How to handle disappointment in 5 easy steps

How to handle disappointment in 5 easy steps

Sometimes you want something so bad, or worked for something so hard, that not achieving your goal can result into a heavy set of emotions. Unfortunately, these feelings usually go beyond the familiarity of simple sadness. Add a bit of anger and frustration to the mix, stir in a bit of fear and doubt, and top it all off with a pinch of impatience. You’re left with one of the most complex emotions I can name. Yep, disappointment. With this article I’m hoping to give you some tips on how to handle disappointment, because let’s be honest: When you’re dealing with such a wide range of emotions, you could really use a couple of good pointers to get you out of your funk!


Step 1: Acknowledge how you feel

We live in a fast-paced society where sometimes, there’s little room to allow ourselves to feel our emotions. Alas, that’s just what you need to do to get past them! So take a couple of hours out of your schedule and allow yourself to wallow in every feeling your mind throws at you. Don’t let them guide you to actions. Just acknowledge them and give yourself some time to truly know why you feel as disappointed as you do.


Step 2: Put your feelings into perspective

After embracing your emotions to the fullest, it’s time to put them into perspective. How disastrous is this disappointment you feel, really? Is there no room for another game-plan, another attempt at getting what you want? Does not reaching the goal you set yourself mean that your life will suck from now on? Is your world going to end? In some cases it might feel that way. But let’s be honest: Your life likely isn’t over.

Take a deep breath and realize that there are can be several reasons why you feel as disappointed as you do. You might have pinned yourself down on the outcome of your plans too much. Your expectancy might have been too high. People might have let you down. In any case, it’s time to get back to reality*: Things didn’t work out the way you wanted to, but there are other options.

* A little mindfulness can work wonders when you feel you can use a bit of perspective. I’m relatively new to the concept, but I feel Marisa Garau’s (Dutch) book “Haal meer uit je leven met mindfulness” really explains it in a rather well and down-to-earth way.  


Step 3: Regain your confidence

When things turn out for the worse, you can end up feeling completely lost. Instead of feeling like you’ve failed, try approaching your disappointment like a learning experience. It might take a couple of days until you do, but in the end, reflection will teach you to do things better next time.

Put some extra effort into boosting your confidence, as it probably received a blow from your recent ordeals. Instead of focusing on the negative, remember your favorable skills, traits and successful past endeavors.


Step 4: Plan your next move

Whatever you’re disappointed over, one thing is sure: Things probably didn’t go the way you planned. That’s why it’s time to let go of your old ideas, and make room for a couple of new ones. This will give you a new point of focus and a welcome sense of accomplishment.

Maybe the thing you are disappointed over was a one-shot; a unique deal that can’t be replicated. Still I advise you to follow up on step 4. Want to be an astronaut, but NASA won’t send you into space? Try to pilot a plane instead! Never allow rough seas to sail your ship away from a beach you want to land.


Step 5: Try again

Yep, simple as that. You might not want to do another attempt at the exact same thing, but it’s important to progress – however small the steps may be.


How do you handle disappointment? Feel free to share your tips in the comments!

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