It’s ironic that the same month we chose ‘dealing with disappointment’ as our topic focus, also turned out to be the same month that our country Malaysia, was hit hard with the current Covid-19 outbreak. Many plans had to be postponed, changed, or cancelled entirely. Business plans, meetings, holidays, air flights, even school – especially when the news of the Movement Restriction Order came out.

As I write this, I am thinking of all the individuals and businesses who are struggling to make ends meet in this tough time. I am also thinking of all the families who are having to get along with each other, void of personal space in the home for more than three days and having to cope with the stress of all the bad news, life changes, and each other’s personal tendencies to react to the situation. It’s not all doom and gloom for everyone of course, but I do know some people are really struggling. “Disappointment” seems like a mild term to use in this context.

Still, many of the coping mechanisms for disappointment are useful in this time. Especially when self-isolation and social distancing feels tough. We found these 11 tips from therapist, life coaches, and various authors to be just the thing to keep in mind as we all try to get along together. I also added a few personal thoughts in the second paragraph for each point.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

1. Take a moment to… wallow.

You may find your sense of calm more easily if you allow yourself to go through the initial shock of disappointment. “When you get bad news, take a moment to let it sink in,” says Tina Gilbertson, LPC, DCC, psychotherapist and author of Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them. “Also, find a word for how you feel, such as disappointed, resentful, or afraid. Labeling feelings helps us make sense of our experience.” Let the waves of disappointment wash over you, speak out loud (if only to yourself), and honor your emotions. “Experiencing your feelings will allow you to make a cool-headed decision about what to do next,” she adds.

There’s a lot of noise on social media and Whatsapp group chats right now. It’s important we take time to shut off for awhile and give ourselves time to process our thoughts and feelings about the current Covid-19 situation. When we face overwhelming situations, the truth is we actually DO have the capacity to overcome whatever comes our way. We just need to accept our reality, and then tap into that inner strength we already have. Then, we can take on the next step with renewed confidence. Sometimes that inner strength needs to be sparked by good friends who remind us that we have what it takes to champion on.

2. Do a reality check—is it really that bad? 

After feeling the first blows of disappointment, step back and assess. It can seem like the biggest, most horrible thing that could possibly happen—but humans tend to dramatize, too. “Feelings are real and are important to recognize, but thoughts are not always the truth,” says Psychotherapist Sarah Mandel, R.N., L.C.S.W. When the initial upset is over, she says, “Try to look objectively at your problems to help separate fact from fiction and reduce negative self-talk.”

After complaining so much about how inconvenient this whole Covid-19 thing was for our travel and career plans and daily life, my husband and I soon began to realise that we actually had so much to be thankful for. It was really heartbreaking to read news about certain companies who had to ask their staff to take a few months of unpaid leave or how some people would eventually lose their jobs and businesses in the light of all that’s happening. Suddenly, our “problems” seemed so trivial in comparison. We realised that the little we have, was A LOT to others. It helped us to get over ourselves and start thinking about others instead.

Also Read: Appreciating the Present Moment.

3. Go high when hit with a low blow. 

“Though we don’t get to choose the situations about which we feel disappointed, we have a lot of choice regarding how we respond to disappointment,” says Tricia Andor, MA, LPC. “We can choose what we do, say, and think about any given situation.” She says it’s important to head disappointment up at the pass before things turn to into irritation, anger, resentment, jealousy, or bitterness.

This couldn’t be more real at the present time. When we can’t change our situation, we can change ourselves. Having a global pandemic AND being cooped up at home under strict government orders is a situation that won’t disappear overnight. So instead of feeling helpless, overwhelmed, or frustrated, lets find better ways of responding to people. With extra kindness, extra patience, and extra compassion. We are all in this together.

4. Don’t stew in negativity.

Like any other emotion, disappointment has a spectrum, says licensed counsellor and life coach, Monte Drenner, LMHC, CAP. “The secret to dealing with disappointment is to not let it grow into stronger emotions like discouragement and depression,” he says. “Turn this negative emotion into a positive emotion like determination, because is it a way to restore peace of mind.”

Yes. Be determined to make the best out of this situation at home. To bond well with your spouse and kids. To be better at time management when working from home. To find a solution for your business if its being badly affected at this present time. Be determined to survive. Be determined to really LIVE and thrive through challenging times. Make that your story.

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

5. Avoid anxious reactions by lowering stress. 

Find a sweet spot for fast anxiety relief, such as meditating, walking, listening to music, taking a long baths or watching a comedy. Your general state of stress and anxiety can add an extra layer of sensitivity and make you more prone to agitation. Find things to do every day that keep you calmer so that you don’t feel it is the end of the world every time you are disappointed by an outcome.

