7 Ways to Deal with Disappointment

According to the old adage, “disappointment is expectation divided by reality.” If you adhere to this formula then the best way to reduce disappointment is to dial down your expectations.

While this approach may keep disappointment at bay, my concern is that it cultivates a pessimistic mindset. Thinking this way gnaws away at courage and hope.

As author J.K. Rowling reminds us:

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Instead of avoiding disappointment, navigate your way through it with these seven actionable strategies:

1. Do the opposite:

During periods of stress, people retreat into bad habits like eating poorly and not getting enough sleep. It is precisely at these moments that you need to take good care of yourself.

2. What would X do?

Think of someone you admire and consider what they would do. You don’t have all the answers. Look beyond yourself for advice and wisdom.

3. Use your strengths:

Take this survey to identify your top five strengths. Harness these strengths to help you move forward.

4. What matters most?

Your values define you, not your achievements.

5. Reach out:

Avoid the temptation to go it alone and withdraw from friends and family. Their support will shepherd you through this.

6. What can I learn from this?

Asking this question fosters a growth mindset. Effort isn’t always enough. Be curious. Stay flexible. What will you do differently next time?

7. Be you own voice of reason:

As hokey as this may sound, research shows that when you engage in positive self-talk using your own name (i.e. instead of saying to yourself, “I will get through this,” say “Samantha, you will get through this.”) you reduce anxiety and feel more in control.

Your attitude and actions will make the difference between getting stuck or moving beyond disappointment.


I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman