Disappointment is the feeling we get when an expectation that we have isn’t met. It is an emotional signal, a messenger, telling us that something is out of balance in our lives—what we want doesn’t reflect our reality.
If we take the time to analyze feelings of disappointment, we will notice they are attached to three other signals: behaviors, bodily sensations, and perspective. This means that we don’t just feel disappointment as an emotion; it can also impact how we feel physically, how we act, and our perception of ourselves and the world around us.
The key to managing feelings of disappointment is going beyond awareness and learning how to make our feelings work for us instead of against us. Disappointment can quickly become toxic if we immerse ourselves in it for too long, which is why it is so important to learn how to manage our minds. Disappointment tends to breed more and more disappointment, and before we know it, we may develop a “disappointing mindset” that becomes our outlook on life. Remember, whatever we think about the most grows!
By seeing disappointment as a messenger, a way of gathering data about what is going on in our lives, we can actually make life easier and become more resilient. In fact, the decisions we make after we experience a major disappointment can transform the eventual outcome(s) and help us make better decisions. By putting our disappointment in perspective and learning from it, we can reconceptualize what happened (think about it in a different way), thereby gaining a new perspective that enhances our creativity and develops our intelligence as we learn over time to have a more diverse range of expectations. Disappointment provides an opportunity for growth!
We can learn to manage disappointment in the moment by embracing, processing and reconceptualizing what has happened to us, which is known as mind management or self-regulation. To do this, I recommend using the mind management technique I have researched, developed and applied clinically over the past three decades, which is called the Neurocycle. (I discuss this in depth in my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle.) The kind of self-regulation that is achieved using the Neurocycle is a great way to deal with the root of the toxic generational cycles in your life, reconceptualizing them and how they impact your genetic expression. It is done in 5 steps:
- Gather awareness of what you are feeling emotionally and physically as you work on a toxic cycle in your life.
- Reflect on why you feel the way you do—be as specific as possible.
- Write this down—this is way to help organize your thinking and gain clarity.
- Recheck what you have written. Look for patterns in your work life, your relationships, your responses, your attitudes and so on.
- Take action. I call this step an “active reach”. It is essentially an action you take to reinforce the new, reconceptualized pattern of thinking you want in your life (which is replacing the old, toxic cycle).
In terms of managing disappointment, the 5 steps could be:
- Gathering awareness of your disappointment. This means embracing the aforementioned signals, including how you feel emotionally and physically.
- Processing how your disappointment is affecting you by describing what you are disappointed about in as much detail as possible, reflecting on the “why” and writing all this down to help organize and clarify your thinking.
- Reconceptualizing how your disappointment is affecting you by looking at what you have written down and thinking deeply about it. This will help you gain perspective, allowing you to better to see things for what they really are instead of getting stuck in the highly emotional state of disappointment. This, in turn, will help you find ways to practice thinking about your feelings of disappointment in new ways, which will build a new mindset that will make you more resilient to depression in the future.
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