5 Steps to Rise From Disappointment

“I can’t believe she did that to me. What did I do to deserve this? I can’t depend on anybody anymore.”

Sound familiar? Chances are we’ve all uttered these, and there’s no question that we’ve all been let down. Disappointment and hurt can harden our hearts against trust, result in a negative outlook, heck, even make us question the goodness of humanity as a whole. But there is a bright side. Here, some tips for how to make it through disappointment and come out the other side stronger, positive and inspired.

1. Avoid the drama. Whether the disappointment is due to an act of carelessness or a major heartwrencher, the first thing to do is to step away from any related drama. Situations of conflict have the potential to expand or shrink depending on the amount of attention we give them. In order to move forward, you’ve got to let the situation diffuse. This means that as tempting as it may be to press for a resolution, explanation, apology, whatever it is that you think you need for closure, the best course in the interim is to honor the yogic practice of detachment. Of course, this is easier in theory than in practice, but stepping away is critical for you to process the turn of events in your heart and mind without the emotional upheaval and energy vacuum that drama yields.

2. Recognize that it’s not about you. Human nature has us react first from a place of ego that would have us believe that everything is personal and encourages taking on the role of a victim. Be on the lookout for this defeating self-talk and resist the trap of self-blame, self-doubt, any of those unpleasant responses founded in the ego. Consider that there are a host of factors beyond you and beyond your control that were likely at work here. What, you’re not in complete and utter control?! Hard to believe, I know, especially when we pretend otherwise!

3. Give yourself time and permission to heal. When you’ve been hurt, there are no expectations for a high-speed recovery – except for those that you put on yourself. Remind yourself that your feelings are valid and that it’s okay to have some days that aren’t all rainbows and unicorns. While you’re healing your heart, surround yourself with activities and people you love, nurture your body and soul, and do something, anything, to help others – the fastest route out of self-absorption and into perspective and gratitude.

4. Reflect on your expectations of others. This one can be tricky, as you shouldn’t expect the worst of everyone because someone close to you has, in your mind, failed you. But you can consider whether you project unrealistic expectations onto those you admire and hold dear. Maybe you hold people to an exceptionally high standard that is difficult for them to meet. While we should expect to be treated fairly, truthfully and respectfully, we can also use these life lessons of being let down to examine how we react when others confirm that they too are human and capable of making mistakes. At the same time, we can consider our own vulnerability to disappointing others, and harness this experience to improve our relationships as needed.

5. Put the experience to good use. Once some time has passed and you’ve managed to process the letdown, put the experience to good use.. Use it to motivate you instead of allowing it to harden your heart or lead you to expect the worst; in other words, seek the positive of your situation. Let it teach you what you don’t want to do to someone else. Perhaps the disappointment inspires you to try something new or take a different approach, revise your goals, assess your relationships, clear who and what no longer serve you from your life– all opportunities for positive growth. While you may not feel like the proverbial phoenix at first, you can indeed rise above disappointment and use it as inspiration for becoming your best self.

Please comment below with a positive outcome of what looked at first to be only disappointment!

photo by: ralpe