Spiderman’s uncle should have said “With social media, comes great responsibility”. We have the choice to lower anxiety and stress for others too. How? By choosing what to amplify on our social media and Whatsapp chat groups. When conveying important information, sometimes how you convey it is just as important. If you’re just on the receiving end of all the noise, find a way to filter. I have found that checking on the 100+ messages that flood my phone first thing in the morning during a global pandemic is not the best thing to do. Even in the early stages of waking up (that moment where you first gain full consciousness and then tell yourself “5 more minutes”), I plan to quickly tap on my Bible In One Year app and let the audio devotional play as a start to my day. Peace over anxiety. Done.

6. Put things in perspective.

“The psychologist Dr. Jim Loehr talks about ‘framing’ events in our lives in a constructive way,” says  Sam Weinman, author of Win at Losing: How Our Biggest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains. “His point is that our interpretation of what happens is in many ways more important than what actually happens. If that’s the case, Loehr says, in any disappointment we need to find something useful that we can build on, or that at least lets us see even the smallest positive.” The more we can learn to frame in a way that’s constructive and positive while still being honest, the better we are able to process disappointment.

7. Try not to take other people’s reactions and opinions to heart. 

Differing points of view are not, in themselves, insults. “Some people feel attacked when someone disagrees with them or implies that they’ve done something wrong,” says marriage and family therapist, Jill Whitney, LMFT. “Wise people know that every person has a unique perspective, and that’s okay…. Don’t feel a need to be right all the time.” It is also important to own our mistakes and apologize when called for.

On a similar note… the Internet has got us laughing at real life stories of husbands not knowing how to solo grocery shop during this strict MCO, but it can be a very real cause of contention between married couples! Last week my husband brought home the wrong ingredients. I calmly told him they were the wrong ones and moved on. I later realised that he was being particularly snappy, speaking to me with a tone of voice I did not appreciate. Usually, I would take it to heart and react in an even bigger manner, but then quickly remembered he could be facing frustrations of his own during this time. My comment about the groceries probably didn’t help. I quickly told him how much I appreciated him for buying us groceries while I was managing work. I also said that even though they weren’t the ingredients we usually use, it would be okay – we will make it work. I’m just thankful we have food to eat. The atmosphere in the house was better after that! Phew!

8. Limit others from dumping their disappointments. 

While sharing and being heard is important, try to stay clear from people who make a big deal out of everything that goes wrong. “You may know someone who takes everything as a personal affront,” says Whitney. People who put a negative spin on everything often spew the negativity on the people around them, she says. Sometimes you have to limit contacts and when exposed, let negative news go in one ear and out the other. Especially when trying to process your own disappointments.

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels

9. Write down your distress.

This can help get it out of your system. “One way to cope with disappointment is by writing down our feelings,” says Diana Raab, PhD, creativity expert and author of Healing with Words and Writing for Bliss. “Journaling is a good way to start because it can help you express concerns and emotions about your disappointment in a non-threatening way. The journal is non-judgmental and will listen.” She says to ‘free write,’ not even lifting the pen from the page, until everything flows out. It can be a great way to grow, learn and transform from your disappointment.” 

10. Develop positive thinking muscles.

“Our brains are fundamentally wired to focus on the negatives in our lives. It is part of our self-preservation to look for potential threats in the world around us,” says Louise Aspden, a life coach specialising in positive thinking and emotional intelligence. “That wiring is old and in today’s world doesn’t always serve us when we are pummelled with negativity at every turn.” Our brains are also neoplastic, meaning we can rewire them to look for what is right in the world, she says. A gratitude list of 10 to 20 items every day can help reset your mind. List everything from that new job to that delicious morning coffee and you will see your knee-jerk reaction to negative new transform.

11. Breathe your way to a clear mind.

The emotional center in our brain can take over our ability to think straight in stressful situations, says Aspden. “It can send stress hormones through the system, increase your heart rate and blood flow so that you can ‘fight or run,’ as well as narrowing your thought process,” she says. “The simple act of taking a few deep breaths will dissipate the cortisol (stress hormone) through oxygenating your blood and will get you back into thinking mode instead of reaction mode.” Breathing can literally help you increase feelings of wellbeing and peace.


Whatever your situation is right now, global pandemic, marital issues, or overwhelming family responsibilities – if you’re feeling particularly disappointed during this time, I hope you will find these ideas useful. Apply them in your own way to your situation and start taking control over your thoughts and reactions. You’ll be surprised at how different the world looks after you do.

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Featured image by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash