Dealing With Disappointment

When one has certain expectations of events, having those dashed is a hard pill to swallow. This is where I found myself recently, confronting the fact that I would likely not be spending the summer in New York as I had previously hoped. I was pretty upset, having dreamt of afternoons in Central Park and the ability to experience again a city that I love, but one in which I had been so unhappy for two months last year. This was going to be my opportunity to claim the experience back for myself, embracing the Big Apple on my own terms.

Except it wasn’t.

So what happens when something disappoints you? Well the way I see it is you have two options. You can spend your time bemoaning your bad luck, obsessing over something that will never come to be, which will just leave you feeling worse. Or you can take control, and here’s how:

Allow yourself to be upset: Take a deep breath, and a small moment to acknowledge the loss of a dream. Not giving yourself a moment will mean that the disappointment will resurface later, and you deserve to recognise that within yourself. Doing so will allow you to progress to the next step.

Accept it: It’s happened, and no amount of wishing that it hadn’t will change the reality. Your best bet at this point is to accept it, and try to be okay about it. You’ll be happier in the long run, I promise you. 

Create an exciting Plan B: Plan A didn’t work out, so now it’s time to turn your attention elsewhere. For me this meant thinking hard about what a summer not in New York would mean. Faced with three months in England, the most free time I have had in, well, forever, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do. I suddenly realised I had the freedom to undertake something I’d dreamed of a good long time: a Spanish language immersion program. Now, when I officially find out that New York is a no go, I will be booking four weeks in Guatemala. I’m now so excited about Plan B that I’m almost hoping that Plan A doesn’t work out. I appreciate that I have a certain economic freedom here that many may not have, but the point still stands: think about what you can do instead that will excite you, and go for it. 

With this easy three step method, I promise that you will deal with your disappointment. There may be times in the future when you feel a brief flare of regret for what could have been, but just repeat steps one through three. In my head this always goes something like:

“Wow, that’s rubbish. Okay, it’s not going to work out like I though. What happens next?” 

I hope this helps you. Disappointments are just that, disappointing, but many times in my life I have looked back and realised that my original dream just wasn’t meant to be; sometimes Plan B can indeed be the better option.