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Ways Emotionally Intelligent People Can Overcome Disappointment

Susy WulfMarch 17, 20227 mins read

It can be difficult to cope with disappointment because each day brings new circumstances to be disappointed. Sometimes, disappointments can come quickly (the proverbial “when the rains it pours”) Sometimes, disappointments can be life-changing and truly devastating. There are also those that make you cringe, are annoying or just plain boring. Moreover, the difficult times in the world can increase our stress levels and cause us to react more strongly to news. Experts were asked to share their secrets for coping with the frustrations and disappointments that can be part of everyday life.

1. Allow yourself to…wallow. Allow yourself to be shocked by the disappointment and not panic. You will find your calm easier. Tina Gilbertson LPC, DCC is a psychotherapist who wrote Constructive Waking: How to Beat Bad Feelings By letting Yourself Have Them. You can also find a word to describe how you feel like, such as angry, sad, or scared. The ability to label feelings can help us understand our experiences. Allow the disappointment to wash over you. Be honest with yourself and your feelings. She adds that “Experiencing your emotions will allow you make a calm decision about what to next.”

2. Reality check: Is it really so bad? Take a step back after feeling the first disappointments. This can seem like the worst thing that could happen, but humans are known to dramatize. Psychotherapist Sarah Mandel R.N., L.C.S.W. says that while feelings are valid and important to acknowledge, thoughts can be misleading. She advises that after the initial upset passes, it is important to be able to see your problems objectively to separate fact and fiction, and to reduce negative self-talk.

3. When you are dealt low blows, go high. Tricia Andor MA, LPC, says that although we can’t choose how disappointed we feel about certain situations, we do have many options regarding how to respond to disappointment. “We have the power to choose what we say and how we think about any situation. It’s important not to let disappointment turn into anger, resentment or jealousy.

4. Don’t stew in negativity. As with all emotions, disappointment comes in a range, according to licensed counselor Monte Drenner, LMHC and CAP. He says that the key to dealing with disappointment is not allowing it to grow into more negative emotions, such as discouragement or depression. “The more I dwell in my disappointment, the more likely it is that I will become discouraged. This makes it even harder to overcome. Depressed feelings are more likely to develop the longer I stay discouraged. You can turn the tables on your disappointment and find ways to learn from it. He says that it is possible to turn a negative emotion into a positive emotion such as determination.

5. Reduce stress to avoid anxious reactions. You can find a sweet spot to calm your anxiety by walking, meditating or listening to music. Stress and anxiety can increase your sensitivity and lead to more agitation. “Stress is a continuum that ranges from zero (no stress at any) to 10 (10 (the most stressed you’ve ever been),” Elizabeth R. Lombardo MS, PT, author, Better than Perfect: 7 Strategies for Crushing Your Inner Critic and Creating a Life You Love. A seven- or more out of ten score means that we have a tendency to “negative filter” – focus almost exclusively on the negatives and catastrophize. You can find things that will keep you calm so you don’t feel like it’s the end of the universe every time you are disappointed.

6. Keep things in perspective. Sam Weinman, a sports journalist and author of Win at Losing, How Our Biggest Setbacks can Lead to Our Greatest Gains has spoken with many public figures about their disappointments. Weinman says that Dr. Jim Loehr, a psychologist, talks about “framing” events in our lives in constructive ways. His point is that what we interpret of what happens is often more important than what actually happens. Loehr believes that in every disappointment, we should find something that we can use or at least that allows us to see the positives. We can better process disappointment if we learn how to frame it in a constructive, positive and honest way.

7. Don’t take the opinions and reactions of others too seriously. Different points of view do not constitute insults in and of themselves. Jill Whitney, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist, says that some people feel attacked when someone disagrees or suggests they have done something wrong. “Wise people recognize that everyone has a different perspective and that’s fine. While not everyone we interact with in life and social media is wise we can all learn to be secure in our own views so that we don’t get rattled by others. We can also be more open to other views. She said, “Be open to new ideas” and “be open to facts.” “Don’t feel pressured to be perfect all the time. It’s important to admit our mistakes and offer an apology when necessary.

8. Don’t let others down by letting them vent their frustrations. It is important to share and be heard, but it is also important not to make too much of the things that go wrong. Whitney says, “You might know someone who views everything as an insult.” He believes that the other driver deliberately cut him off, that his boss has it in him, and that his spouse forgot milk because she’s passive-aggressive, or because she doesn’t care about him. She says that people who place a negative spin on things often spread negativity on those around them. You may need to cut down on contacts or let the negative news pass. This is especially important when you are trying to deal with your own disappointments.

9. Write down the reasons for your distress. This will help you get rid of it. Diana Raab PhD, creativity expert, author of Healing with Words, and Writing for Bliss, says that writing can help you cope with disappointment. Journaling is a great way to begin because it allows you to express your feelings and concerns about your disappointment in an open, non-threatening manner. Journals are non-judgmental, and they will listen. She encourages you to write freely, without lifting your pen from the paper, until all the words come out. Writing can be a wonderful way to learn, grow and transform from your disappointments. Writing can be used to release pain, and also to help us build strength.

10. Positive thinking is key. If we become too focused on the negative, we lose sight of the good in our lives and the world around. Our brains are wired to see the negative aspects of our lives. Louise Aspden, an expert in positive thinking and emotional intelligence, says that it is part of our self-preservation. This wiring is outdated and doesn’t work in modern times when we are bombarded with negativity at all turns. She says that our brains are also neoplastic. This means we can rewire them so they see the good in the world. Resetting your mind can be as simple as a gratitude list that includes 10-20 items each day. You can list everything, from the new job to your morning cup of coffee. This will help you to see how you react to any negative changes.

11. Breathe to clear your mind. Aspden says that the emotional center of our brain can interfere with our ability to think clearly in stressful situations. She says that stress hormones can be sent through the system and increase heart rate and blood circulation. This can make it easier to ‘fight or fight’ and narrow your thinking process. The simple act of taking deep, slow breaths can help to dissipate stress hormone cortisol by oxygenating blood and getting you back into thinking mode. You can increase your feelings of well-being and peace by breathing. It is possible to reduce or even eliminate the negative effects of disappointments. If the burden seems too much to bear, you can reach out to a friend or professional for support.

Susy Wulf
author

Susy Wulf is a journalist, copywriter, editor and journalist. She has a BA degree in English from Monmouth University, and a MA in Global Communications (American University of Paris).

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