Strategies for Dealing with Disappointment

Disappointment is tough. I know because I experience it frequently as a writer and speaker always putting myself out there. It’s part of the job for me, and even though I’m pretty good at letting it go and moving on, I still need to consciously get myself through when the disappointing news first comes up.

How about you? Maybe your crush didn’t like you back. Maybe you didn’t get the grade you wanted on your midterm. Or maybe, through no fault of your own, your summer vacation just didn’t go as you planned.

Whatever your circumstance, disappointment is something we all feel from time to time.

* Sometimes we’re disappointed in ourselves: we didn’t get the right grade…we didn’t get into the right college…we didn’t score the winning goal.

* Other times we’re disappointed in others: our best friend shares a trusted secret with someone else…our mom reads our journal…our father doesn’t get off work in time for our graduation ceremony.

* And then there are the times we’re disappointed in the world: things just don’t work out the way we think they should.

And while it’s normal to feel disappointed from time to time, lingering in that feeling can be seriously disempowering, making us feel blue, blah, betrayed and bothered. And when we’re focusing on these negative feelings, it’s all-too-easy to let the emotions behind them seep into other areas of our life.

The good news is, there are some simple tools for handling disappoinment that can nip those feelings in the bud. Here are a few tricks that every smart girl needs to know:

  • Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself: Disappointment is often the result of having unrealistic expecations. And while I would never discourage anyone from dreaming big, remember that goals are something to strive for, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t reach every goal exactly as you planned. Instead, try setting goals to do your best and be true to yourself in your quest for success.
  • Don’t place expectations on others: If you take away one thing from this affirmation, let it be this – the only person whose behavior and actions you can control is yourself. While it’s okay to find someone else’s actions disappointing, don’t give that feeling too much power. Often times, what other people do or don’t do has nothing to do with us…it’s about them.
  • Give yourself a break: Hey…even when our goals are realistic and we’ve done all the hard work to ensure the outcome we want, sometimes life throws a curve ball and things don’t work out as planned. When this happens, why not be nice to yourself and tell yourself the same kind of supportive things you’d tell a friend in a same predicament?
  • Avoid using the word “should”: Have you ever said something like, “this should have happened” or “she should have called me” or “I should have done better”? Then I ask you this…what good does “should” do? Since we can’t change the past, then throwing the word “should” around is really a waste of energy. Why not focus on what might happen differently the next time?
  • Don’t “awfulize”: If you say things like “it’s awful” or “I can’t stand it” or “it’s the end of the world for me!” then what you’re really doing is magnifying your disappointment. Words are powerful things, and what we tell ourselves has a bigger impact on our feelings and emotions than anything else. The truth is, you can stand it. And while you may not like it, the disappointment you’re experiencing is not the end of the world. Try putting things in perspective and see how your emotions change for the better.

* * * * *

How do you handle disappointment? If you’ve got some tips to share with other smart girls, leave a comment!

* * * * *


  1. New Moon Girls Said,

    June 29, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

    All of this advice is great, especially for young people who often get rather overdramatic about situations they face. On the New Moon Girls website, we have several message boards where girls 8-15 can vent about their disappointments as well as their successes. The tips you offer in this post are very similar to what we see shared by girls on our site. Feel free to check out some preteen advice at, under our Voices or Features sections!

  2. dreber Said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 11:44 am

    Thanks for the link to your message boards…these are fantastic resources for girls!

Leave a Comment