I’m a pretty “glass half full” kind of gal, which serves me well except for those times when my assumptions that the best will happen don’t really pan out. It’s those times that I’m taken off-guard, shocked to learn that, occasionally, the worst does indeed happen. Today we’re talking about disappointment, that universal feeling that is an inevitable part of life but is still so tough to deal with. And although it’s painful, it doesn’t have to break us.

There’s the everyday kind of disappointment that most of us can handle, no problem (favorite salad sold out at lunch, boss didn’t notice the amazing job you did on a project, Match date turned out to be a loser.) It may not be fun, but we can pick ourselves up and (in the wise words of Taylor Swift) shake it off. Then there’s disappointment, the kind that won’t be healed by a quick pep talk or a long soak in the tub (the job of your dreams didn’t work out, best friend totally betrayed your trust, pregnancy test turned up negative, yet again.) I’ve found myself in a couple of situations that were of the latter variety over the last few months. Although I’m unable to fully elaborate on the details, suffice it to say that they knocked the wind out of me and left me gazing at a glass that now looked, most definitely, half-empty.

Of course, since I’m the kind of person who recoils from the thought of wallowing in misery (at least, for more than a day or two), these experiences left me with a desire to come up with some coping strategies for disappointing situations, because, hey: this wasn’t the first time I’d felt it, and it certainly won’t be the last. And since everyone in the world experiences setbacks, I believe that our ability to be resilient plays a huge role in how happy and successful we are in achieving our goals. By coming up with some steps to healing from disappointment, my hope is that in the future, they won’t keep me (or you) down for too long. And these same strategies may even help us bounce back more quickly from the little hiccups that happen every day.

So, after first talking it out with a friend and thoroughly allowing myself to feel the disappointment I’ve experienced (always necessary first steps), here are a few actions I’ve recently taken to get over my disappointment, reclaim joy in my life, and move on so that I can accomplish what I really want to be doing:

  1. Take a creative approach. I always feel better when I take a proactive approach to a problem and, instead of feeling like a victim, get out a pen and notebook and jot down ideas for ways to get myself out of this mess. Negativity can stifle creativity, so first, remind yourself that it will be okay, then take a deep breath and allow your mind to freely brainstorm alternate approaches to the problem. Is it worth giving it another try? Or even better, is there another tactic you can take? Are there other resources you can tap into or a different response you could take to the issue? Disappointment clouds our judgement, so take a step back and be open to the fact that the best possible scenario may still be out there waiting for you to find it.
  2. It may not be personal. While it’s true that our actions bear many results in our lives, sometimes, life just happens and a situation is out of our control. When I experience disappointment, I often find myself obsessing over what I could have done differently to change the situation. Sometimes, the answer is “absolutely nothing,” and sending myself on an endless guilt trip is a pointless and destructive exercise. The only thing that is always in our control is our response to the situation, and we can can choose to either be driven by the things that happen to us, or we can choose to stand true to our own principles and act in the way that reflects our truest and best selves. Of course, sometimes, our actions could have resulted in a different outcome, making it especially important to…
  3. Adjust your perspective. Look at the big picture and reevaluate your attitude towards the outcome. Maybe we labeled it as “terrible,” when there actually could be positive consequences to the way things worked out. And there’s almost always something that can be learned from a situation. Sometimes it takes time and distance to figure out what that is, but there’s no doubt that the toughest situations in our lives are usually the ones that mold us into wiser, stronger, savvier women. And although it sounds simple, I often feel better when I just remember that while the situation may be sucky, it is not the end of the world.
  4. Adopt an “others” focus. There’s no better way to give your attitude a total makeover than choosing to smile, ask others about themselves, and empathize with their feelings instead of focusing on how miserable we are. Think about everything in your life that you have to be grateful for, including your family and friends who are always there for you. There’s nothing like getting outside of ourselves to help us forget the problems that once seemed so insurmountable.

Disappointments will happen to all of us, and we can either let them make us cynical, or we can use them as an opportunity to grow into stronger women with a deeper wisdom and a heightened empathy towards others. I’d love to hear in the comments — what have been your biggest disappointments, and how have you moved on from them?

Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” -unknown

*image sources: sleeping girl, frenchie.

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Comments (26)
  1. 1
    Kelly C September 7, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Beautifully written post, Camille. Thanks for these helpful strategies and your honesty.

  2. 2
    Kate September 7, 2014 at 10:48 am

    While I’d never wish any sadness upon you, it’s a little reassuring to hear that someone who seems so effervescent and happy can get hit with disappointment like the rest or us. Great, helpful post. I hope that you feel back to normal quickly and don’t experience any more disappointment anytime soon!

    I’ve led a pretty charmed, happy life, so when I do face disappointment myself, I tend to get the wind knocked out of my sails. I try to remember that even the worst experiences can lead to something good. Looking back, so many things that I thought were the end of the world (struggles with jobs/grad school, relationships, fading friendships) turned out to be the impetus for some really great things in my life. The trick is to, as you said, accept the disappointment for what it is, and try to recognize the good things that come your way later.

  3. 3
    Georgia September 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    As you said, Camille, it is important to take time to absorb the loss of a disappointment — is there anything more anoying than someone who immediately makes lemonade out of lemons or insists on seeing every ‘no’ as ‘yes’ to some great new opportunity 🙂 Taking care in how we frame the experience, perhaps as a setback rather than a failure, can make such a difference.

