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.
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.
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.