Managing Disappointment

We all have dreams and goals.  We work hard to try to see those dreams come to life and try to believe in something we can’t see.  We plan, research, and hope, but sometimes dreams get interrupted.  That’s when we have to regroup and redefine our goals and dreams.  In working with people, I have learned that disappointment can cause severe depression, anxiety, loss of focus and problems in relationships.  When disappointment happens, it’s important to put things in perspective and make decisions about whether to give up the dream, or just redefine it.

In working with patients over the years, I have worked with people who had significant disappointment.  From not getting the job they wanted, to not getting the house they wanted, to not having the relationship that they wanted, to issues in childhood, there are so many reasons to be disappointed.  Some people make choices to manage disappointment by thinking of themselves as not good enough.  They begin to believe that they don’t deserve to be happy, fall into depression, and struggle to move on in life.  Other parts of their lives become a struggle, and they start to lose confidence in their future.  Self-esteem can suffer and when things get overwhelming, they have trouble remembering what to do to feel better.

Other people struggling with disappointment get angry, at the world.  They take out their anger on people around them and run the risk of police involvement when it goes too far.  They ruin relationships and end up depressed and alone.  They struggled to recover, pick up their lives and move on to a better future.  They blame others for what happens and become cynical and lose their ability to trust others.  This helps the cycle continue and things end up getting worse and worse.   At some point they look around and wonder how things got so bad.

No matter what happened to cause the disappointment, you need help to manage the aftermath.  Talk it out with a friend.  Call your mom, if she is supportive, but don’t let the disappointment become a cancer.  No matter what happened, think it through.  Evaluate what happened and let the experience help you create a new dream.  Sometimes, disappointment leads to new and better things.  It could lead to a better house, a better job, and a better opportunity.  I believe that there comes a time when fate steps in, and challenges us to think about things in a way that makes us better.  That challenge comes in all forms, from disappointment to down right heart break.  As I think about patients that I have supported through disappointment, most of them, I’m happy to say come through and find something better to focus on in the future.

Being disappointed is never easy.  It makes us question what we think is right, but it also makes us question whether dreams and goals are worth it.  They are, worth it!  They may not always turn out like we plan, but they can turn out and help us get the future that we hope will come.  Through disappointment and sadness, can come joy and hope.  Don’t let a good disappointment go to waste.  Harness the power, and let it help you regroup and recover.  It’s not fun, but it can be part of being happy for life.