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Disappointment is a fact of life. It happens to every single one of us. People let us down. Things go wrong. Plans change. So why is it still so damn frustrating when it happens?

Get Used to Disappointment

I should have been on a plane to Cancun, Mexico right now. I was supposed to be meeting other influential travel bloggers and making connections all over the world. I was supposed to be networking and learning how to grow my brand. Things were supposed to be happening for me. This was supposed to be MY TIME.

Ever been here? Where things are just NOT going according to plan?

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” – Allen Saunders

Instead, due to a series of circumstances, life has brought me to Pickles Gap Road in Conway, Arkansas (yes, really). And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been in a slump since I got here.

Disappointment is a tricky sort of feeling. It masks itself in emotions like hurt, sadness, anger, or depression. One of the reasons for this is that we don’t like to acknowledge disappointment when it occurs.

Because when you’re living boldly, chasing adventure, claiming your right to live a life of freedom & joy, everything is just supposed to be great, right? And when it’s not, you should be able to just brush it off and move on? RIGHT?

The problem with trying to barrel through disappointment like Mario is that even when you’re trying to pretend something doesn’t bother you, it eats away, niggling in the back of your mind like a parasite, casting a gray cloud over your eyes.

So how do we genuinely move past disappointment and back into a state of happiness?

1. Allow yourself to be where you are.

concentrate on the present moment | www.ramblingmandie.com

In a world that moves at the speed of technology, where we’re constantly looking ahead, planning, taking action – one of the hardest things to do is just allow yourself to experience an emotion. 

Human beings are impatient. We want to speed up the recovery process and get back out there as soon as possible. We tell ourselves that we are strong, capable people who should be able to get over it and move on.

The messages we get from society reinforce this. Broke up with your boyfriend? Get back out there; plenty of fish in the sea. Lost your job? Start pounding the pavement. Even during the extremely tough times like losing a loved one we might take a week or two off but then we’re expected to get back to normal.

Now I’m not saying we should lock ourselves away for weeks on end every time we experience disappointment, but we do need to let ourselves feel what we feel without any agenda to “just get over it.”

Sometimes the only way through an emotion is just that – through it. There’s no detour around or shortcut over. Take some time to just sit with your emotion and experience it without trying to change it or fix it. The simple act of letting yourself feel something allows you to release it and move forward.

“Life is available only in the present moment.” – Thích Nhat Hanh, Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions

When I finally sat down and said “You know what? I’m really bummed out right now.” I immediately felt lighter.

2. Stop with the ‘should.’

I should have gotten that promotion. I should be the one dating her. I SHOULD be on a plane to Cancun right now. Sound familiar?

There’s a major problem with the word should.

When we use the words should or shouldn’t in relation to ourselves or others, we’re not living in the here and now; we’re not accepting reality. We’re dwelling on what we wish was or wasn’t. The word ‘should’ perpetuates a lack of self-acceptance.

how it's supposed to be

 

When I say I should be doing something, what I’m really doing is reinforcing the negative – the fact that I’m NOT doing it.

“I should have gotten that promotion…but I got passed over again.”

“I should be the one dating her…but I blew it.”

“I should be on a plane to Cancun…but I’m not.”

When we try to tell ourselves that we shouldn’t be feeling a so-called “negative” emotion like hurt, anger, or disappointment, we’re really telling ourselves that there is something wrong with us. That we made a bad decision. That we are failing.

Being negative with ourselves does nothing to improve upon the situation.

“Shit on should.” – Maha Valerie Christensen

When you find yourself speaking in shoulds, try to re-frame the statement to accept reality, acknowledge your feelings about it, and focus on the opportunity for growth.

Check out these 3 empowering alternatives to ‘should’ on Tiny Buddha.

3. Remember who you are.

Last week I talked about identifying your core reason for doing what you’re doing, and how this can keep you going through the tough times. The same goes for getting through a disappointment.

Disappointment can crash over you like a wave and if you don’t have a strong concept of who you are and what your core values are, it’s easy to get swept away.

stay true to you

One of my core values is living my life with passion & using my unique gifts help people. Above all I want to inspire people to break through whatever is holding them back and realize that freedom is a state of mind.

