Disappointment is a natural reaction when things don’t go as intended. Expressing how you feel, sourcing a creative outlet, and avoiding blame may help you cope.
Breakups. Job loss. Health challenges. Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you planned.
It’s natural to feel disappointed when this happens. And although time heals, you might occasionally have a hard time moving on from past hurts. This is when you may need a coping strategy.
Inspirational quotes for when things don’t go as planned
Though it’s hard, you will get through this. Take it from these folks.
- “Rejection is merely a redirection; a course correction to your destiny.” — Bryant McGill, author and activist
- “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” — Pema Chodron, Buddhist nun and author of “When Things Fall Apart”
- “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” — Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist
- “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” — Henry David Thoreau, poet and philosopher
- “Sometimes, good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” — Marilyn Monroe, icon and film actress
Perhaps what’s done is done, but there’s still power in your response when things don’t go according to plan.
Try to hold space for any emotions that arise
When life gives you lemons… accept them. The first step when going through a hard time in life and coping with disappointment, is acknowledging difficult feelings, says Saba Harouni Lurie, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles.
“Anger, sadness, frustration, and grief may accompany the blow of disappointment. None of these are easy feelings to experience,” she explains. “Acknowledging them can mean allowing yourself to experience the full range of feelings, crying, yelling, or whatever else.”
Try to practice self-compassion
It may take some time to heal, so try not to pressure yourself, says Lurie.
“It can help to offer yourself compassion. Speak kindly to yourself as you feel and process what is coming up for you,” she says.
It may help to remember that you did the best you could with the knowledge and resources you had at the time. Still, other factors may interfere with your plans.
This is why it’s also a good idea to learn to cope with uncertainty, because, yes, sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you plan, things don’t work out.
Consider finding an outlet
You can process emotions in different ways. “This can look like talking to someone you feel safe with. It can also take the form of art making or journaling as long as there is room to move through the feeling and allow it the space it needs,” says Lurie.
Other ideas to cope with the emotions you experience when things don’t go your way, may include:
- freestyle dancing to your favorite beats
- lifting weights or exercising
- visiting a batting cage if you’re into it
- writing a spew letter (without sending it)
- yelling into a pillow
- having a private and unfiltered crying session
Consider reaching out for support
A great way to gain a new perspective about what happened is to consult your inner circle, says Georggetta Howie, a licensed clinical social worker in Washington DC.
“You can ask them about how they manage their disappointments. It neutralizes the intensity of the disappointment when you know you’re not alone and that others have also struggled with the feelings you are experiencing,” she explains.
Not everyone will realize your plans didn’t work out, so letting your inner circle know why this is difficult for you may also allow them to support you.
Try to practice self-responsibility
There are some things that we have no control over. But, in some cases, you may find it helpful to acknowledge how your actions may have contributed to the outcome, says Howie.
“Self-responsibility does not mean taking the blame for what does not go as planned, but evaluating what, if anything, you could have done differently,” she says.
To support this process, Howie recommends books like “Get Out Your Own Way” by Mark Goulston and Philip Goldberg and “The Mountain is You” by Brianna Wiest.
If possible, try not to run from how you’re feeling, says Howie. “My hope is that you never avoid disappointment, but you learn to embrace it as a human emotion that you are capable of managing,” she says.
You may find it helpful to avoid:
- blaming others
- distracting yourself from emotions
- engaging in habits that promote escapism
- trying not to be alone with your thoughts
- emotional drinking
Ruminating over past mistakes or what happened can prevent you from reaching a place of acceptance, says Lurie.
“If your feelings have become all-consuming and begin to interrupt your ability to function on a daily basis, it might be appropriate to seek the support and guidance of a licensed professional therapist,” she explains.
Lurie says that therapy can help you:
- honor your feelings
- reframe and reassess events
- find acceptance
- move forward
Along with therapy, she also recommends reading “Tiny Beautiful Things,” by Cheryl Strayed.
When things don’t turn out the way you planned, it’s natural to feel a range of emotions, like anger, sadness, frustration, and grief.
You may find it helpful to hold space for your feelings, channel them productively, evaluate your role in what happened, and seek the support of a therapist if you feel it’s impacting your mood and behavior.