Dealing with disappointment


Unless you’re being malicious, you never set out to disappoint people. Yet, it happens. It’s usually due to mismanaged expectations and poor communication. How do you handle it? You need to make some time and reflect on what happened. You need to make some time to resolve to improve on the areas you can influence. The more important thing you can do is to let yourself feel the disappointment.

None of us like to disappoint. It shows we’re not quite as capable as we want others (and ourselves) to believe. It’s a vulnerability, a weakness. We try to avoid negative feelings. We try to blame others, find a way to avoid the pain, and forget about the whole thing. Feel them we must, though, if we want to make lasting change. I liken it to swimming. As an adult, we may avoid swimming in a pool or lake because it’s cold. In our minds, we build up the water to be the Arctic ocean, full of ice. We tiptoe into it, trying to “condition” ourselves.

The best way to deal with this is to dive in head first. Not mindlessly, of course. We should make sure our valuables are safe and that we have extra clothing and towels. Once we’ve prepared, we should jump right in and take on the water headfirst. In most cases, the water is only cool, and after the initial shock, we acclimate quickly.

The same goes for negative feelings. We create a quiet place, away from others. We have a notebook ready, we have tissues ready, and we have a pillow ready. Then, we dive right into those feelings. Like the pool, once the initial discomfort has passed over, we’re ready for the important work: what’s next?

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