The Art of Handling Disappointment

How do you handle disappointment?

Disappointment in life happens to be one of those things we like to avoid at all costs.

The emotional feeling of disappointment is a feeling we’d be very happy to never have to experience again.

Sometimes we can get so excited and worked up over something that we really want to happen only to have it blow up in our face and fail miserably to work out the way we hoped.

I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s not a pleasant experience and it can leave you feeling powerless and helpless over the results in your life.

But the fact is disappointment is an unavoidable life experience.

Even if you’re the calmest, most patient person in the world, you’ll inevitably have to deal with disappointment from time to time in your life.
So how can we learn to deal with it in a way that helps us to feel more empowered, instead of feeling hopeless and distraught?

Well I think we need to take a step back and look at it from the outside to get a better perspective.

Something seemingly positive had the potential to happen that didn’t happen, and because it didn’t happen we felt disappointed and helpless about it not happening.

So when we look at it from the outside, what is disappointment?

It’s our own emotional reaction to an event or circumstance that didn’t happen the way we expected.

So what does this mean?

Well it means that disappointment is an internal, self created experience and not an external thing affecting us from the outside, even though it seems that way.

We create it within ourselves by how we are choosing to think about the situation.

Our thoughts of disappointment and hopelessness about the situation create the feeling of disappointment.

The reason we have such a strong aversion to disappointment is because as children we experienced it very strongly many times over.

Every time we didn’t get what we wanted we felt helpless, confused and powerless, and that’s why those same feelings seem to happen automatically whenever we don’t get what we think we really want and that creates the experience of disappointment.

So it’s the revisited memory of those past feelings of helplessness, confusion and powerlessness from when we were children that creates our disappointment.

So then really it’s a child’s reaction, not an adult’s.

We feel disappointment because we believe that we can’t do without whatever it was we were hoping to happen.

But we were already doing just fine without it, it was only until we started believing that we needed it to happen the problem was created.

It was our attachment to the outcome that caused the problem, not the outcome itself.

If we hadn’t have been attached to the outcome, we wouldn’t have felt so disappointed when it didn’t happen the way we wanted.

So what’s the answer to all this??

How do we crack the disappointment code? Simple, by creating objective indifference to things working out the way we want.

Disappointment only comes from being too attached to getting what we want, so in order to overcome it we need to be indifferent towards getting what we want.
Sometimes we use getting what we want as a tool of escapism, thinking that if we get it our life will change for the better.

But what we’re really doing is resisting things the way they are, and that can only ever bring us more of things the way they are.

So we need to accept things the way they are, be grateful for all the good in our lives (you can’t be grateful and disappointed at the same time), be indifferent about getting what what we want while at the same time being grateful for the possibility of getting it.

And if we don’t get it, we accept it and move on in the faith that something bigger and better will eventually come along.

Take a look back on your life to all the apparent failures and adversities you’ve ever had and then look at all the good things that eventually happened to you because of them.

If you look hard enough you will find that something bigger and better always happens eventually because of apparent failure and disappointment.

So maybe the experience of disappointment is just the universe showing us a better way.

And if we developed that as a belief, we would never be disappointed again.

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A little note on Adversity

I’ve been on an incredible journey of self discovery for the past few years.

Even though it’s been a relatively short time, deep down I’ve always known myself as spiritual even though I wasn’t aware of it intellectually.

When I was a teenager I was very sensitive and introvert, I was very depressed much of the time and sometimes I used to stare up at the stars at night and think to myself “there has to be more to life than this, there has to be”.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was referring to mediocrity and my mind made subjective reality that I had come to accept as truth.

It’s incredible to look back on your life to a time when you were really down and see it in hindsight.

When we’re experiencing it, we really believe that the way we see things is the way they are, but when we look back often times we discover that it wasn’t at all.

Anytime I think back to a perceived bad time, I often catch myself saying “If I knew then what I know now…..”

But the truth is I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for those seemingly difficult times.

Adversity always provides insight eventually.

Those bad times forced me to look inside myself, and it was in doing so that I began to find answers.

The introspective process is an incredible thing as long as you know how to use it to your advantage.

Instead of asking yourself “Why are things this way?”, ask yourself “What do I need to do to change them?”.

Instead of looking for a meaning in the problem, look for a solution outside it.

Einstein said “You can’t solve a problem at the level of consciousness it occurred”.

So asking the second question gives you more choice in the situation and forces you to look for a way out of it, instead of a meaning or justification for it.

Nothing has any meaning except for the meaning you give it, so you may as well give meanings that empower you.

Objectively, reality is the same anyway because the event is still the event, only your perception of it is now different, which changes your experience of it and ultimately how you feel about it.

If you train yourself to give the most beneficial meaning to every event, it will make life so much more rewarding for you.

You will then realise that you really are the only person who controls how you interpret things, and that is a realisation that will change your life for the better.