Personal Development
How to Deal With Disappointment: 5 Ways to Get Over it

How to Deal With Disappointment: 5 Ways to Get Over it

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Dealing With Disappointment

We all know the feeling of disappointment when things don't go the way we planned. We can define disappointment as feeling unhappy because someone or something was not as good as we hoped or expected. Robert Plutchik added two more emotions to make his �Wheel of Emotions� theory, consisting of eight essential emotions arranged in opposites: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Anticipation. This theory explains how human emotions can range from merely feeling a certain emotion to experiencing more complex states like annoyance, boredom, and admiration.

What is Disappointment?

Disappointment is an emotional response that arises from sadness. There are three primary causes of disappointment: the 'arrival fallacy', false expectations, and childhood experiences. The former occurs when we focus too heavily on achieving our goals and miss the journey along the way; while the latter two result from unfavorable comparisons or traumatic events experienced in childhood.

Learning to Manage Disappointment

If you want to be successful, learning to manage disappointment is crucial � it will influence how you respond to life's various challenges. Here are five tips for how to effectively handle disappointments:

  • Allow yourself to fully feel the emotion
  • Gain an outsider's perspective
  • Be familiar with your core values
  • Extend self-acceptance
  • Don't let it linger

1. Allow Yourself to Fully Feel the Emotion

Emotional suppression hampers personal growth and adaptation, so it's important to let out your frustration. Find a confidant, such as a family member, friend, or therapist, and express your feelings. Or, find an outlet for creative expression, such as running or writing in a journal.

2. Gain an Outsider's Perspective

It's easy to think of a disappointment as the end of the world, but talking to someone who isn't directly involved with the situation can allow for a more objective view. Additionally, it's helpful to take a break from the challenge and focus on the things that bring joy, such as meaningful relationships or hobbies.

3. Be Familiar with Your Core Values

When a series of disappointments occur, it's easy to doubt yourself. That's why it's essential to know your personal values and to not lose sight of them. This way, you won't be thrown off course and can pick yourself up and try again without sacrificing your self-esteem.

4. Extend Self-Acceptance

In addition to understanding your values, it's important to be kind to yourself and practice self-love. Positive self-talk and living in the present moment are key for preserving awareness and appreciation for yourself.

5. Don't Let It Linger

Finally, don't let disappointment fester or amplify into anxiety, resentment, or negative thinking. It's ok to allow yourself to process the situation and its surrounding emotions, but you must eventually move on.


Disappointment isn't a pleasant emotion, but it can be used as a valuable data point to make better decisions in the future. If managed adequately, it can be a springboard for growth and transformation.

Navigating the Valley of Disappointment

James Clear has coined the term "The Valley of Disappointment" to describe the seemingly treacherous journey that comes with attempting to achieve any goal. Disappointment is a normal part of life, but understanding how to manage it can be the key towards becoming stronger and more resilient.

What Does Disappointment Tell Us?

Feeling disappointed can be frustrating, but it can also tell us three important things:

  • We are passionate about what we are trying to achieve,
  • It is a chance for personal growth, and
  • It can make us stronger.

Though disappointments can be traced back to childhood trauma, which can be debilitating and make us hesitant to try new things, taking the right kind of steps can help us move past it.

The Benefits of Adversity

Researchers have found that the positive effects of adversity include better mental fortitude, improved emotional intelligence, sharper thinking, and a stronger stance against negative thinking. They agree that having a better understanding of how to deal with disappointments is essential to personal development.

When to Seek Professional Help for Disappointment

Though disappointment is a regular part of life, it is important to know when to seek professional help. Some clues that it might be beneficial to seek help are emotional volatility, difficulty focusing on anything other than disappointment, decrease in productivity, strained relationships, lack of motivation, sleeping and eating pattern disruptions, physical health issues, and feeling despondent.

How to Seek Help

If you have noticed any of the above indicators, then it is time to decide how to seek help. Asking friends and family for referrals can be helpful, or you can look up recommendations online if you wish to keep the matter private. A mental health professional will be able to talk you through your feelings and provide strategies to manage and cope with disappointment.

Moving On From Disappointment

At Shiken, we use the power of a growth mindset to build resilience and lead to personal and professional development. Disappointment is completely natural, and by using it the right way and remaining steadfast, you can reach a breakthrough.

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