Do I need to post pictures on Facebook of myself drinking margaritas with friends on a beach in Cancun in order to do this? Or can I inspire people just as much (maybe even more) by being exactly who I am, where I am, in this moment?

(I really hope I can, otherwise…well, there’s Photoshop.)

Another core value of mine – more of a mantra, really, is “adventure is an attitude.” This means living every day with an open heart. Whether I’m deep sea diving in Bali or being my sister’s horse model (yep, apparently that’s a thing) I choose to embrace the adventure in each opportunity.

Is holding onto my disappointment helping me live closer to these values? Uhhh, nope!

4. Let it out.

It’s pretty tough to have perspective when you keep everything buzzing around in your head. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what we’re feeling and get stuck in a cycle of negativity. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own minds & clear our mental browser cache.

Maybe that means writing it down. Maybe it means talking to a friend or just out loud to yourself. Practice expressing your frustration without casting blame, wallowing in self-pity, or reinforcing a defeatist attitude.

If you need to, scream, curse, stomp around like a 3 year old for a minute (preferably not in public). Do whatever you need to do to let it out and let it go.

(I totally just got the Frozen song stuck in your head, didn’t I?)

“You can’t hold that many thoughts in your head at once. If you want to solve a problem it can be helpful to write down your thoughts, facts and feelings about it. Then you don’t have to use your for mind for remembering, you can instead use it to think more clearly. Having it all written down gives you an overview and makes it easier to find new connections that can help you solve the problem.” – Henrik Edberg, The Positivity Blog

5. Get some perspective.

Giving yourself the freedom to feel what you need to feel is telling yourself “It’s okay, take your time. I’m not going to rush you.” This gives you the space you need to regain some perspective.

If you’ve been disappointed by another person, chances are that person never intended to let you down, and in fact, probably doesn’t even realize that they have. Maybe they’re stressed out and just weren’t thinking. Maybe they’re going through something you’re not aware of. Maybe they’re not allowing themselves to experience their own emotions so it’s causing them to react badly.

Sometimes new information can help you gain perspective on a situation. I remember one time where I hadn’t seen my significant other in two weeks and we had a date night planned. Dinner, wine, candles, the whole shebang. I even shaved my legs.

On my way over, I got a phone call. “I’m really sorry, babe, but I have to go out with the guys tonight.”

I was pissed, I was hurt, and suffice to say, I was pretty disappointed. Then he went on to tell me that his best friend’s mom had just died and some guys from work were taking him out so he wouldn’t be alone.

Was I still disappointed? Sure, but having a new perspective helped me accept and move through it much more easily.

everyone you meet is fighting a battle

The important point here is that you can’t force a new perspective on yourself. If you try to rush this before you’ve allowed yourself to just be in moment and let it out, it won’t be genuine and it won’t last. We don’t always get the additional information we need to process disappointment quickly, so we just have to work through it.

“Trying to force yourself into a positive state of mind is like trying to chase all the darkness out of the room before you turn on the light.” – Me

6. Use your support system.

I’m certainly not the only person to experience disappointment, and neither are you. I’m willing to bet that you have people in your life who have gone through something similar and can help you get back in the right state of mind.

If you’re serious about living a life of freedom, passion & adventure, you should be surrounding yourself with people who support, inspire & motivate you to become the best person you can be.

people who are going to lift you higher

Once you have those people in your life, use them (I mean that in the best possible way).

Newsflash: you do not have to do it all by yourself, nor is it even possible. But guess what? No one can support you if you don’t let them. We all like to put our best face forward, but the truth is that being vulnerable is far, far more powerful than having all the answers.

Hello, would Rocky have spawned 5 sequels if the guy had never lost a fight?

Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re struggling with something, or feeling frustrated. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you brave.

7. Remember the power of choice.

We know bad things happen. We know that people are going to let us down. We know that life is not smooth sailing all the time. We know this in our head, but that doesn’t mean we’re always willing to accept it.

I’ve been wallowing in disappointment all week. I’m not proud of this, but it’s a fact. I’ve been unwilling to accept the fact that right now I’m in Conway, Arkansas instead of in Cancun.

I have to accept that I am disappointed right now and I will continue to experience these feelings at various times for the rest of my life. It’s just a side-effect of being human and not a super cyborg.

