Dealing with disappointment

(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)
(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)

When I was a kid there was nothing I dreaded more than hearing my parents say, “We’re not mad. We’re just disappointed in you.” Even as a kid, I knew there was a difference between my parents being angry versus being disappointed. Now that I’m older I finally understand why I always wished they’d just been angry.

To put it simply, disappointment stems from our expectations not being met. This can make us feel defeated and may lead to a ‘funk’ of sorts.

During our college years we are constantly setting up expectations for ourselves and our lives. We set academic, personal and relationship expectations for ourselves.

Expectations aren’t a bad thing to have, but they can begin to become detrimental when we begin to set up expectations for things out of our control. It makes sense to be disappointed in yourself if you mess up. The disappointment will hopefully prevent you from making the same mistake again.

So, while it isn’t realistic to do away with expectations and disappointment, we can find more effective ways to deal with disappointment. Here are a few methods to help prevent and deal with disappointment.

Adjust expectations – Let’s start out with the daunting task of adjusting our expectations. When we set up expectations for ourselves they must first be realistic.

You know yourself, and what you can do, better than anyone. It is important that we don’t take on more than we can handle in a week. This is a sure fire way to end a week feeling disappointed and possibly, depending on what you didn’t get finished, in trouble with people.

We should also take a hard look at the expectations we have for other people. It is okay to expect certain things from people, but it’s not okay to forget that we are all human. If you constantly find yourself upset with others, it might be time to take a look and see if you’re expecting too much from them in the same way you might expect too much from yourself.

Feel the emotions – If you got passed up for a promotion at work that you were expecting to get then it is only natural to be upset. You may even be so upset that you want to cry and scream, especially if something important was riding on this promotion.

There is no need to hide our feelings of disappointment. It doesn’t make you look weak, it only shows people that you cared about the situation.

There are many ways to let our emotions out. You can cry, scream or even compose an emotional ballad that relates to your feelings. Feel free to get creative and don’t hold back.

Talk about it – It can be hard to talk about disappointments. It feels scary, once you say it out loud the reality of the situation sets in.

It is easier to tell people that you haven’t found out about the job or that your test results haven’t been posted. Those excuses won’t last forever and they shouldn’t have to. Be open with your loved ones about what happened and use them for support.

So while disappointment is unavoidable, the idea that we don’t have to feel it as often isn’t that far-fetched.