How to Conquer Disappointment and Show It Who's Boss!

You can turn disappointment into a positive, life-changing experience with the potential to catapult you into a place in life you never even imagined.
04/25/2014 02:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017


Disappointment is part of life, that's reality. However, with the right practice, you can conquer it! You can turn disappointment into a positive, life-changing experience with the potential to catapult you into a place in life you never even imagined. For some, this could be you, if you choose, disappointments become this energy or motivation that drives you to take a different approach, learn more about yourself, and come back even stronger, more resilient and compassionate with yourself.

Therefore, the way in which you perceive and respond to disappointment makes all the difference. Realize that disappointment and any lingering self-limiting beliefs don't need to hold you back!

That's right! In today's blog article, you're going to learn exactly how to keep disappointment from getting the best of you. Before I share three (3) steps on how to make disappointment actually work to your advantage, I'm going to share one of my little known disappointment moments with you.

After training since January, I was ready to take on my first 10K race (6.25 miles) in October 2009. I was super excited and told all my friends, family and coworkers about the race. My dad and step-mom came down to see me start and cross the finish line. In addition, I was actually running this race with a few neighbor friends -- there was support, encouragement, and camaraderie all around.

On the morning of the 10K race, about 30 minutes prior to the start, there was lightning and a thunderstorm. It was a downpour and we were entirely soaked, as we prepared for the race lineup. Then miraculously, the skies cleared and the rain stopped a few minutes before the race siren went off. It was so humid that wearing wet shorts, tank, and long sleeve top for rain protection made it not only uncomfortable but more difficult to breath.

Then I made the classic beginner runner's mistake by starting out way too fast, which exhausted my energy way too soon. I made exceptional time for my 5K mark, and then began to slow down because I couldn't keep up the pace. I was so mad at myself for starting out too fast and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to recover.

In fact, on two occasions during the race, I found myself walking to catch my breath, for a few minutes each time. I was so ashamed of myself because this was not how I intended to make it through this race.

At last, the finish line appeared in the distance a quarter mile away, but I wasn't sure if I had any energy left to give. I felt like I wanted to cry, quit and walk the rest of the way. It was over... I wasn't going to meet my anticipated finished time goal of 55 to 56 minutes at 9 minute per mile pace.

At that very moment, as I struggled to finish, my neighbor runner friend Steve appeared, exactly when I needed him most. Steve ran with me to the finish line, encouraging me to keep going, I was almost there. He told me I would regret it if I walked the remainder of the distance. He was so right.

So I kept going and right there and then, decided to finish strong. This was it! I wasn't going to let any disappointment or negative self-talk hold me back from crossing that finish line. In the end, I finished strong at 59:42 minutes, about 9:30 minutes per mile pace at the Great South Bay 10K Run.

All in all, despite being disappointed about my race approach and finish time that day, I learned the runner's lesson of finishing strong, no matter what, in a race and in life!

Here Are Three Steps On How To Make Disappointment Actually Work To Your Advantage:

1. Feel the emotions, acknowledge them and let them move through you in a healthy way
Talk it out; cry it out; journal it out; artistically express it out; physically feel it out through sports practice; exercise; spin class; running; yoga; dancing; meditation and/or deep breathing.

Just let it go. Feel it and then release it. This is a healthy practice to conquering disappointment. Courageous and remarkable ones take the healthy approach when dealing with emotions rather than suppressing, denying or avoiding dealing with them.

2. Be grateful for the experience and for what you have going on for you right now.
There's got to be something you can take away from this experience, even if it's just thinking, "Well, I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to participate. I gained... "

What lesson or insight did you gain?

3. Plan a different strategy for the next time. Ask yourself these questions.

■What can I learn from this disappointment?
■What else is coming up for me right now with respect to feelings, self-limiting beliefs/negative self-talk or any unresolved issues from the past?
■How can I be more compassionate and loving towards myself?
■How can I see this differently?
■How can I approach this differently next time?

Just like failure, know this -- one disappointing moment doesn't define who you are as an individual. Furthermore, taking it all into perspective, chances are that one moment will not determine the rest of your life. It just may feel that way at that very moment. Realize this. You can and will move on from this disappointment and now you have a strategy to get you there!

Would love to hear from you, so be sure to share your thoughts below in the comments and/or on the C&R Self blog! If this article resonated with you, then like it, share it, and/or comment below.

Originally posted January 2013 on Courageous & Remarkable Self blog.

For more by Sarina Tomel, click here.

Sarina is currently working on her first book, Courageous & Remarkable Self: Take Risks, Live More Intentionally, and Travel the World Fearlessly!