What is disappointment?
Disappointment is feeling unhappy because something was not as good as you expected. When we feel unhappy because our expectations are unfulfilled, we experience a feeling of sadness or disappointment.
We all recognise the feeling of being let down and the anger we might feel when something we thought we deserved didn't happen, or the grief we experience when we miss out on an opportunity. That is the subjective experience of disappointment.
What are the causes of disappointment?
• Arrival fallacy - when we overextend ourselves for our goals, for the quiet promise that when we “arrive”, our destination will make it worthwhile
• Expectations we have around external factors - when an unrealistic expectation does not match the actual situation
• Our experiences in childhood - your mind replays an earlier experience of disappointment when you face a similar situation to what you faced in your childhood
Is feeling disappointed good for you?
Yes and no. Not in the moment - but the actions you take after you experience major disappointment can completely transform the eventual outcome and help you make better decisions.
If you persist with your actions through the disappointment, you can reach a breakthrough eventually. Just give it enough time and you will see that disappointment may be the most important thing in reaching your goals.
What does feeling disappointed tell you?
• It means you are passionate about something.
• It is an opportunity for growth - with the right mindset, you can grow through disappointments as long as you commit to getting back up and trying again. From it, you can start to align your expectations with reality and tailor your decisions to avoid disappointment again.
• It can make you stronger - disappointment can be the starting point to becoming more resilient to overcome adversity.
Ways to deal with disappointment
Let it out - confide in trusted friends or family, or even a therapist
Get perspective from others - this way, you can see things for what they really are
Know your own heart - balance external validation with your own inner wisdom
Practise self-acceptance - accepting the present moment allows you to acknowledge what is real
Don't brood over it - once you have given yourself time to come to terms with it, it's time to begin again
Know when to look for help
Sometimes, you need a helping hand in getting over disappointment. When this happens, you need to seek professional help.
Some signs that you need help include:
• You have difficulty regulating your emotions
• You are unable to focus on anything other than your disappointment
• You are unproductive and unmotivated
• Your relationships are suffering
• You no longer find joy in the activities you love
• Your sleep/ eating patterns are disrupted
Moving on from disappointment
Disappointment is an inevitable part of life. It might uplift you to know that disappointments mean you are living life. And you may be exactly where you need to be, learning precisely what you need to grow.