5 Steps to Deal with Disappointment

5 Steps to Deal with Disappointment

In life, disappointment is inevitable.  However, disappointment can lead to growth, opportunities, learning, and more.  Good thing, because right now, there seems to be a lot of disappointment going on. 

Many kids missed the end of their season and their school year.  So many have missed traditional birthday celebrations and family trips.  For many of us, we’re canceling summer plans like gymnastics camps and vacations that we’ve been looking forward to.

Validate Your Feelings

Yes, we have a lot to be thankful for and know we should be grateful, but it’s also okay to feel some disappointment along the way.  This is not what we were expecting—not even close to it, and for many of us, the longer this goes on, the more changes, cancellations, and disappointment occur.

Getting Away from Disappointment

Though the feeling of disappointment is to be expected right now, you don’t have to get stuck feeling that way.  Here are 5 steps to help you and your athletes deal with disappointment:

  1. Feel it.  Moving on or pushing feelings aside too quickly usually makes them come back more powerfully and in ways we didn’t expect.  Give yourself some time to just be disappointed.  Parents, resist the urge to get your kids to “brighten up” right away. 
  2. Write about it.  Write those thoughts and feelings down.  It’s a great way to get them out of your head and your body.  If you like, when you finish, tear up the page (or delete the file) to symbolize you’re moving on.
  3. Find gratitude.  Yes, you missed your birthday party, but you ended up with a really special zoom celebration and a creative at-home dinner.  Or, yes, you haven’t been to the gym in months, but you are more mentally tough than when you left.
  4. Get clear on what you’re disappointed about.  If you can clarify what you’re upset about, then you can find ways to address that loss.  If you’re sad about missing camp because you don’t get to see your friends who live in other states, why not plan a daily online get together for the week you would have been gone?  Give each day a theme and make it fun!  Zone in on what you’re disappointed about and then find ways to address that particular sadness.
  5. Make something unique happen.  These are unprecedented times and we are doing many things we never would have done before.  Keep that up when you’re feeling disappointed.  This is a bit like finding the gratitude, but is more actionable and is about doing something.  Upset you had to cancel the trip to Tahoe? Go camping in the backyard.  Can’t join your town’s pool?  Get a blowup pool (or two) and swim at home whenever you want.

Continuing to Adjust

As we continue to move into the second half of 2020, there are still many unknowns and chances are, more disappointments as we adjust.  Remember that situations in life are what you make of them.  So yes, allow yourself to feel the disappointment, but then find ways to feel better, whether that’s making new memories, finding the good, or another idea that’s all your own. 

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