given what we know about ourselves, how can we change our expectations to be more successful the next time? And what resources and assistance are available to help us successfully deal with our disappointment?

Read More: Breaking the Cycle of Self-Doubt and Negative Thinking

To deal with disappointment constructively, avoid allowing it to turn into apathy and melancholy. Sustained negative rumination is not a recipe for progress. When we become concerned with negative news, we lose sight of the good in our lives and the world around us. We merely absorb our grief and fury. Holding on to these sentiments might cause us to unknowingly incorporate them into our identity.

When we catch ourselves thinking negatively, we should divert our energies and concentrate on constructive answers. Although we may be hesitant to let go of an unpleasant experience, continuing to hold on will be more destructive in the long term. When we excessively focus on events that do not meet our expectations, we cause excessive tension.

We don’t intend disappointment to harm us. When accepted in stride, it may help us strengthen and improve. Despite the severe emotional impact, we may view disappointment as a path to increased knowledge and wisdom. However, for these journeys of self-reflection and reevaluation to be significant, we must go deeper. Only by working through unpleasant associations can we be free of them.

Read More: 15 Interesting Ways to Be Productive In Life

Regardless, no matter how frustrating our experiences are, we must resist the temptation to become bitter. We would do well to remember that, while disappointment is unavoidable, discouragement is always an option.

References +

How to deal with disappointment. (2024, May 15). ReachOut Australia. https://au.reachout.com/challenges-and-coping/coping/how-to-deal-with-disappointment

How to Deal With Disappointment: 5 Ways to Get Over it. (n.d.). https://www.betterup.com/blog/disappointment

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