Managing Disappointment

There are many twists and turns in life.  Things that we hope for, and other things that we question.  Sometimes we wish for things and they happen.  Other times we wish for things, but they don’t happen.  Managing disappointment is something we all need to do.  Sometimes we need to be careful what we wish for because what we wish for isn’t what’s right for us.  That’s harder to manage, because at first we don’t understand.  From helping my kids manage disappointment, to helping my patients, to helping myself, I often have to remember that disappointment is a part of life.  Learning how to overcome disappointment is a skill that everyone should learn, and master if you can.

When I think about working with patients, I think about the disappointment of losing a relationship, having to manage the loss of a loved one, or managing the reality of a life threatening diagnosis.  From not getting the job you wanted, to not getting a house that made you feel at home, there are so many moments in life that create disappointment.  All those moments also create lessons that help us pay attention to so many other things.  Some people say that they can create new opportunities, or change your perspective, but they still cause sadness. 

Disappointment is okay to feel, just like sadness.  The range of human emotions is vast, but we seem to avoid as many of the bad ones as we can.  We don’t seem to understand what role they play in making us better people.  Experiencing all the emotions that we as humans can have helps us develop empathy for others.  It helps remind us that we need others and makes future success all the better.  Don’t get me wrong, disappointment hurts, and feels awful, but it can spark change for good if we accept and learn from the event.

As my children grow up, they have lots of disappointments.  Having to tell them “no” creates learning but also helps them put the world into perspective.  I remember so many disappointments over the years, from failed relationships, to jobs I didn’t get, but I can look back and understand that my disappointments made me stronger as I learned from them.  I also understand that my disappointments, as well as my successes, lead me to where I am, and where I am is okay.   I can say that now, but I know that in the moment, it wasn’t okay.  It was awful, but I’m getting better at understanding it won’t be that way forever.  I will have better days, and things will be okay and I will have other opportunities.

There will always be disappointment, but there will also be good days.  There will be sadness, but there will also be success.  There will be loss, but there will also be gains.  In to each life a little rain must fall, but as we talked about before, the trick is not to avoid the disappointment, or the storm, but learn to dance in the rain.  So dance in the rain, for tomorrow is another day, and another opportunity, and so many more possibilities.  Appreciate your disappointments for what they have to teach you about yourself.  You are strong, and you will recover.  Disappointment is part of being happy, for life.