Close Connections: It’s so disappointing!
Last month, I wrote about how our expectations can lead to disappointments if not questioned. This column is about some ways to deal with disappointments after they happen.
One major psychological school of thought believes that how we deal with disappointments is the mark of our maturity. Well, that makes me about 2 sometimes. At other times, I come closer to my real age.
What happens when we experience something really disappointing? We react, and then we have to deal with it. We make a face, most likely sour. We catch our breath, or exclaim, “Oh no!” Some of us immediately look for someone to blame, or try to make someone else feel bad to keep us company. We might lash out at whoever delivered the bad news. Or cry if it’s sad news. Really, we want to throw a tantrum like the little kids we are. Who can blame us?
Here are a few “adult” thoughts on dealing with disappointments:
- Pretend to others, not to yourself. You may act like the
disappointment isn’t bothering you, but don’t kid yourself.
Acknowledging the hurt without being critical of yourself
will help you move on. When you care about yourself, it’s
easier to put the disappointment in perspective.
- Only you can know what it means. Be careful not to adopt
what others think about your disappointment. If some
would make light of what feels crushing to you, you have
your reasons, your history.
- You’re not alone. Coming to truly believe that
disappointments are a part of life for every human on
earth won’t change the initial hurt. But it can help
relieve the stinging isolation of, “Why me?”
- Take your time. Take the time and space you need to
absorb the disappointment. Walk, breathe, meditate, sit
and rock. There’s no “right” time frame for dealing with
disappointments. Some will be quicker to handle, some
- Get through not over. To “get over” a disappointment
might imply we should forget about what happened.
I like to think we can work our way through our feelings
to deal with what’s happened.
- After the feelings comes the thinking. Muster your
courage and ask yourself lots of questions. What does
this disappointment do to your life right now? What will it
mean in the long run? How have others dealt with
disappointments that sound similar (there’re plenty of
examples in print and internet)? Can you share what’s
happened with a person you trust? Is this a one-off or are
you often disappointed?
- Come to accept that you’ve been disappointed and why.
When we survive hard stuff and keep going, we can
become more resilient. That doesn’t mean we have to
feel great about it or be thankful for it or make it a “good
thing.” We can still feel the hurt and start looking for
other ways to make our lives better.
Disappointments often come with dreams. So I say, keep dreaming and know that hurts happen. Keep working through them and create new dreams.
Nancy Norman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, musician with The Storys duo and former “Intimacy” columnist for “The Wichita Eagle.” Email her at email@example.com.