Accepting that feeling this way is a part of life let’s me take back my power to be fully present in the midst of a negative emotion. That means I can choose to let it help me grow. I can choose to believe that my life is good and I am a fundamentally happy person even while experiencing disappointment.

We cant always control what happens to us, but we can control our responses.


 

Just in case none of this helps at all and you’re still totally bummed out…here’s a picture of an adorable kitten:

adorable kitten

Do ya feel better? Do ya?

Author

Mandie

Mandie is a writer, rebel & web design junkie. In her spare time she enjoys drinking wine, traveling & working on her perpetually unfinished novel. She was a nerd before it was cool.

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Comments

  1. Greg | Travel Blue Book    

    Awww dude! I’m sorry that you weren’t able to make it to Cancun. These are good tips for going through any sort of grieving process, however. I hope that circumstances change, and everything is OK for you.

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks Greg! Honestly, I made the decision not to go based on a lot of very good reasons, and I don’t regret it. I was just pouting a bit & thought I’d try to turn my disappointment into something positive. 🙂

  2. Maha    

    Dang! I’m sorry. Disappointment sucks, especially when you’re missing out on something you think would have contributed to your career aspirations, But it is said that nothing happens by accident..so perhaps there were good reasons on a cosmic level.

    Good writing; wise reflections; YOU ROCK, Mandie!

    Blessed be,
    Maha
    P.S. WOW! I’m famous — I’ve been quoted in a world-renowned blog by a world traveler! lol

    1. Mandie    

      Haha, you are famous. 🙂 I hope I got that quote right – it came to me secondhand but I thought it was too poignant NOT to include!

      You’re absolutely right, nothing is an accident. In all honesty, not going to Cancun was the right move for me financially AND professionally. I had just gotten it into my head that I should be living this high-flying life every single second now, and I forgot for a minute that living a life of daily adventure is a CHOICE. I’m back to being awesome now though. 🙂

  3. Amy Lynne Hayes    

    I have learned well every single one of these tips for dealing with disappointment. Getting deported was probably the most disappointing thing to have happened thus far, but in looking back, it was a blessing in disguise (and I hate that cliché). I found digging into the concepts of Buddhism helped quite a bit, as well as moving forward to formulate new plans when old ones don’t work out. In the end, it all turns out fine. See you at TBEX next year? 😉

    1. Mandie    

      I still can’t believe you got deported. Kind of funny in hindsight (isn’t it always?) I’ve been digging into Buddhism quite a lot lately, as well as being an avid Law of Attraction follower…if you couldn’t tell from all the quotes popping up all over. 🙂

      I will definitely plan on seeing you next year at TBEX!

  4. kelli    

    Hi Mandie
    Sorry to hear your plans did not go as expected. I really loved this post and I agree with all the points you made. I particularly resonate with the first one. The first about letting yourself feel the emotions is very important. We are conditioned to just ‘suck it up’ and feel better; if you are of the personal development ilk, you may get upset you are even experiencing them at all–we feel we should have transcended this already! What gives?? But, most of us are not so wise we will have zero reaction to the unwanted experiences in our lives. I have gotten better at that allowing. By just accepting and not resisting, the intensity reduces and the feelings tend not to last as long. We are less wrapped up in them, and are in more of a position of observing like a third party.
    Great post!

    1. Mandie    

      Hey Kelli,

      I think you totally nailed it there – those of us personal development, LOA followers sometimes get it in our heads that stuff just shouldn’t bother us (and there’s that shouldn’t word again). Let me tell you, I was sitting there listing all my ‘gratitude points’ like crazy and basically yelling at myself to BE HAPPY. Lol. Literally the second I allowed myself to be “less than perfect” I could feel the negativity leaving me. Acceptance sort of allows you to transcend the feeling and retain your mindfulness. A much better technique than mentally yelling at yourself. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping over!!

  5. Catherine Holt    

    Awesome post Mandie. You know what….disappointment is something that can seriously eat away at people, and you don’t actually realise the harm that it can do.

    Yes, things can be disappointing, but you seriously just have to pick yourself up and move on. What will dwelling on something achieve? Will it change the situation? No. Will it make you feel bad? Yes. The only outcome is a negative one.

