06/06/2012 12:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Handling Disappointment -- Creating Lemonade

Today's world is filled with disappointment. So where's the lemonade? This is not to say that disappointment is bad; it's part of the process of growth, it's part of the process to expansion, and it's part of life as we know it. So when people tell you to "make lemonade out of lemons," unless they tell you how, those are words that don't carry much "how to" with them.

When soul lemonade is called for, recognize that you are disappointed, sad, bummed out. As the saying goes, "Feel the feeling." Know that you are saddened that you didn't get the promotion you were waiting for for two years, didn't get asked to the party you just saw on Facebook, or are devastated by the fact that the vet couldn't save your pet. To not feel these losses it would be necessary not to be human.

The scale of disappointment slides from little to big, and none of it feels good. Time does not heal all wounds, though it can help. Once we identify what is making us hurt and sad and can feel our feelings, then we can do something about them. We need to start the healing. If we can stimulate the "feel good" hormones, this goes a long way toward the brain firing feel-good higher serotonin levels, and these can come about in a number of ways.


Exercise is one way. We hear about the runner's high, and most exercise produces some variation of this phenomenon. It stimulates beta-endorphins, the hormones that produce well-being, which can relieve some of the pain while we are going through it. Massage can do the same, it's just someone else moving our muscles for us! Meditation works on the brain better than anything.

When people overeat or drink too much or take drugs, this can provide a sedating effect and just numbs the person and stuffs their feelings away and does nothing constructive. This simply buries the pain temporarily. It will keep resurfacing, and the cycle can become a vicious one and can turn into a lifelong pattern until the pain is dealt with once and for all!

There's a reason therapy is popular -- it works. Talking to a friend or therapist can do wonders. It allows us to identify the problem and talk about solutions Even if there is no solution, at least we've shared it with a listening ear with a friend, family member, or trained professional who is there for us in our hour of need. This can be especially valuable for children who are often times confused about what they are feeling and why.


Art and music therapy are especially wonderful when you can express your feelings through the arts. Children often love to express themselves freely through art. And adults, once they feel comfortable enough, can readily benefit from art therapy as well, and this includes dance, pottery, writing, and any of the arts.

A hobby can provide hours of sustained relaxation and beta-endorphin production. This might include re-building cars or writing haiku poetry. But no one need be stuck in disappointment mode. Life is too short and too rich an experience. It is to be lived and loved.

Reaching out and asking for help is not always easy. Remember that it is an act of courage.

Try to keep your perspective as a member of the human family knowing that we are all going through this journey together, and we all experience disappointments at different times. Just as you experience disappointments, you will also experience joys and triumphs. Remember to savor and enjoy those, too. Many people forget to do just that. They know how to dwell in the disappointment zone and speed right through the joy zone!

Once we can handle the peaks and valleys of life, we can reach a nice middle ground where we can hold it steady. That's the goal -- sipping on lemonade for life!


Images from Patricia Rust's new book "I'll Call You Back" by Patricia Rust, Illustrated by Bo Kim, soon to be available on Copyright @2012 Rust/Kim

For more by Patricia Rust, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.