Disappointment – Is it just another word to describe Adulthood?

2020 has been a year full of disappointment, fear and for some loss and heartache. But as we tip toe into the new year I find myself wondering how we have dealt with the last year and the disappointments we have had to face.

For most holidays have been cancelled, events postponed and celebrations halted, we have seen up close how fragile our social, personal and professional lives are. It is scary.

As adults we are expected to keep it all together, and deal with our disappointments in a more constructive manner. But how do we do this? It can be difficult to “adult” when our emotional resilience is being tested.

When we are faced with disappointment we can feel angry, sad or even betrayed. These are all natural responses. But you may notice how some people deal with disappointment differently to you. So why is there such a difference in the way we deal with disappointment?

It sounds very Freud but the way we deal with disappointment in our adult lives is rooted to our childhood. This is why some people are fearful of failing and become underachievers while others feel free to explore and over achieve. 

It becomes a cycle of our lives where we are fearful of the unknown. We don’t take the change well and also feel that an event that has caused us disappointment is a personal attack.

When faced with disappointment we tend to associate negative life events to our personal failings. It then results in self-blame and at times feeling of shame or even humiliation come forward, “How could we fall for this again?!”

You had an image in your mind of who you are, known as your ideal self and for some reason you feel you aren’t measuring up to it. That is why you failed and let yourself down. That is when we start feeling anger towards ourselves. Or in some cases you might then direct that anger outwards resulting in becoming spiteful, bitter or even vindictive. 

How can you change this? How can you deal with disappointment in a constructive manner where you are able to overcome such life events?

Disappointments may be unpleasant but can also be used as a learning opportunity.

  • Could it have been prevented? Some times certain life events are beyond our control. Recognising what is within our control and what is beyond can help us to manage our disappointment and deal with our frustrations correctly. Are we expecting too much or too little? Maybe we need to modify our expectations.
  • When we are constantly faced with disappointment we may need to evaluate our perception and behaviours. Is there anyway you can adjust your expectations to be more effective next time? Are you being realistic with your plans? Knowing what is going on around you, are you choosing to ignore or turn a blind eye? Why is that? 
  • How can we move from this disappointment without it turning into apathy and depression? Becoming preoccupied by the bad news or events that surround us every day can cause us to lose sight of what is going right within our lives. 

By internalising feelings of sadness and anger we are then hanging onto them and they can then unconsciously become our identity. How can you direct your focus onto positive solutions?

Disappointment is a part of life and it should not destroy us, instead it can strengthen us and make us better through growth. Growth comes through gaining an insight into ourselves, looking beneath the surface and requires a journey of self reflection.

Talking therapy is a safe place where you can explore the different ways in which you can challenge any negative thinking, disappointments and start your journey for self reflection and growth.