Cheer Up Buttercup! The Surprising Benefits of Coping with Disappointment

Dealing with Disappointment and Letting Things Go!

Cheer up buttercup! Congratulations, you are among the land of the living.  Yes, I know you’re experiencing the complex emotion known as a disappointment.  

We all have had the experience of being disenchanted, disillusioned, frustrated, and unfulfilled when something crushes our hopes, ruins our day, or otherwise results in disappointing expectations.  It’s one thing when someone disappoints us but disappointment is even more painful when we find ourselves on the other end being even more frustrated.

Who hasn’t had the experience of being let down or the feeling we get when something we thought we deserved didn’t happen.  May I suggest to you that we ‘need’ this complex emotion to both survive and grow!

But did you know that despite all that you’re feeling, that there are benefits, albeit surprising, of going thru this life experience?

Before detailing these benefits, let’s first address what disappointment really is. 

Photo of a sign saying Engagement Valley

What Causes Disappointment?

Per Psychology Today, in their June 15, 2018 article entitled, “8 Ways to Bounce Back After a Disappointment, disappointment is what we feel when our expectations for a desired outcome are dashed.

There are two easily identifiable reasons for disappointment.  The most common is known as “arrival fallacy”.

Arrival fallacy is defined as disappointment which occurs when we’re so focused on attaining our goals, that we forgo the process.  We find ourselves over-extending ourselves, living each day less than fulfilled. We secretly tell ourselves, that ‘when we arrive’, then by reaching our goal it makes our struggle worthwhile.  

What ends up happening is once we ‘arrived’, our achievement ends up being unfulfilling and disappointment sets in.  This is caused by our internal misalignment of expectations.

Another cause of disappointment comes from expectations we place upon ourselves based on external factors.

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And when our expectations are initially set unrealistically, then due to circumstance, we find ourselves not wanting to accept what happened.  Taken further, if you’re known to be a ‘high achiever’, with even higher expectations, then intense disappointment can set in.

Furthermore, this type of disappointing experience can quickly turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy unless you learn how to deal with disappointment in a positive manner.  You must learn how to embrace and navigate your way through these feelings if you wish to maintain your overall happiness and well-being.

Disappointment Illustration

So… is Disappointment Good For Us?

The short answer?  Yes.  But do know that in the moment of feeling our disappointment, it feels far from being positive.  However, that said, the actions you ‘do take’ after you experience disappointment can truly transform the eventual outcome and help you make better decisions for the future.

Disappointment strengthens our resilience.  We may feel weakened in the moment, but if we forge ahead and try again instead of retreating into our fears, those disappointments can actually enable us to achieve great things in the future.”

The Valley of Disappointment!

If we take a more logical approach in examining our feelings of disappointment, we would quickly realize that disappointment is less useful as an emotion but instead can be far more useful as a point of reference.

In other words, experiencing disappointment may be telling us instead that something is ‘off’ or ‘out of balance’. This in turn becomes more a result of the circumstance, the process of, or our expectations.  
The following illustration is known as the “Valley of Disappointment’ taken from visionary, James Clear of ‘’Atomic Habits’:

Valley of Disappointment Illustration

Per James Clear, it’s time to look for a different way. And the best place to do that is the place known as  “The Valley of Disappointment.”  James Clear insists that If you persist with your actions in this valley, you can reach a breakthrough.

Here’s how it works:

  • We set a goal or outcome we desire.
  • We overestimate the good things that might happen when we first start a task leading to the realization of this goal.
  • Simultaneously, we underestimate the “negative” things that might also happen.
  • This is why the first part of any goal feels so treacherous — you’re living in the valley of disappointment.
  • But if we keep our expectations steady through time, the same things that disappointed us end up leading to a breakthrough.
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THREE SURPRISING BENEFITS OF EXPERIENCING DISAPPOINTMENT

Just give it enough time, and you’ll see — disappointment may be the most important thing we need in reaching our goals.  Read and reflect on these three surprising benefits that disappointment provides.

1. It means you’re passionate about something.

Feel good about yourself that you were courageous and brave enough to take on a goal or live your dream.  When you have a feeling of disappointment along the way then use this as mental fortitude to forge forward and push onward to your breakthrough.

2. It’s an opportunity for growth.

Make no mistake that you can definitely ‘grow’ through disappointments, as long as you pick yourself back up, move forward, and continue.  As a result, you can use your experience to re-evaluate strategies and reset more realistic expectations.

3. It can make you stronger.

Disappointment can also make you stronger and more resilient by overcoming adversity.  

All three of these are powerful benefits that disappointment provides to us if we are willing to ‘open our eyes’ and employ this sage advice.

