Finding hope after disappointment isn’t always easy. Disappointment comes when you expect something to happen or to be true and your expectation is unfulfilled. You’re let down by the circumstance or the person. This may cause you to feel deeply sad or betrayed. You may have a sense of loss or regret. There may be a period of mourning. It’s all normal.
On the other end of disappointment, there is hope. This is where you can find new perspectives and possibilities. You can learn from the experience and explore how you might behave differently next time. It may be a chance for a new beginning.
There are all kinds of disappointment—from not winning the lottery this week, to hearing your child did something she promised never to do. From learning that your boss chose someone else for the promotion you wanted, to finding out that your husband cheated on you. Lots of major and minor events can cause disappointment.
When something is important to you and it doesn’t work out the way you hoped, you are naturally disappointed. Now you get to decide what to do with it.
Things are as they are. We suffer because we imagined things would be different.
Finding Hope After Disappointment
Recently I was very disappointed to learn that my niece and nephew and their baby girl are moving clear across the country. My niece is like a daughter to me, and my nephew—the son I never had. And then, there’s their little girl, upon whose head the sun rises and sets for all of us.
When I first heard the news, I could feel my heart break. I imagined that I would be reading to my little one all the books I lovingly picked out. I thought we would be playing with the same toddler puzzles until she grew out of them. I was sure our impromptu get-togethers for pizza on a Friday night would be forever. A huge disappointment.
Now that the day of their departure is drawing very near, I’m thinking more about how to stay connected with them. I’m focusing on how I can help relieve their stress around the move by packing boxes for them.
As I search for the silver lining, I’m finding hope after the disappointment.
Rather than wallowing in the loss, which is deep and real—and something I have to acknowledge—I’m choosing to make plans for regular video talks with this dear part of my family. I’ve ordered a recordable book so my husband and I can record our own voices reading the story and our precious little one won’t forget us.
We’re also making plans for our first visit. Finding hope.
Disappointments are God’s way of saying, ‘I’ve got something better for you.’
Be Patient. Live Life. Have Faith.
Adjusting to Disappointment and Moving On
I’ve found there are several ways to ease the pain of disappointment and move through it with more ease and grace.
Acknowledge the disappointment.
Accepting the situation is the first step to moving beyond it. It is what it is, and we can’t change what is in the past. This acceptance may take some time, and you may want to wallow in it for a bit. But, staying in the grips of that will only hold you back. I love this analogy and choice: do you want to keep looking in the rear view mirror (wallowing) or would you rather look through the windshield and consider the possibilities that lie ahead after the disappointment?
Feel the emotions that come up. Don’t avoid them.
The emotions will be there, no doubt. Sadness, regret, grief, anger, betrayal, heartbreak—they all may be tangled up in the disappointment. Trying to hurdle over those emotions, or maneuver around them, will not help you in the long run because you’re avoiding the inevitable. Working through them will help you understand better how you react to disappointment. With that wisdom, you can choose how you would rather behave the next time your expectations are not met.
Be gentle with yourself as you move through the emotional stuff.
Give yourself a break. Literally and figuratively. Put some distance between you and the situation that disappointed you, so you can see more clearly the options ahead. That distance could be time or physical distance. Then, breathe in that space. Take care of yourself while you are working through how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.
Determine what is within your control to change and what is not.
Finding hope after disappointment has a lot to do with recognizing what is within your control to change. Making choices from that perspective gives you the power to move forward, so you can heal the wounds and find the good in the new situation. Disappointments are not meant to destroy you; they are meant to strengthen you.
Adjust your expectations.
Think about what you were expecting to be different in the situation. Were your expectations unrealistic? Was there anything about that situation that you could have changed? Did you set yourself up for disappointment because of your expectations? Adjusting your expectations moving forward can help to mitigate the feelings that come with disappointment. When you have no expectations, you will not be disappointed. Can you adjust your expectations?
Look for the hope.
This is a choice. Look through the windshield for new possibilities. Find the silver lining. Change your perspective. Ask yourself this question: What if it was my idea? Would you feel differently? What actions would you take if it was in your control—if it was your idea? Allow new situations to unfold that may not have happened otherwise.
Whatever you decide, don’t let it be because you don’t think you have a choice.
Finding hope after disappointment is a choice. Make the choice that feels better to you, rather than wallowing in the sadness. Moving forward from that place of choice, one step at a time, is the best way to move through disappointment.
María Tomás-Keegan is a certified Career and Life Coach for Women, and founder of Transition & Thrive with María. When life events flip the world upside down and cause disappointment, she guides women to turn chaos into calm and find the hope, so they can clear their heads, step into their power and live life on their own terms. If you’re ready to explore new possibilities with an open heart, get 5 Simple Choices to Get You Back on Track now.