Your Personal Toolkit for Handling Disappointment

On our journey, we will experience feelings of disappointment and dashed hopes. This can range from deep disappointments in our relationships, career, dreams, visions, and goals. Let’s go deeper and talk about being disappointed in ourselves – from decisions we’ve made and so forth. External disappointment is one thing, but internal ones can come with a different set of negative feelings.

Often, it can feel like the end of the world for us. For those with high expectations for themselves and high achievers, self-disappointment can be crushing and paralyzing. I know this all too well.

From my personal experience, I understand how unrealistic expectations for ourselves (and perfectionism) can lead to unnecessary stress. This post will help you know what disappointment is and how to get out of your own head. It will also discuss the best way to silence the inner critic, focusing on positive solutions, and when to seek professional help.

If you’ve ever felt like a disappointment – YouTube

What is disappointment?  

Disappointed is defined as, “sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.” When we set goals for ourselves and are met with unmet expectations, it can be one of the hardest things to navigate. It can produce negative emotions that can hinder our personal growth and physical health. Have you ever told yourself, “I can believe I did that” or “what was I thinking?” Been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt!

Attitude of Curiosity

A large part of navigating disappointment is looking within and developing a kind view of who you are. What can debilitate us is the negative self-talk that comes from disappointing experiences and situations that we may not be proud of. Getting curious helps us to reflect and own what is true. To help get curious, ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is this a truly disappointing experience that I feel or am I allowing someone’s expectations to hold me hostage?

  2. Are my own expectations hindering me? Are they realistic or unrealistic?

  3. How can I turn this disappointment into a learning experience for myself?

  4. What do I need to own and what do I need to release?

The power of curiosity is that it helps us to identify our deepest thoughts and true feelings. You can acknowledge that you may need to make better decisions without shaming yourself.

Compassion

Generally speaking, it’s easier to have compassion outside of ourselves. From seeing the person who made poor choices, get back up. We love a good redemptive story as long as it doesn’t involve ourselves.

Self-compassion is not only an important principle for our lives but there are health benefits too. According to Harvard Health, self-compassion helps with decreasing levels of anxiety. It also helps to combat depression when we speak kindly to ourselves and incorporate positive self-talk.

Write it Out

Who do you want to be? Writing out who we desire to be is such a great practice. This shouldn’t be used to shame ourselves, but as a tool to inspire us. To remind us. To challenge us. Being able to envision who we want to be can serve as a foundation of all the possibilities. The next time you are feeling disappointed in your current season, look at what you wrote as a reminder.

Accountability

I am a firm believer that no man is an island and we are better together. There is power when we invite a close friend into what we are feeling. It’s also a great way to get another person’s perspective. There have been times when the disappointment was so heavy from a negative situation, that I felt stuck. Sharing it with a friend who had been in similar situations, helped me feel lesson alone. It’s also great to have friends who can hold us accountable. A friend who can love us AND give us hard truths is invaluable. I’m an avid believer that our “best self” is found in community and who we do life with.

Identity

It’s important to remind yourself that a bad moment doesn’t mean a bad life. Yes, getting off track can bring on feelings of sadness, but that doesn’t have to be your identity. You can feel the disappointment AND hold your head high. I firmly believe that our identity lies in Christ. It’s solid. It doesn’t change. NO matter the pit you have found yourself in, God’s love will meet you there. Remember, you are NOT what you did.

Move Your Body

I could write a book about the power of exercise and movement. Blowing off steam is a thing. It’s been stated that those who add a long run into their exercise regimen build mental stamina. Maybe a long run isn’t your thing, but there are a number of things you can do to incorporate movement into your life. From walking outside to signing up for a gym membership or getting a workout at home.

Mindfulness, Positive Thinking & Deep Breaths

I will be the first one to admit I thought affirmations and breathing exercises were a bit woo-woo. 10 years ago, I took a positive psychology class during my graduate school program that absolutely changed my perspective. I was battling one of the most difficult times of my life and my stress was through the roof. This class introduced me to the power of mindfulness and how it can aid in shaping our thought process for the better.

Mindfulness helps to decrease anxiety and helps with navigating stressful events and triggers after a major disappointment. It helps us to be in the present moment. It reminds us to control what we can control and leave the rest to God. A part of that includes positive thinking and breathing exercises. I have an Apple Watch and I used to look past the breathing notifications that I would see pop up. One day I eventually did one of the exercises and it calmed my spirit.

Breathing exercises help to turn off our bodies response to stress. According to WEBMD’s Dr. Brennan breathwork helps with:

  • Balanced blood pressure

  • More time in deep sleep

  • Reduction of PTSD and feelings of trauma

  • Better immune system

  • Release of stress hormones from your body

When you are in the midst of a deep disappointment, it’s easy to give in to those negative feelings. Positive affirmations can actually change your brain, cells, and even genes. It can also help to silence the inner critic when we focus on what is true. How incredible is that? What we tell ourselves matters ESPECIALLY in the midst of disappointment. Your desire to enhance positive emotions is more than a “trendy” Instagram reel. But it can change us from the inside out. Research proves this.

When To Seek Help

Counseling is life-changing and you can seek out mental health professionals anytime during your journey. It doesn’t have to be ONLY when you are struggling. When I was experiencing pain from a disappointing heartbreak, I sought out a counselor who helped me to process my emotions in a healthy way. Sometimes our thoughts can cloud our judgment and it’s good to gain an outside perspective to help us navigate and handle disappointment. My counselor helped me to be honest about my raw emotions AND guide me to think differently. A judgment-free zone can do wonders for our mental and I highly encourage you to seek out a counselor to help you navigate.

Disappointment hurts will come and go as we navigate through life. It is a natural human emotion. The great thing is that we don’t have to allow disappointments to keep us stuck and paralyzed. Consider this write-up as your personal toolkit to take as needed.

xoxo, Des

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