    Love that you put, don’t dwell on the “should”. My hubby and I have been listening to a lot of David Wood’s podcasts. One of the things he says is “should have , could have …didn’t!” That’s it…end of! There is no point in dwelling on what you should have done. What have you lost by not doing it? Nothing! Honestly…you didn’t have it in the first place!

    Focus on the now…the why…and remain positive.

    Easier said than done? Absolutely it is…and I am as guilty of it as the next, but if you keep it in the back of your mind not to dwell on the disappointments and what ‘could have been’, you will only see improvements from it.

    Love these kind of thought provoking posts 🙂

    1. Mandie    

      Hey Catherine, thanks for stopping by!

      You definitely can’t get stuck on should. It’s a dangerous thing to have in your mind. You can’t change the past. The only thing you can control is the present, to move yourself forward to the future. I enjoy David Wood as well, and that’s such a great point – you didn’t LOSE anything, because you never actually had it.

      Always better to focus on the positive changes that you can make, but like you say…sometimes it’s easier said than done. That’s why we all need a little reminder and some easy steps to follow every now and then. 🙂

      Thanks for the great comment, Catherine!

  6. Linda Bibb    

    Oh, Mandie, thank you for this post. Like you, I was utterly disappointed at not making it to Cancun for TBEX. For me, though, it wasn’t the “should” that got me, it was focusing on what I was missing out on. I had to focus on what I would have missed HERE, with family, if I had been in Mexico instead. Life is a series of trade-offs. Sometimes the biggest disappointments turn out to be the biggest blessings in the end.
    Thanks for this. I’m sharing it with my friends.

    1. Mandie    

      So true, Linda. “Sometimes the biggest disappointments turn out to be the biggest blessings.” It’s definitely helpful to remember that when you can’t see through to the other side yet. 🙂

      I was really looking forward to meeting so many of the people that I network with and have connected with in our blogosphere, but I also know that there will be more opportunities to do so (hopefully ones that won’t set me back over $1,000)!

      Thanks for stopping by, Linda!

  7. Anna    

    Oh Mandie, I hope you’re making the best of your time in Arkansas!

    Disappointment is so hard, and it is so important to not dwell on the “should”. I think though, my worse problem is that sometimes, I stop being disappointed even because I never believed that I deserved something in the first place. So if something didn’t happen, then no big deal! I think it’s just a defense mechanism really so that I DON’T feel disappointed if something doesn’t happen. I’m trying to work hard to change this around and increase my self-worth.

    So the point that really resonates with me is #7 – the power of choice. I can CHOOSE to think positively more than negatively. And I can learn and grow with each struggle/disappointment.

    Love this as always!

    1. Mandie    

      Well I’ve been attacked by chiggers, but other than that it’s been good! 🙂

      A subconscious belief that you don’t deserve something is definitely a major obstacle to overcome, and one that I’ve worked hard to get over myself. Something that’s helped me a lot is just taking 20 minutes each morning to sit and fill my head with positive affirmation; to visualize all of my dreams coming true and tell myself that this is the life that was meant for me. It sounds really cheesy, but if you tell yourself something enough, you’ll eventually start to believe it. 🙂

      And yes, we CAN choose. Some things are out of our control but the way we respond to them never is.

      Thanks, Anna!

  8. Andrew M. Warner    

    Hi Mandie,

    First time here on your blog. You have some really great content and from what I’ve seen so far, the featured image you share on your blog posts are really captivating. Great job on those.

    Now, onto your post. I really liked the points that you made there. The first point speaks volumes because you do have to allow yourself to be where you are. Things happen for a reason and you have no control over that.

    “Now I’m not saying we should lock ourselves away for weeks on end every time we experience disappointment, but we do need to let ourselves feel what we feel without any agenda to ‘just get over it.'”

    So true. There’s plenty times I’ve experienced things like you mentioned and I had the mentality to ‘get over it’ because that’s what I was always told. If we just let ourselves feel what we feel, we’ll be much better off.

    And I also agree with the point about a support system. That helps TREMENDOUSLY.

    “Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re struggling with something, or feeling frustrated. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you brave.”

    That’s wisdom right there. Great post.

    Hope you have an awesome weekend.

