Close Connections: It’s so disappointing!


By Nancy Norman

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




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