Disappointment, like shit, happens. None of us are strangers to it, of course. Can you imagine a life of wishes always being fulfilled? Sounds totally awesome, but also completely unrealistic—wait, what’s a stronger word for unrealistic?

When I got the email this week from BlogHer’s Life Well Lived, selecting me to respond to the question “How do you deal with disappointment, and what lessons do you have to share from those experiences,” I didn’t have to dig deep for my answer to at least the first half of the question.

It seems disappointment does not travel alone. It is often accompanied by sadness or anger, or any combination of many different emotions. In my experience, the worst companion to disappointment is sadness and the best is anger. Sadness combined with disappointment results in my closing myself off—from the world, from the things I enjoy, from things and people that would help me get over my disappointment. If I can’t rile up some anger or a plan for the future, if I am saddened by the disappointment, I admit to retreating into books, tv shows, bubble baths, and pajamas. However, anger combined with disappointment motivates me. It is easier to plan for or make changes—whether life-altering or minor—when I am angry.

So when I am disappointed, I try to feel angry if at all possible, because it’s a defense against allowing myself to be hurt in the same way again. Doesn’t always work, but at least the promise of protecting myself feels like a step in the right direction.

I don’t feel I have any amazing tada! lessons to share with you from the disappointments I’ve felt. I’m a work in progress, just like you. Well, and frankly my memory really sucks. Who wants to sit in front of the computer racking their brain to recall past disappointments in search for a pearl of wisdom that resulted?! Not this girl. I’d rather just move along.

But wait! Maybe I do have some advice—don’t let your hope run wild. Don’t make too many plans. But if you must, be sure to share those plans with anyone else involved. Get on the same page. Talk about the plans. A lot. But without investing too much hope in them.

That’s some shitty advice, though, isn’t it? It’s like I’m saying to never be hopeful about anything in order to avoid disappointment.  What a downer.

Hmm, I guess that’s actually what I’m saying. Yikes.

But what else I’m saying is that I’d rather have hope—even with disappointment—than no hope, no plans, no goals, no dreams. I’d rather have the experience with the disappointing outcome than not have had the experience at all.

This quote from Henry David Thoreau makes me feel a little better:

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”

Are you still following?

So, what lessons have YOU learned or advice do you have about being disappointed? Share here or join the conversation over at BlogHer, where you can also enter the Life Well Lived sweepstakes!


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  1. I used to have the motto of “Don’t plan for anything really awesome. Keep your expectations low or plan for the worst and you’ll never be dissapointed.” I guess I’m still that way to an extent, except I’ve added “It’s the army, what did you expect?” to it a lot of the time, ha. :-/

  2. I used to think keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed as much. But I changed that (gradually.)
    I now think that there is nothing wrong with disappointment.
    We try to live our lives avoiding it like the plague.
    But it’s part of live. What is wrong with hopes and dreams? And what is wrong with bigger hopes and dreams? Nothing.
    I think life is more fun with big hopes and dreams. And now that I have the courage to hope big, I find myself being able to deal far better with disappointment, knowing that it is inevitable in life.
    When I used to keep my expectations low, I was constantly frustrated and angry at myself for getting disappointed again.
    I learned this lesson from my kids. I realize that I want them to learn how to deal with disappointment instead of avoiding them. As a mother I want to say to my kids: “go for it, put yourself out there, live life to the fullest.” Instead of limiting them afraid that thy will ever get disappointed. That made me rethink about myself.
    That’s one of the best things of motherhood, it holds the opportunity to look differently at yourself.
    I do apologize for this novel instead of a comment..
    I love this thought provoking post.
    Mirjam recently posted..List of smiles

    • I love book-length comments, so no worries! I’m happy you stopped by! You are so right–life is more fun with hopes and dreams, even if they disappoint. And it’s a great message to teach our kids!

  3. Okay, here’s the perfectionist in me ( that I need to work on..) It’s part of life, not live..
    Okay, really going now, bye!
    Mirjam recently posted..List of smiles

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