Dealing With Disappointment—The Practical Side

“You need to be good at losing.” This is something I grew up hearing. What my mom meant when she said this is that I needed to respond well to disappointment. She did not mean I should expect to lose or even not care about losing. She meant that when things did not go as I planned, she wanted me to respond with grace and perseverance.

When my own kids lose at a game or something does not go their way, I hear my mom’s voice in my head say, “losing well is important.” Losing well is an essential life skill to master because inevitably certain things in our lives are not going to go as planned. When we are young, it may be losing a game of Go Fish. When we are teenagers, it may be not getting into the college of our choice. And when we are adults it may be not getting the promotion we applied for.

And of-course, there are relational and emotional losses too. For example, broken partnerships, divorce and even the death of loved ones. What we do in the weeks, months and years following major losses impacts our mental health and either speeds up or stalls our ability to heal and move forward.

Losing well involves two major pieces—the immediate response and the long-term response. When the other shoe drops, or life deals us a bad hand, we should experience emotions like sadness, frustration and disappointment. We should not exhibit angry outbursts, self-deprecate or wallow in self-pity. Losing well means acknowledging the negative emotions that surface and then managing those emotions well.

How we manage these emotions well spills into the long-term response to losing. What do we do in the weeks following tragedy or disappointment? Do we sleep too much or too little? Do we overwork ourselves to distract ourselves from our pain, or do we isolate ourselves and nurse our sadness? Do we eat too much or drink too much?

Or, when things do not go as expected, do we turn to healthy coping skills instead? Do we reach out to our therapist, get up earlier each morning to journal, or plan a day off just to relax and regroup? Having a set of coping skills to carry us through difficult seasons helps us to weather our losses and move forward in hope.

If you are experiencing disappointment or depression, our seasoned mental health counselors can help. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.


Yolanda Brailey