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Let’s be frank. Disappointment sucks. You really want something, you work hard at it, you believe you can have it, you hope and dream….. And then, nada. It doesn’t come your way. There’s no sugar coating it; it hurts. It hurts because it’s something you truly wanted and so disappointment happens when it doesn’t come your way.

As I write this, its December. Many people are starting to reflect on the year that’s been. Many are telling me they’re feeling disappointed that they haven’t achieved what they wanted to this year. They’re in the same position as last year, nothing’s changed and it leaves a feeling of heaviness, hopelessness and many other feelings we associate with not achieving what we want.

I’ve been disappointed more times than I can remember too, my first business was a disappointment. I’ve missed out on promotions, payrises I was due for. I missed out on the house I wanted to buy. The job I wanted. Unrequited love. Rejection. We all face it and I don’t want to take away from the feeling of disappointment. It hurts, it sucks, no one wants it but it is a fact a life.

Whether it’s a promotion, a payrise, asking someone out, missing the sale or the project or anything else that doesn’t work out, disappointment leaves a sting and even more so when we take it as evidence of why we’re not enough or not worthy of what we want. Often we have a tendency to make the let down worse by making it mean something about us that isn’t really true. Disappointment is something that as humans is inevitably going to happen. How we deal with it that, though is what we’re in control of.

So, how do we actually deal with disappointment.

Feel the emotions

The first thing is to allow yourself to feel the emotion of it. Too often we want to block it off, convince ourselves it doesn’t matter, it was for the best anyway, we probably didn’t deserve it or weren’t good enough. No, no. Allow yourself to feel the disappointment without trying to justify it or explain it.

I find talking it out aloud to myself can be really helpful. Whatever the emotion I might start off by saying something like. “I’m really disappointed I didn’t get (insert your thing), it feels like…” and then you can describe your feelings. It might be heavy, crushing, tight in the chest, it might give feelings of shallow breathing, feelings of not being good enough. Whatever it is, name it. Talking out loud works well for me but journalling is another good process. We want to allow ourselves to feel the emotion, rather than blocking it off.

Ask for the lesson

Once you’ve fully felt the emotion and let it out (tears, anger, yelling whatever goes really), then it’s time to use the disappointment as a lesson. For me, disappointment brings clarity. It helps me see clearly what I do want. The next step then is to dig into that. Whether it’s out aloud with your voice or in your journal the next place to visit is WHY it’s so disappointing. This might start off with “I’m disappointed that I didn’t get (your thing) because….”. Now allow yourself to name all the REASONS why you’re disappointed. This is where the clarity comes. You may identify that it’s something that you really want and will continue to pursue. It might be that you were going after it to prove something to yourself or others and that you don’t really want it, you simply want to feel proud, successful, worthy. Maybe it’s something else for you. Your disappointed because you think it means something about you.

Just sit with this and discover what it really is your disappointed about. This self awareness is where the gold is and provides so much clarity if you allow yourself to dig into it. So go deep, uncover the truth. Find out what it is your REALLY disappointed about, so that your clear on where to go from here.

So now you’ve felt the emotion and you’ve gained the clarity. For many people it will go one of two ways (not everyone is the same, so if this isn’t you, that’s ok).

  1. You’ve found what you really want to manifest into your existence
  2. You’ve realised you were chasing something external to feel something internal
How to use this clarity

If you realised that you were disappointed because you really wanted the thing, then now is the time to take stock. Get really grateful about the clarity this has given you and then move into the lessons. What can you learn about not achieving the thing you wanted? What do you need to do differently next time? What were the lessons in the process to help you get closer to what you want?

If you realised you were disappointed because you wanted to feel a certain way, prove your worth and value. I’d invite you to take a look at what was the feeling you wanted to feel? How can you feel this way, with or without achieving the thing? I’ve seen in my own life how so much of what I really wanted was to feel a certain way about myself. If this is the same for you, how can you go about creating the feelings you want from within? This is a really fulfilling way to live life, know that you can feel worthy, good enough, successful and loved from yourself first. Then from that place go and achieve the dreams you want out of life.

Five steps to handling and learning from your disappointment

Let’s recap the five steps to feel, handle and learn from disappointment

  1. Allow yourself to feel the emotion, don’t block it, justify it or ignore it. Full permission to feel.
  2. Uncover why you are disappointed. This is where the clarity is.
  3. Lean into the lessons. What have you learnt along the way and how can you move closer to achieving what you want?
  4. Show some gratitude to the clarity and lessons you’ve learnt.
  5. How can you cultivate the feeling you wanted to feel internally. This is the fastest route to more joy and happiness in your day to day life.

What have been your biggest lessons from disappointments in the past? Are you able to look back now and see how they showed you what you truly wanted and lit the way for you to achieve and create them?