Handling Disappointment || Learning from Failure

“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” – Kristin Armstrong

    ~The topic of how to properly handle disappointment and failure has been well regarded as crucial to the betterment of one’s mental health. It has almost become cliché to an extent due to its consistently being brought up in daily social topics. As seen in the case of multiple prolific sports athletes who have openly made it known to the public that they need some time to focus on their mental health. Twenty-three year- old professional tennis phenomenon and four-time Grand Slam winner, Naomi Osaka, earlier this year in an elongated Instagram post opted not to play in her upcoming match tournaments due to her personal ongoing bouts with depression. Four-time Gold Medal winning Olympic gymnast, Simone Biles, also decided to take a step away from her sport during the 2020 Olympics as a result of suffering from “twisties” — a frightening state of disassociation that prevents athletes from successfully completing a skill, which can lead to serious injury (Lewis CBS News 2021)”.  Both of these athletes have consistently remained elite performers in their respective crafts, entertaining viewers and fans of all ages worldwide.  Their triumphs and failures are publicly televised and conversed about by sports network commentators, podcast hosts, etc–which can heap serious amounts of pressure and mental obstacles that they have to endure and overcome.  However, how do we as private non-celebrities deal with handling personal disappointments and learn from our seemingly inevitable “failures” in a healthy non-self-destructive manner?

    The truth is that there is not one distinct way of answering the ever prominent question on how to properly tackle the distaste of disappointment. Considering that everyone’s personal bouts with disappointment differs in emotional levels; however the sour good news is that we can all relate in having dealt with that emotion.
    According to Doctor Tara Well in her Psychology Today article entitled, Dealing With Disappointment, she descriptively defines the emotion itself, “As an emotion, researchers describe disappointment as a form of sadness–a feeling of loss, an uncomfortable space (or a painful gap) between our expectations and reality (Well 2017).”
    Based on personal experience, I have not always been the best at handling my own disappointments due to my being pretty critical of myself and having always believed in the necessity to hold myself to a higher standard due to my faith. My coming to the conclusion later in life that my fallibility and imperfection as a human being is an inevitable conundrum, has allowed for me to understand that disappointment is a fragile emotion that should be handled carefully. Meaning, that it is such a delicate situation mentally that already puts oneself in a frustrated and “down” state, causing moods and attitudes to have severe fluctuations many times, if not managed properly.  One of the major issues that I have noticed which might be relatable to some when disappointment strikes, is the inability to properly articulate your feelings considering the emotion’s dampening and often polarizing effect.

    I have found that one of the best things an individual can do in moments of disappointment is to verbalize their problems; allowing themselves a moment to face and acknowledge the negative feeling–recognize and salvage the lessons that can be learned from the circumstance–thus giving them a chance to construct a plan of resilience, enabling the step forward to be one of confidence and overcoming.

    The difficulty in dealing with the disappointment portion of failure, is the natural unwillingness to revisit the unsavory events that evoked those distasteful feelings.  A quivering lip when facing those events is almost certainly bound to occur which is nothing to be ashamed of. The mere fact that we decided to look at the disappointment dead in the eye is proof enough of a lesson already learned.  A lesson shaped towards the necessity of overcoming a past disappointment. The epiphany of recognizing that failure is simply a stepping stone towards another door of opportunity yet to be seen.  In the moment, it might appear that there is no way out due to your harsh clashing with disappointment/failures, which can be due to intense target fixation–causing one to be so locked on a “target” or “situation” that they don’t see other avenues before them–and end up crashing into the problem head on.  Learning to expand your peripheral awareness during such failures through the means of taking a step back and reassessing the situation, can refresh our minds and give us a new perspective pointing to other solutions that were withheld from us due to our emotional blindness. Sometimes finding a trusted person to converse with, vent to or even ask for advice can enlighten and provide us with unique viewpoints.  There is always more to a failure than what we initially see on its bleak surface.  Further analysis of our decision-making can transform a proposed failure into a moment of clarity and potential success.~
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates
    I hope this post was insightful and shed some light into my current perspective on handling disappointment and how to learn from our failures.  Have a great rest of your day or night!

Handling Disappointment || Learning from Failure