In this article we are going to discuss disappointment. This of course is a subject that all of us should be able to relate to, in some way or another.
What is Disappointment?
Oxford dictionary has disappointment defined as, “sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”
Let’s face it, for all but probably a small percentage of the human population, the feeling of disappointment sucks. I think it would be difficult to learn to enjoy the feeling of the definition above.
The thing is, that the only way for me to experience success with is to take healthy risks. Taking risks always means the possibility of the risk not working out, and so possible disappointment.
When I think about the amount of disappointment I feel after a risk not working out, it is easy to see the relationship between disappointment and expectation.
Disappointment and Excitement for Outcomes.
The relationship between disappointment and expectation is like an equation to me. The amount of disappointment felt depends on the amount of expectation placed on a certain outcome. So, if I am really excited for a certain outcome, you better believe there will be a decent amount of disappointment if it doesn’t work out.
Of course, the inverse of this equation is also true. If I am not placing a lot of expectation on an outcome, I am likely to not be all that disappointed by it not coming together.
So here we have the solution to disappointment. All we have to do is not get too excited for having things go our way and we will never be too disappointed. Wait…. That sounds like a horrible way to go through life!
Disappointment and the Importance of Taking Risks.
When I first entered recovery, I was certainly not an excited guy, I was broken, and a nervous wreck. Many years of bottling up my potential had me needing to be on depression and anxiety medications. Before I got clean lived in a small world, killing myself with chemicals in an attempt to avoid the pain of not knowing how to live my life. Not taking healthy risks had a horrendous impact on my mental, physical and emotional health.
The fact of the matter is that for me, if I am taking healthy risks I am going to feel stress. Also, if I am not taking sufficient healthy risks, I am going to build up stress anyway. As the stress builds in the background of my awareness consequences may come later as my brain seeks quick fixes for stress relief. And I probably won’t like the results of these quick fixes, that’s the reason I used so heavily.
So not taking risks as a way to avoid stress, ultimately ends up biting me in the butt. We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Taking a risk and using all this energy on my terms sounds like the best way to go. Life is much better when I am seeking new ways of growing, taking risks, and putting myself out there to be disappointed from time to time.
Since disappointment is unavoidable for the kind of life I desire. I need ways to help navigate disappointment to make sure it does not eat me alive or deter me from taking sufficient healthy risks.
Methods for Successfully Managing Disappointment:
1. Feel the Pain.
Where there is disappointment, there is pain. The pain might tell me I am a failure, stupid for taking the risk, or that someone else had it out for me. It is immensely important to get in touch with these painful emotions so they don’t keep me from taking risks in the future.
2. Social Support.
Having people I trust is very important for dealing with disappointment. They can help me see any kind of silver linings that I may not be able to see. These trusted people may also be able to affirm any positive traits in myself that I may be overlooking. Without solid social support we are truly missing out.
I work on focusing on what I have to be grateful for. This could be done by either writing a gratitude list or just taking some time out to run through a list in my head. If the disappoint stings really bad, I don’t count on one gratitude session doing the trick. By taking a risk, I obviously wanted something more in my life. So, taking some time to remind myself that there are plenty of things to appreciate about my current life, can be highly therapeutic.
4. Having Patience.
I need to remind myself that heavy disappointment will not be worked through overnight. If I really had my heart set on an outcome and I didn’t get it, it is going to hurt. But keeping myself informed that I will feel better about it over time, helps a lot.
5. Giving credit for taking a risk.
It can be easy to become disheartened by a “failed risk,” maybe thinking it was stupid to waste time and resources. Reminding myself that putting myself out there to take a healthy risk is a commendable thing, is very important!
6. Focus on what can be learned.
Having taken the risk (even if it didn’t work out) I still gained some extra skills from the experience. The experience can also show me what didn’t work with the risk I took. If I examine what went wrong, I can possibly formulate another plan of action for the next risky attempt!
7. Get back to the basics.
While I am dealing with disappointment, the emotions can get in the way of being present in the relationships I currently am a part of. I find that when I make the effort to pump some of that energy that had me taking the risk into giving more to my marriage, my work, my family, that the disappointment doesn’t do as much damage to my mind.
Taking healthy risks is an important part of my life. I do not see anything wrong with the strong desire to expand life and learn new things. I find that if I neglect to allow my energy to create in the world by taking healthy risks, this energy IS going to come out sideways in negative ways. This will make life much more difficult for myself and those around me!
As for all of you, I cannot say what risks you should be taking. Though I can say that if you are anything like me, you better be taking some. Life can be a beautiful thing, full of opportunity to expand, love, and learn. So on that note, GO GET SOME. It’s all going to be okay.
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*Note that the advice given in this article is not meant to replace the role of Mental Health Professionals.
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