Overcoming disappointment

JULIE CHASE | MARCH 10, 2021

We’ve had more disappointment in the past 12 months than we can possibly count. It’s not just the big things like canceled events and trips, but it’s the everyday things — like not being able to go to school or work and not seeing our family and friends — that we’ve missed the most.

Looking back, do you feel like you’ve been able to overcome your disappointment fairly easily? Feel like you’ve grown? Become more resilient? 

Disappointing outcomes can open the door to new opportunities, learnings and practices. I’m fortunate to witness this all the time with clients I work with. As you know, the job search is filled with ups and downs. It feels terrible when someone you know well doesn’t respond to your email, when you received a canned rejection email for a job you’re a great fit for or when you learn that the hiring committee went with another candidate. These moments suck big time.

After working with hundreds of clients, I’ve noticed a common thread: the people who have the smoothest journey are the ones who are able to overcome disappointment fully and swiftly. 

Here are some of the tools and practices you can use to build resilience: 

Give yourself time and space to process your emotions

Acknowledge your emotions — and sit with them for a while. Take a long walk, journal and/or meditate — honor whatever feelings arise without judgement, stay open. Make sleep a priority  — when you get enough sleep, you’re in a much stronger place to tackle any challenge.

Think about other times you’ve had setbacks and recognize that you were able to overcome them and achieve your goals. 

Practice self compassion

We’re our own worst critics — focusing on our mistakes and weaknesses. Even worse, we’ll draw ridiculous conclusions to protect ourselves from failure such as “I’m never going to get a new job, so I might as well give up.”

What if your best friend or partner was looking for a job and said this to you. Would you agree with them and add your doubts too? No way! Talk to yourself the way you would to them. Give yourself the positive and loving support you need and deserve.

Embrace your amazingness

List all of your personal and professional accomplishments as well as your strengths. Look at your past performance reviews. Write a letter to your future self, congratulating you on achieving your lofty goals. Write and say positive affirmations about yourself and your ability to achieve your goals.

Surface key learnings

Ask yourself what you learned from this experience. Is there anything you can improve on for future opportunities? It might be time to re-evaluate if this is the right direction for you — it may be time to pivot. Obstacles often point us in the right direction. This is a great opportunity to clarify what’s most important to you. Clarity will help you focus and achieve your goals.

Gain a new perspective

Broaden your perspective by reading an inspirational book about someone who overcame monumental obstacles to achieve greatness. Volunteer at a local food bank or animal shelter. 

Start a daily gratitude practice by noting things you’re thankful for, big and small — like your family, the air you breathe and at least one thing about wonderful yourself.

Release stress through tapping

Tapping is similar to acupressure. It focuses on specific parts of your body while “tapping out” the negative emotions. It sends a calming signal to your brain — allowing you to feel relaxed and in control. Check out the 100+ videos on YouTube of Nick and Jessica Ortner explaining the power of tapping or you can download the Tapping Solution app and try it out.

Ask for help

Lean on your friends and family for support. They want to be there as much as you are for them. Give them the opportunity to be caring and generous.

I’m also a big advocate of getting professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty moving on. They’re experts and can provide the guidance and support you need. Counseling has helped me navigate through the biggest challenges of my life.

Here are some other resources which I’ve found extremely helpful: 

Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion by Kristin Neff at TEDx

Having a broad range of tools can help us move through difficult situations more effectively. The next time you feel disappointment, adopt a new technique or practice to process your feelings and see if you notice a positive change.