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How To Deal With Disappointment

One of God's greatest gifts is unanswered prayers.

Even when you have a great life, you may not always get what you want. Everybody handles disappointment in his or her own way. Some pout, a few get angry, and others go into denial. So how do you handle disappointment, and is there room for improvement?

Pouting is a common response, but feeling sorry for yourself only blocks you from achieving your goals and moving forward in life. Okay, so it didn't work out; too bad, so sad. You need to get off your butt and do something constructive or fun, because life is a limited window of opportunity, and you really don't want to waste your time on what doesn't work. Better to seek out other opportunities or find a positive distraction.

I realize this may be hard to do at first. If it is, you need to find a way to deal with your feeling without doing damage to yourself. Once you get started, you will usually find that within an hour, your mood has shifted enough to allow you to focus on what's in front of you rather than on what you didn't get.

You can only pout for so long until it starts to morph into more toxic feelings like anger. But being mad at yourself or someone you care for just weakens your emotional and physical immune system. All your energy goes into dealing with your anger, and you have few resources for anything else. No one gets everything they want. Even Paris Hilton had to do a little prison time. The point is, when you feel disappointment, getting mad or mean is only going to make the situation and your feelings worse.

Instead of going into anger mode, it helps to look at what you have in your life already and consider what you are getting. Things may not be moving fast enough for you, but maybe they are going at the right speed. If you force things or people, they rebel.

Sometimes we get mad at ourselves because we have unintentionally hurt someone we love, or perhaps we feel like an idiot because we did or said something stupid. The truth is that someone who really cares about you will not hold your foibles against you, and you need to learn to do the same for yourself. Just make a brief apology and move on. Everyone involved will be better for it, especially you.

Denial may be the most insidious way of harming yourself. To repress your feelings is the first ingredient in a recipe for disaster. Holding things in or ignoring them will only make you feel worse. Those around you will get the vibe and perhaps pull away. And that hurts.

There's an old saying that "one of God's greatest gifts is unanswered prayers." You must have experienced this in your life at least once. So the next time you don't get what you want, remember that what you wanted may not have been what you really needed.

More from Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
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