One thing you can count on in this life is being disappointed. It happens to all of us now and again. For example, you didn’t get the raise you thought you deserved. Your spouse didn’t do much for your birthday. A friend didn’t invite you to a party. When our expectations don’t align with reality, the result is disappointment.

Disappointment is a type of sadness that comes with having an expectation and being let down. It involves loss, the loss of something hoped for or desired.  It comes when we think something will make us happy and we don’t get it. Now, this doesn’t mean that the actual thing we desire will make us happy. It’s the expectation that it will.

Normalize disappointment
To quote Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want!” Because disappointment is part of living, normalize it and teach children early in life how to handle it. Help your children understand that there are many ways to achieve a goal. Then, help them assess what happened—what led to the loss? Was it predictable or preventable? Finally, learn from it and move on. Avoid lingering on the loss.

Some people avoid disappointment by having low expectations. They underachieve and set a low bar for their lives. This is a type of self-preservation. But it doesn’t help a person achieve his or her potential. Nor is it a fulfilling way to live. The opposite can also happen. You set the bar too high, expecting perfection. Of course, this also leads to disappointment because perfection is not sustainable and can lead to depression and anxiety.

Be content in the moment
A better way to deal with disappointment is to be more content in the moment. Stop comparing yourself to others or look to others to make you happy. This requires a certain security in knowing who you are and believing that a setback or an unrealized goal will lead to growth. The resilient person knows that a negative life event is not a personal failing. They don’t become angry or bitter. Instead they look for growth in the experience.

So when disappointment happens, linger on it long enough to ask these questions:

  • Was it in my control or beyond my control?
  • Were my expectations too high or unreasonable?
  • Could I have done anything different to change the outcome?
  • Is this something important to me or simply a wish?
  • Who can support me through the disappointment?
  • Is this an opportunity for me to grow?

When disappointment comes, go ahead and feel it. Talk to a friend about the experience. However, trust God, knowing He is working for our good. Then, redirect your energy to something positive. The best way to do this it to focus on the good things that have happened in your life and be grateful. Gratitude will take the pain out of disappointment. It’s a choice-allow discouragement or re-energize and grow.