It is impossible to navigate life and remain free from disappointment. Researchers describe disappointment as a form of sadness or a feeling of loss. It is often experienced as an uncomfortable and sometimes painful space between our expectations and reality.
Our experiences of disappointment provide valuable information about ourselves, other people, and our values. After we have had time to process a disappointment and fully express our feelings, it is possible to find a space for self-exploration and growth.
Social norms suggest that certain things will make us happy. Yet, research suggests that many of the common things people work towards such as a nice house, new job, expensive car, or job title do very little to support lasting happiness or satisfaction. In contrast, developing greater self-awareness and a deeper connection to our values and a sense of meaning or purpose, as well as our active pursuit of these values and purpose, provides the best avenue for a lasting sense of happiness or satisfaction.
How often have you reflected on the influence of society or social norms on your goals and ideas for what will make you happy? Where do your goals come from?
Disappointment also provides a pause for us to evaluate our relationship to grasping and expectations.
What beliefs do you have about what you need or what you should obtain? Where did these beliefs come from? Who else in your past or current life holds similar beliefs?
Lastly, acceptance is often viewed as a means of coping with disappointment. After we determine that nothing can be done to change the circumstances, acceptance is often our best option for positive coping as well as healing and growth. How can you work towards acceptance when faced with disappointment? What can you learn from others in your life about how to practice acceptance?
Generally, acceptance can be practiced in all areas of life. We can practice acceptance of our experience, differing beliefs and views of others, difficult family or friends, our past, our appearance, as well as our thoughts and emotions. Acceptance does not mean that you endorse whatever is happening or move away from your own values and beliefs, rather it means you are accepting that you cannot change the current nature of reality, which also sometimes means moving through a grief process to arrive at a place of acceptance.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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