5 tips to recover from disappointment (without being an a*se)
Updated: Jul 25, 2022
Perhaps you are deflated from England's defeat on Sunday, "...but lashing out at England or their manager Gareth Southgate is unacceptable." My comments in inews, and my tips to overcome disappointment - both personally or vicariously (without behaving like an a*se...or letting others' poor behaviour affect you!)
1. It’s OK to feel bad
Too often we grow up with the unhelpful message to “look on the bright side” which has a lot more to do with others’ inability to deal with people being sad, than helpful to us. It is perfectly acceptable to feel negative emotions – which can include anger, frustration, guilt even shame as well as sadness.
I would often recommend taking time out where you give yourself permission feel bad (but limit that time eg: 24 hours of wallowing – where you might also do things such as a Netflix binge or eating a tub of ice cream without guilt…you’ve allowed yourself to do this, there’s no need for guilt), and then get up, make your bed, have a shower, change clothes (and location in the house), and you can start off on your future game plan.
Incidentally, the same can be said of success - take 24 to really enjoy and savour it before you think about the next step!!
2. Remember everyone will have an opinion – hear the ones that matter
Especially when it is a topic of public interest, and with the accessibility of social media, everyone will have an opinion (and a means of expressing it). That opinion will be based on not only their experience, but their perspective…it’s easy to shout at the TV when you’re not the one walking to the penalty spot AND not only that, even if the opinion comes from someone experienced, their perspective and mindset will be different.
Therefore, focus on the voices whom you know have YOUR best interests at heart – the people who (outside disappointment) make you feel great, are there for you and you can be yourself with. In fact turn off social media and go and seek these people out for a while.
3. The outcome (and people’s approval of a positive one) is NOT what validates you, the fact you even got as far as the opportunity for that outcome is what counts!
The quality of the England players, for example, is NOT validated by winning the Euros and people telling them how great they are (in the same way as your quality is not validated by people saying “Oh wow, well done”), and therefore neither is it diminished by the absence of that praise. Recognise that you got to that point by doing your job well or by “doing life well” and this disappointment is simply something on the path to greater success. To return to England – the fact they got to the final, they played well, they lost on penalties (and Italy didn’t get all 5 either), they were underdogs and HEAVILY scrutinised by the media – I think this means they are already valid!
That’s the same with you. It’s not the opinion of other people that validate you – people will often praise success and reject failure – but validation comes from the fact that everything you have done has brought you to this point so far.
4. Reflect on your expectations
o What expectations did I have of myself and why?
o What expectations did I have of others and why?
o Were these expectations helpful to me?
Were they too trivial?
Were they inflexible?
Were they selfish?
Were they even mine!?
o What might I do to adjust them in future?
Our expectations can affect our immediate response to disappointment, but by taking the time to think about them, we might be able to recognise which thoughts were over things we can control, and which we can leave behind in future.
5. Can you view disappointment as a problem that needs to be solved?
When we take the emotion out of disappointment, we may simply be left with a problem that needs to be solved. This may help you find ways to:
- Address the issues creatively
- Recognise the areas that you need to work through
- Reach out for help where you need it/If you cannot solve it alone.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For self development tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt
Order The Leader's Guide to Resilience