    • Camille Styles September 8, 2014 at 6:33 am

      I like that: “setback rather than a failure.” Amazing how the words we use to define the experience can make a huge difference for us mentally.

  4. 4
    Molly September 7, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I know a thing or two about disappointment lately, and I have to say, I think what you said about not taking it personally is so invaluable. I frequently have to remind myself that I am enough and just because one experience said no to me, that it doesn’t take away from my worth or value.

    You are a soul of sunshine!

    • Camille Styles September 8, 2014 at 6:35 am

      So true. One common thread that I’ve noticed in just about every biography I’ve read of people I really admire, is that they heard an incredible amount of “no’s” before they found success. Imagine if they’d let those “no’s” stop them!

  5. 5
    Ann Marie September 7, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    As one who has hit several (ok, a lot) of disappointing bumps in the road, this is well thought out and a good strategy for those of us who need a little perspective adjustment. I too am generally a “glass is half full” kind of person, but sometimes, it’s just not enough to get me through the moment.

  6. 6
    Chanel Dror September 7, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    You hit the nail on the head, Camille! This post has me empowered and inspired to stay positive.

  7. 7
    Lily September 7, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    I agree that we tend to take things so personally — when we often don’t know every side of a scenario! I am trying to have a better attitude these days as well. Thanks for the inspiration!

    x Lily

  8. 8
    Lisa September 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Preach girl, preach. I needed this right as you posted it.

  9. 9
    Jessi Afshin September 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Thanks for being such a positive inspiration, Camille! Looking at the bigger (positive) picture is often so hard in the moment, but I couldn’t agree more that the toughest situations in our lives are definitely the ones that mold us! Such an inspiring and motivating post! xo

  10. 10
    Kate September 7, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Let’s just say I can totally relate, Camille. I loved your “take a creative approach” section, and on a similar note, I’ve found the joy of getting lost in creative projects to be immensely helpful (especially in dealing with repeated disappointment). It’s a great escape, plus it’s definitely a way to be proactive in one area of life while we’re having to be patient in resolving things in another area. Not only do creative projects in the blogging arena help me, so do creative projects around the house. Not to mention, projects such as cleaning out closets! Thanks for writing such an encouraging, thoughtful post!

    • Camille Styles September 8, 2014 at 6:36 am

      Love this. “Closet organization” could very well make it onto the top 10 ways I’ve dealt with disappointment, ha!

  11. 11
    Jennifer Rose Smith September 8, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Great advice, C. When I’m faced with disappointment, I try to put that energy into work, practice, or learning. That’s when you have the opportunity to really get good at something. The older I get, the more I see that a common trait in highly successful people is their ability to overcome failure and disappointment. You have inspired me to become more that kind of person this year.

  12. 12
    Kelly Jo September 8, 2014 at 7:38 am

    I’m actually supposed to find out today about a job I applied for that I really, really want. It’s so easy for people to give the advice to not be disappointed if I don’t get it, but the reality is, I will be. Having this to come back to, either today or in the future will help so much. Thank you for the inspiring words Camille, every bit of this is so so true!

  13. 13
    Brooke Cariker Inabnett September 9, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Love it! Thanks for sharing. Very good reminder of how to deal with disappointment. We’ve all been there so it’s refreshing to hear someone talk about it. Thanks!

  14. 14
    Amanda McPherson September 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Wonderful tips! Disappointments happen to all of us and you just have to trust that even though this opportunity didn’t work out, a better one is around the corner.

  15. 15
    Estell September 14, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I think reading this is my turning point. You are very much on point. I suddenly realized that I’m taking toll on doing something about the problem by thinking about the problem instead of being action-oriented and doing something about it! Good thing I followed my gut feel when I saw a post on my Instagram explore page that camillestyles got a makeover.

    • Camille Styles September 14, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      So glad to hear it, Estell! Sounds serendipitous, and I’m so glad that you’re starting this new week by taking a proactive approach. Wishing you the very best! xo

  16. 16
    doingthewritethingnet August 2, 2016 at 1:07 am

    Well thought out suggestions. I have found the same things to be true. Thanks.

  17. 17
    Han Meets World August 5, 2016 at 5:42 am

    Nice to see your own approach written down in someone else’ words sometimes 🙂 Thanks!

  18. 18
    Pat August 6, 2016 at 6:04 am

    While the approaches you described are very good and I have intuitively been following them for the most part, when someone you love (my daughter) rejects me repeatedly and as part of that process ensures I don’t have a very close relationship with my only 2 grandchildren, it’s pretty tough to take and very hard to move on. The last time happened 2 weeks ago. I hadn’t seen my grandsons or daughter in 1 1/2 years (they live 2000 miles away) and instead of coming here for a summer vacation they went to my sister’s place (500 miles from them). I had been extended a half-way invite but my daughter told me privately I would “ruin her holiday” if I went. I didn’t think they were still going as other issues had come up, but suddenly there they were on facebook having all kinds of fun. I still feel so betrayed by both my daughter and equally by my sister who only sees things through her own eyes. This, to me, was beyond cruel. After years of trying to get closer to my daughter, with an achingly broken heart, the incident finally made me realize that this is the way things are going to be forever. There is no moving beyond it, there is only trying to accept it.