Overcoming Disappointment

Disappointment follows after unmet expectations. In some ways, feeling disappointment is good. If we allow disappointment to consume us, we will eventually build walls to avoid that feeling. What we should be doing is restructuring how we perceive our reality.

I was recently confronted with a bad case of disappointment. This past Friday was my 26th birthday and my parents were throwing my niece, my sister-in-law, and I a joint birthday party the Tuesday before my birthday because our birthdays were all close together. My husband has been working very hard and he had to work that evening. He told me that he would rather celebrate my birthday on Friday. I felt disappointed that he wouldn’t reschedule the appointments he made that evening so that he could celebrate my birthday with my family and I. I didn’t talk about my disappointment because I knew that I was being irrational but I didn’t know how to handle it. Eventually my disappointment turned into anxiety.

I talked with my therapist about my anxiety because I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. She suggested that disappointment is a feeling that I have trouble coping with and suggested that I practice mindfulness and ask myself “what’s most important right now?” before I allow myself to succumb to the feeling of disappointment. Here’s what I do now to deal with these feelings:

  1. I feel the disappointment and I try to track the other feelings that I’m feeling – In this case, I felt sad and angry.
  2. I ask myself, “what is most important right now?” – The most important thing was that I got to spend that evening with my family. It didn’t matter that my husband wasn’t able to make it.
  3. I remind myself of what is most important whenever I begin to feel that same nagging feeling of disappointment.

I was able to practice this on Friday. I tend to get disappointed before my birthday every year, so I prepped myself before Friday. I kept reminding myself not to have any expectations with how we spent Friday. What was most important to me on my birthday? That I got to spend time with my husband. It didn’t matter how long I got to see him or what we did together that day. On Friday there were times where I felt disappointment but I kept reminding myself that I had not given him any explicit instructions on what I wanted to do and I told myself that the most important thing was that I was spending time with him. I ended up having more fun than I have had in a very long time.

How do you overcome disappointment?

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