    – Andrew

    1. Mandie    

      Hey Andrew!

      Really appreciate you popping over. I’m probably a little crazy for hand crafting my featured images, but design habits die hard. Plus, I’m a die-hard Pinterest addict, so I like to make my images ‘pinnable.’ 🙂

      I think any of us who have taken on a position of leadership & coaching feel like we should just brush it off and be on top all the time. We feel like the down swings are failure, instead of just growth opportunities. (Or, in my case, blog post opportunities).

      Thanks for the insightful comment, and I hope you have a fantabulus weekend as well!

      Mandie

  9. Adrienne    

    Hi Mandie,

    This is my first time here too and I like your blog. The images are really awesome and if you made them yourself then all I can say is very impressive.

    Ah, disappointment. That’s just part of life right! Being the woman that I am, I think we deserve our pouting time. However long that takes as long as it’s not years! LOL!!! But really, when we’re disappointed about something no matter what it is we’re allowed that time to be upset about it. The real part of life is saying okay, now it’s time to move on. I’ve learned that dwelling on something for far too long gets us nowhere real soon.

    I love the steps though that you took us through that can help with this. I just helped a friend a couple weeks ago grieve over the loss of her cat which was like a child to her. Boy was she ever disappointed that she couldn’t save her from the illness that overcame her. My heart just broke for her but I let her cry and rant and do whatever she needed because she needed that friend to be there for her. People have told her it’s just a cat, get over it. Man I want to slap people like that who are so insensitive.

    Sorry, I get carried away about things like that but I think you know where I’m coming from.

    Sorry you didn’t make your trip but sounds like the decision was yours and it all worked out. Doesn’t mean it’s not disappointing though right!

    Thanks for sharing these great tips and you enjoy your upcoming weekend.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks Adrienne!

      Oh my gosh, I lost my cat (who was definitely my child) right before I left on my trip and it was incredibly devastating to me. I’m so glad you just let your friend be upset. People who say “it’s just a pet” do need to be slapped, I agree.

      You’re absolutely right that dwelling for too long gets us nowhere. That’s why it’s important to use the resources that we have to deal with this stuff and move on in a healthy manner. Or chocolate. Chocolate helps, too. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by the blog, glad you like it! I appreciate the comment, and you’re always allowed to ramble around here! Haha

  10. lynne    

    What a very enlightening post. Number 7 gave a good impact on my mind right now , “We cant always control what happens to us, but we can control our responses.” It is up to us to make the right responses to every situation we have in life, If we choose to get stuck then we are stuck, but if we choose to just be ourselves and let it out , good results awaits us. Thanks for sharing. Great Post!

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks, Lynne!
      Remembering that I can control my response instead of simply reacting has been really helpful for me. “If we choose to get stuck then we are stuck.” This is so true! You definitely have the right attitude about it, so I have no doubt that you will see those good results. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping to comment!

  11. Sherill Torres    

    Loved reading your post. It came in such a timely manner as I just undergone a big dissapointment in my life. I became angry and cried a little, but did not dwell on it for so long as it was not getting me anywhere and I had to take care of the other aspects of my life which could not be pushed aside. You are absolutely right when you said, We cant always control what happens to us, but we can control our responses. This is what I put in my mind and move forward.

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks Sherrill! Great attitude. 🙂 I was undergoing some serious post-travel blues when I wrote this, but once I acknowledged that and made the decision to keep moving forward, it got a lot easier. 🙂

  12. Michael Sims    

    Hi Mandie,
    I’m old enough to know better – and have studied buddhism for years which maintains that clinging to the past only causes suffering – but I’ve been pretty depressed for 2 weeks because of a circumstantial disappointment just like yours. I should be enjoying the summer in the high desert of Arizona (the culmination of a year of living differently) but I find myself in my old neighborhood, in the rainy season, fighting traffic to go to the dentist…and I blame myself for making a decision based on fear instead of abundance – putting me back here where I sooo don’t want to be.
    BUT…your article reminded me we all go through disappointments – big and small. That it’s ok to allow yourself to feel the loss, to reach out to your support group to gain perspective and that other doors will inevitably open.
    Thanks for the simple, good advice.
    Ps Thanks for the kitty picture
    Michael from Costa Rica

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