Dealing with Disappointment
I’m sure there will be a lot of posts surrounding this election in the days, possibly weeks, to come. I’ll keep my comments on it brief, since I feel like the entire situation can be used for a larger topic on dealing with disappointment in many life situations.
I’m really not a big political person. I don’t enjoy political discussions, I try and keep my opinions off of social media, and I generally just go with the flow of things. I wasn’t particularly excited about this election because I felt like neither candidate was really a great choice. I was asked if I was excited that Hillary might be the first female president (this was when she was prognosticated to win), and I really wasn’t. I felt like if she won it would be because her opponent was so outlandish that it would almost be a win in spite of an even worse outcome, not on her own merit. I felt like if there was a better opposing candidate she most likely wouldn’t win.
Even though she wasn’t the ideal outcome, I still felt far better having her as president than I did about the other possibility. Someone with no political experience, someone who speaks blatant hate about certain racial and religious groups, and someone incites violence at his own rallies surely couldn’t win the vote of this country. I’m really just disappointed. I know that as a collective we will be ok, but I’m legitimately confused about the reasons people would have for voting the way they did. If you did vote for Trump, I’m not judging or defriending you for your choice; I’d just honestly like to know what characteristics he possesses that led you to your decision.
Election aside, life is full of disappointments. People close to you may let you down, your career might not go the way you anticipated, or you may feel like you’ve disappointed yourself in some way. The difference in how we respond to disappointments is what either allows us to move on or to remain stagnant and bitter with the outcome. As someone who has been through a series of these in my life, these are the steps that help me come to terms with those disappointments.
1. Acknowledge the facts
The first thing to do is acknowledge what has occurred. My senior year of high school I plagiarized one of my English papers. I wanted to spend time with my boyfriend and not write another paper when the school year was almost over, so I copied bits and pieces from the internet and turned it in as my own. My teacher discovered what I’d done, informed my mom, and I ended up receiving a D in the class and ruining my four-year honor roll record.
I started by denying it until it was obvious that I was caught red-handed. From there I had to accept the consequences of my actions and realize that there was nothing I could do to turn around my grade. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but no other real alternative. A lesson learned for sure.
2. Feel the feelings
This is one of the hardest ones for me to do. Sitting in discomfort is never fun, but it’s necessary to be able to move past certain events. I woke up Wednesday morning and checked my phone to see if something had miraculously changed. It hadn’t. From then on, I just felt bummed out for most of the day. I didn’t have energy to work out, I wanted to eat all the desserts, and I wanted to stop in every store on the way home and buy things until I felt better.
It’s important to listen to your feelings and emotions. Be gentle with yourself when you’re feeling emotional. I skipped my favorite workout of the week, and you know what? It’s ok. It’s what I needed to do. Sometimes grabbing a treat is what you need during those times. Whatever it is, the worst thing you can do is shame yourself further when you’re done. A missed workout isn’t going to kill anyone. Buying something for yourself isn’t the end of the world. See how these actions fit into your life and make sure not to label them as bad or good.
While we all need a little comfort from time to time, do make sure to sit with those feelings so you can experience them. Talk to someone about them. If there’s no one to talk to, write about them. Just getting them outside of yourself is a step closer to getting through them.
3. Accept the outcome
During my addiction I let a lot of people down. Many of them forgave me, but some friendships I once held have fallen by the wayside. When you hurt others, you can’t always expect everyone to understand why you did certain things and let them go. I have to respect their feelings and accept the outcome.
After you’ve felt your feelings around a disappointment, you’ll have to learn to accept things the way they are. You may not be able to directly change the outcome, but you may be able to indirectly work towards a solution. In my case, I can let old friends know that I am always available if they have a change of heart and I can treat the friends I do have better than the way I did in the past.
4. Look at the big picture
I advocate this over and over again as a way to change your perspective on a negative situation. Take a step back. Try and find something positive in the situation. If you can’t find anything positive, look for a lesson that can be learned. I think knowledge is so important and being able to either learn something to take with you in the future or finding a way to change your behavior going forward is sometimes worth those disappointments.
At the end of it all, always get up and keep going. Some of the hardest climbs can be conquered by continuing to walk.
Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.
- What do you do in dealing with disappointment?
- How many donuts did you eat today? 🙂