Dealing with Disappointment

By Michael Ashworth, Ph.D.

People who are disappointed are at greater risk of physical or emotional difficulties, or both. Such individuals appear to have a greater frequency of headaches, gastrointestinal difficulties, moist palms, and over-perspiration than those scoring low on this scale. For some, being very disappointed for prolonged periods of time can lead to chronic stress problems.

Disappointment results from thoughts and expectations being out of line with reality. Your expectations and hopes for others may be too high for the situation at hand. Even if you think your expectations are appropriate and realistic, they may not be realistic at all. One solution is to change your expectations to more realistic levels.

Some disappointments are actually predictable and preventable. Others are totally unavoidable. It is important to differentiate between the two so that you can respond appropriately.

Repeated disappointment may be the result of a pattern of faulty or irrational thinking. If you are frequently disappointed, evaluate what you are thinking and try to change faulty thinking patterns.

Things You Can Do To Help With Your Disappointment

Shift your expectations
Expectations play a central role in disappointment and the resulting stress. Evaluate what you expect from family and coworkers. Check to see if your expectations are fair and reasonable. If not, change your expectations.

Determine if your disappointment is specific to one person or situation, or to almost all aspects of your life. By doing this, you will be able to focus your energies more effectively. Write down specific examples and look for the cause, not just the symptom, of your stress.

Ask others if they think your expectations are out of line with what is reasonable and possible. They may have a better or at least a different perspective. Listen to what they say and, where appropriate, make necessary changes.

Redirect your thinking
The good news is that you can control how you think (although you have no control over the action or thoughts of others). If someone consistently cannot give you what you want, then at some point it may be in your best interest to accept the person as is. As a last resort, you may choose to not spend time with that person.

Stop dwelling on your disappointments. Dwelling does not change the person or situation. Sometimes we get so preoccupied with thinking about a situation that does not meet our needs that we create unnecessary stress. Thinking does not change a negative situation, but it will change how you feel. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, redirect and focus on positive solutions.

Regain control of your thoughts and plan for the next encounter. A stressmaster is always looking to find ways to regain control of his or her thoughts. This is the first step to making that leap from feeling out of control to being in control of your life.

Communicate more effectively
Recognize that you have little control over others. You do, however, have some influence. Disappointment can be reduced or eliminated by better communication. Listen more to what others are really saying and, when necessary, restate what you hear. Most stress is caused by not understanding what the person is saying and meaning. By restating what was said you reduce problems at the very beginning. Try starting with “if I understand you correctly, what you are saying is…”

You can also ask others to restate what they think you said. For example, you might ask an employee, “John, would you tell me what you heard me say so that we are both clear on what I want.” This is a simple but powerful tool.

 

APA Reference
Ashworth, M. (2007). Dealing with Disappointment. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/dealing-with-disappointment/000990
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

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