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How to cope with disappointment

Feeling disappointed is inevitable. In fact, it’s just like any other painful emotion you experience. All emotions are simply guiding posts that alert you to what is happening in your external environment, while helping you make appropriate adjustments and decisions to improve your situation.

Although it may be difficult to turn a little disappointment in your favor it may help you improve your circumstances. Here is a five step process you can use to do exactly that:

Step 1: Acknowledge How You Feel About Situation

If you’re disappointed, then admit it openly and honestly. Hiding your disappointment will just prevent you from moving forward.

Ask yourself:

What really happened here?

What should have happened?

Why am I feeling disappointed about this?

Clarifying why exactly you’re feeling disappointed about the situation will help you to get a better understanding of your thoughts and expectations. In fact, your thoughts are the key. How you initially thought about this situation and how you eventually responded to this outcome has essentially triggered your feelings of disappointment. As such, it’s important to gain some clarity about your thought process. Ask yourself:

What was I thinking at the time when things didn’t pan-out as I had anticipated?

Was I blaming myself, others or circumstances?

Was I searching for excuses?

How does this keep me stuck?

If you’re caught up making excuses, complaining and not taking responsibility for the situation, then you’re just ignoring the real problem.

Step 2: Questions Your Expectations

It’s now time to take a closer look at the expectations you had before these events and circumstances took place. Ask yourself:

What were my expectations about these circumstances?

What were my expectations about myself?

What were my expectations of others involved in this?

As you answer these questions you might realize that maybe your expectations weren’t quite flexible or realistic enough. Continue asking yourself:

Overall, were my expectations about all these things realistic?

When it comes to disappointment, your expectations coming into the situation will determine how you will feel after the events have taken place.

Just maybe there is a silver lining here…

Your unrealistic expectations are going to prevent you from learning and growing from this experience. You must understand this before moving onto the next step.

Step 3: Take Time to Learn from this Experience

Take time now to learn from this experience. Ask yourself:

What can I learn from this experience?

What can I learn about myself?

What can I learn about my perspective of the situation?

What can I learn about how I set expectations?

What can I learn from all this that will help me approach things differently in the future?

These questions will help you to see through the clouds — opening your eyes to new possibilities and perspectives. Maybe things aren’t how they initially seemed?

Know your own pitfalls with regards to this situation. Know that if you have a passionate stance on something and you lose you may be hurt, angry and yes, disappointed. That's a chance you take when you invest wholeheartedly in something.

Step 4: Take Personal Inventory

You should now fully understand the situation and you should also have clarity about your expectations. It’s now time for you to take a personal inventory by asking:

What skills do I have that can help me get back in the game?

What knowledge do I have that I might be able to use here?

What tools do I have at my disposal that could be helpful?

What support can I potentially garner from others?

What are my strengths, and how can I make the best use of those?

Answering these questions will help remind you that you are in fact very resourceful. You have everything within yourself to take full advantage of this situation to help turn disappointment into something positive and empowering. However, to move through this process successfully you may need to fine-tune your problem solving skills as-well-as your creative thinking skills. The reason for this is that your disappointment is merely a problem that you must now solve, and you will need to think creatively and maybe even critically to move through these events successfully. Ask yourself:

What’s the problem that I must solve?

What are the facts and tangible things that I will need to work through?

In order to move through this emotion well, you will need to cultivate optimism, patience, gratitude, and enthusiasm. (easier said then done sometimes, I know)

Step 5: Modify Your Expectations and Objectives

The final step is to modify your expectations and objectives. Modifying your expectations will help you to see things more clearly and realistically. Modifying your objectives will come as a result of your adjusted expectations. Maybe you were initially reaching too high, too quickly. A modified objective will provide you with a realistic target you can work towards. Then once you hit that target you can raise the bar higher the next time around.

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