Well I must admit I had a little cry on Saturday afternoon when I heard the news that Christmas 2020 is not going to be quite the one we had imagined. For so many people this time of year is associated with human connectivity and bringing loved ones together.
I have also spoken to so many people recently who have been hanging their hopes on Christmas as something to really look forward to and keep them going through these strange and difficult times.
Whilst hope on the horizon is a great personal motivator it’s also well worth adopting a flexible mindset in this volatile and unpredictable world that we live in. When we hope for something, we invariably attach a certain amount of expectation to the outcome. So, when we brew up a cauldron of expectation and the outcome doesn’t live up to what we had anticipated, we become disappointed.
Disappointment is one of life’s most uncomfortable feelings and it can be a complex emotion triggering a whole subset of other emotions like sadness, hurt and even anger. Disappointment can bring with it a grey perspective of life and niggle our minds and cast a shadow. In a way the emotion of disappointment is akin to grief because it comes with finality and a sense of loss. It forces us to admit that we don’t have, didn’t get, or may never achieve what we wanted to.
Whilst we may vacillate between feelings of sadness and regret, it can potentially make us feel angry, because, in an obstinate way, anger will allow us to continue idealising about what could have been. Getting to the point of accepting that not everything will always go the way we want it to will be useful in terms of helping us to move on. It’s also important not to become negative about having hopes and aspirations, however, being open minded and flexible and not getting overly attached to the outcome is a helpful approach.
So how do we deal with disappointment?
Tip one – Experience the emotion
In a world where everything is about trying to speed up the process, sometimes we don’t always allow ourselves the time to just stop and experience the emotion. Feelings of guilt attached to shedding a tear or being self-indulgent can create a sense of obligation to ‘just get over it’. Fighting and suppressing negative emotion is unhelpful, no matter how painful, it is better to be present with the emotion so that you can process it in the most constructive way and then move on to more positive ways of viewing the situation.
Tip two – Put it into perspective
Perspective is a wonderful thing and very often we don’t allow ourselves the time and space to step away from our situation so we can get a more balanced viewpoint. Writing down exactly what you expected and what exactly you feel disappointed about can help you to articulate and untangle some of the niggles in your mind. Talking to someone you trust and who you can be totally honest with can also help with gaining a better perspective. It’s good to be able to get things off your chest so that you can then constructively move on.
Tip three – Be open minded and open hearted
Essentially, we can choose how we respond to disappointment. Allowing feelings of negativity and bitterness to bubble away and choosing to wallow in a pool of upset and frustration simply isn’t a good use of energy. Accepting changes that we can do nothing about will help us to use our precious energy to fuel positive emotions and influence things that are in our control.
Tip four – Practise gratitude
Gratitude is one of the most powerful and healing emotions that we can all experience. By focusing our minds on all the things, we have and that we are grateful for can help us to stop dwelling on all the things we don’t have or are disappointed about. When you start to become consumed with feelings of disappointment focus your mind to think about three things in your life right know that you are truly grateful for.
Counting our blessings in times of strife is a much more constructive approach to life
When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.
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