How To Deal With Disappointment

Life is like an empty canvas of possibilities.

There’s the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the colourful and the dull, and so much more. Every emotion, positive or negative, adds a stroke of colour to the story of our lives. With time, the hues and lines merge into a richness, which even the much-prized monochromatic happy life would pale in comparison.

Deep down, we all wish to be eternally and effortlessly happy, healthy and wealthy. This can’t be further from the reality of life. Life can be challenging but rewarding, messy but beautiful, flawed but perfect in its imperfections.

We get disappointed when life fails to go our way and forces us to travel down terrifying paths of the unknown. Like it or not, disappointment is an inevitable and essential part of wholehearted living. Avoiding it means turning away life’s gifts for us because they come in a form we do not like.

By learning to manage, better still, leverage on the disappointing events in our lives, we create stepping stones for a wiser and brighter future. Below is my personal concoction of how to deal with disappointment. Hope you’ll find it helpful. 🙂

What are the lessons to be learned?

A disappointing episode becomes less of a setback once we see that there is something we can gain from it. We can use it as a feedback on what not to do and how to pivot from there to success. As Thomas Edison aptly put it, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. When the end goal is worth the arduous pursuit, the key is not to lose energy being disheartened, but to channel our life-force towards the continuous refinement of our strategy till we succeed.

How did I contribute to this?

It’s easy to cast blame on life, unfavourable situations and the people involved when things go wrong. By attributing it to sheer misfortune, we escape having to dig deep into our contribution to the outcome and to make the painful but necessary changes. This path of least resistance works great if you’re aiming for a mediocre life. If you aspire to a life of personal greatness, taking responsibility for every unpleasant turn in life is the first fundamental step. This simple but difficult act is what sets the successful people apart from the average. They possess the ability to turn disadvantageous circumstances into beneficial ones, thus staying on track in building and up keeping a good life.

Is this permanent?

When sh*t hits the fan, it can feel like the ultimate catastrophe has struck and our lives have fallen into the dark ages. It’s critical at times like these to remember that as long as we’re still alive, no downfall is irrevocable. Of course, some mistakes come with lasting damages and baggage but it does not have to cripple us completely if we seek to make the best of the situation. Very often, the people with the worst past emerge to become victors with the most brilliant present and future. Strive to be like them, instead of wallowing in self-pity, guilt and despair.

What constructive actions can I take?

Shift your attention away from the dreadfulness of the situation and focus on what constructive actions you can take to remedy the problem and avoid future occurrences. Ask yourself what new skills to develop and what network to build and set out to do so. Optimistic people tend to be “luckier”, not because they truly are. The difference between glass half full and glass half-empty individuals is that often the former pick themselves up quickly and plod forward with faith in a better tomorrow while the latter remain mired in their fatalistic outlook.

What good things are there in my life?

Nothing is more gripping than pure drama. We may say we want peaceful lives but we gravitate towards juicy life developments that are often negative and destructive. When life takes an undesirable twist, strive to rise above it rather than let it consume you. Shift your perspective by recalling the other good things that exist. This will help you to stay levelheaded as you face the challenges head-on and bust through the obstacles on to the other side.

How did you handle the disappointing turns in your life? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments below.

Sylvia Huang

Social media coach, helping new and small biz owners to grow their brand and tribe online .

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