How to Cope With Disappointment in Your Life

On Friday July 16, several announcements were made that athletes expected to compete in the Tokyo Olympics would be curtailed as a result of their positive COVID-19 test results. The Tokyo Olympics have already been delayed for one year, and a resurgence of COVID-19 infections caused by the delta variant could put the brakes on it once more. The organizers already announced that spectators wouldn't be allowed at indoor events. From the coaches to the athletes and family members to fans, there's a lot of disappointment in these developments.

Beyond professional athletic events, everyday people also have to deal with major disappointments in their lives. Perhaps you interviewed for a job that you were very excited about. Maybe it was even your dream job at your dream company, and you really needed that job. You then got the dreaded email to thank you for your time and to let you know that you were passed by for someone who's a better fit. It's also possible that you just had a special event in your life, such as a milestone birthday or a graduation. You hoped that your loved one would cheer you on, but they didn't even make a remark about the occasion. Disappointment once can leave you feeling down, but if it happens over and over, it can lead to depression. Read on for some healthy tips on how to cope with disappointment in your life.

Understand Where the Disappointment Comes From

Disappointment comes from making an emotional investment. The job interview you prepared for, the degree you spent years earning and the relationship you spent so much time nurturing are all huge sinks of your time, effort and energy. When one of these things disappoints you, it's a huge emotional let-down. You put so much of yourself into it that it feels like a personal failure and loss when it doesn't come to fruition. These feelings are absolutely normal, and there's nothing wrong with feeling grief, frustration, anger, sadness or other strong emotions. It's okay to not feel okay for a while, especially when the situation was a personal one that directly affected your life and your hopes and dreams for your future.

Look at the Situation With Logic

So, you didn't get the dream job with the dream company. What now? Look at the situation objectively. Perhaps the company needed someone with Tableau expertise for their new project, and you've never used it. Maybe an internal candidate was selected. Perhaps they decided to add onto the responsibilities, and it would have caused you to work 60-hour weeks for the next six months. There are a few ways you can analyze your disappointment logically. In the case of the job interview, thank the manager for their time, and ask if they can provide feedback about you as a candidate. They might tell you that you were great, and that they thought you were overqualified and would be dissatisfied with the simple work. They might tell you that they really needed someone with management experience, and that's who they picked.

If your spouse didn't congratulate you on your promotion, consider their perspective. Maybe they had a tough day or week at work. Maybe they wonder why they haven't had a promotion in a while. You could even bring this up. Say something like, "I was so excited to tell you my news, and your reaction was a non-reaction. Is there something we should talk about?" This can reduce your anxiety and may give you an explanation for why they didn't feel as excited as you did about your news.

Focus Your Energy on a New Effort

The interview didn't pan out. Send the manager or recruiter a thank-you note, and ask them to keep you in mind for future positions for which you would be a good fit. Then, move on to new opportunities. Sign up for a community college, Udemy or Coursera class. Talk to your alumni association. Look at job postings. Submit more applications. Use the adrenaline and cortisol from your disappointment to work toward a new, positive goal in your life.

Spend Some Time on Self-care

After a huge disappointment, be sure to take care of yourself. Eating the whole box of ice cream or drinking a bottle of wine will only increase your sense of shame. Go on a walk. Chat with a friend. Dance to your favorite song. Prepare a warm bath. These actions reduce stress hormones.