Illustration showing 8 Steps to Follow to successfully deal with disappointment

8 Steps to Successfully Deal with Disappointment

Okay, do you feel a little bit better now that you have discovered these three powerful benefits of experiencing disappointment?  Let’s move forward and now focus on effective steps to successfully deal with this disillusionment or disenchantment.

Per Melanie Greenberg Ph.D. in her article she wrote for Psychology Today entitled, “8 Ways to Bounce Back After a Disappointment”, she summarizes these 8 steps:

  1. Face the truth of the situation. …
  2. Allow yourself to mourn lost dreams. …
  3. Don’t get stuck feeling like a victim. …
  4. Check if your expectations are realistic. …
  5. Be kind to yourself. …
  6. Look for the silver lining. …
  7. Be willing to try a different approach. …
  8. Find your grit.

It’s not only important, but it is vital that you learn how to process your feelings, reflect on your experiences and develop new goals that will help you move forward and as they say ‘bounce back’.  

By doing so, you shall achieve both balance and well-being in your life.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1) What emotion is disappointment?

Disappointment is a complex emotion and is often described as a ‘form of sadness’ or as an emotional feeling of loss and/or being defeated, i.e., things didn’t turn out as you expected.  Unfortunately, many of us set ourselves up for disappointment when we tell ourselves and believe that there’s something we have to have or achieve in order to be fulfilled and happy.

2) What happens when experiencing chronic disappointment in ourselves?

Being disappointed often includes feelings of being angry with ourselves.  Disappointment increases our risk of physical and emotional difficulties such as headaches, stomach problems, and over-perspiration. It can often lead to chronic stress if we’re very disappointed for long periods of time.

3) How to deal with our own self-disappointment?

The first thing we need to do is self-acceptance of the situation, then re-evaluate any life lessons this disappointment has told us.  But the best thing you can do is practice self-care.  You’re only human.  Put it behind you.  Remember, tomorrow is always a new opportunity to move beyond what took place in the past.

4) How do you get over someone disappointing you?

* Being rejected, let down, or betrayed can easily trigger feelings of sadness, anxiety, or even anger.  It is healthy to allow yourself to feel these feelings. No need to apologize. Just feel it and then move on.
* Be forgiving, but communicate to them your disappointment.
* Setting boundaries will help minimize the future extent of potential disappointment.
* Examine your expectations for them.  Were they unrealistic or unattainable?  Recognize if it is something beyond your or their control. 

5) How do I get motivated after disappointment?

Once you have acknowledged and accepted how frustrated you may be, its time to remind yourself of these 3 benefits:
* It means you’re passionate about what you’re doing.
* Recognize that it becomes a new opportunity to do better.
* It makes you stronger and more resilient when facing adversity.

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Cheer Up Buttercup! The Surprising Benefits of Coping with Disappointment

About the author

beth elkassih

“Hi! Welcome to the launching and introduction to ‘Made You Smile Back’! I’m so pleased you’re here. Let me share with you a little bit about myself and why I created this platform.”

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Comments

7 comments on “Cheer Up Buttercup! The Surprising Benefits of Coping with Disappointment”

  1. As a trader I have trained myself to look at disappointment as part of the cost of doing business. Risk/Reward is managed at 3:1 where disappointment is represented by the 1 and happiness by the 3.
    As a human I have come to accept it as part of life. If it was beyond my control, I shrug it off. If it is simply the result of imperfection it’s a little harder to take, mentally, but still manageable.
    It’s a stimulus, and we have the ability to pause before taking action, hopefully leading to the best possible action. That’s what sets us apart.

  2. Expectations always led me to being disappointed. So really, it was always about me. Being humble and looking for the positive keeps me in reality. Not to say, I don’t have expectations. It’s like…’planning for not planning on.’ Great Article. Cheer up Buttercup was the perfect title.

  3. Expectations always led me to being disappointed. So really, it was always about me. Being humble and looking for the positive keeps in reality. Not to say, I don’t have expectations. It’s like…’planning for not planning on.’ Great Article. Cheer up Buttercup was the perfect title.

  4. Great post! I recently had a personal situation which really, really, knocked me down, disappointed me. I was crushed. It took about 24 hours to realize there wasn’t anyone to blame, and it was my expectations that was the problem. It has made me shift my way of thinking about some things, and realize that I’m not the same as everyone else in my family who have kids, and now grandkids. My place in the family and how I handle things is going to be different from the rest of them… and that’s OK.

    It was an ah-ha moment.

  5. I Love it. It gave me a new perspective about disappointment and how I can use it as a stepping stone to get better and stronger. I gather feel disappointed is ok, just don’t stay there , learn the lesson, analize what work and what did not and start from therein a new way. Also, when others disappoint you , let them know they disappointed you, forgive, set boundaries, change your expectation of them and let go. Again I love this .

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