Resilient Through Disappointment

“In times of disappointment allow yourself space to fall apart. When you’re ready; get up, dust off and look forward. That’s real winning” 

Disappointment is the negative emotion, the sense of sadness and displeasure, that arises when we don’t fulfil our expectations or, meet our hopes. All of us, no matter our circumstances or personality, experience disappointments over the course of our lives.

Although the specific details or causes of our disappointment may differ, setbacks and disappointment are part of the human experience. It’s something we all have in common.

At this point, it must be said that our personality does have a big influence on the extent to which we feel disappointment. Neuroticism is a measure of the extent to which an individual experiences negative emotion. Some people are more neurotic than others and they will be hit hard by feelings of disappointment, whilst those who are less neurotic generally experience disappointment as a minor bump in the road. If you’re interested in learning more about neuroticism, and general personality, search for the Five-Factor Model or Big 5 which is sometimes known by the acronym OCEAN.

Although we don’t have much control over ingrained aspects of our personality, like neuroticism, we do have control over the way we respond to disappointments.

This is the primary message I want to share with you in this article: It’s OK to let yourself fall apart, at least for a while. Another way of putting this is wallowing.

Although our culture has traditionally told us to avoid indulging in self-pity or feeling sorry for ourselves, wallowing does serve a purpose. Wallowing is about processing the emotions that come with disappointment. Instead of repressing these negative emotions, wallowing allows us the time to really feel the emotions in their entirety. Feeling the emotion and attempting to process the situation allows you to gradually rationalise what you’ve been through. This is key to building up resilience.

There’s no right or wrong way to wallow. Obviously, you want to avoid spiralling into increasingly negative thought patterns straight away. My advice is to first try and take your mind off the disappointment you’re feeling. Get stuck into something that’s absorbing; what about a challenging physical activity that takes you out of your mind and into your body; reading a good novel or watching an epic film with plenty of visual stimulation or simply cooking or ordering your favourite meal. However, you choose to wallow, begin by treating yourself and trying to bring a sense of calm. Then you can begin the harder work of processing the disappointment you’re feeling.

Remember this next time you’re hit by disappointment…wallow contains the word allow.

Stay positive and take care of yourself. I’ll speak with you soon.


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Mans head down to illustrate disappointment