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How to deal with disappointment

Dealing with disappointment can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to let it build up or take over your life. Learn how to cope with disappointment and avoid being overrun with negative feelings.


Understanding disappointment

Disappointment is the negative emotion you feel when an outcome doesn’t match up to your expectations. Characterised by feelings of sadness, loss, anger and frustration, disappointment is an unavoidable part of life – but it’s not always easy to deal with, even if your setback is relatively minor.

You may experience disappointment when something positive you expected to happen – a new job, a new relationship, a holiday – doesn’t eventuate. Disappointments can be minor frustrations or life-changing events.


“It’s normal to struggle with and feel overwhelmed by disappointment.”


It’s normal to struggle with and feel overwhelmed by disappointment. But it is possible to work through your feelings and maintain a positive mind frame. Here’s how.


Give yourself time to reflect

Allow yourself time to make sense of what went wrong, grieve your loss and think about why the disappointment happened.

Was the outcome predictable, a shock or outside of your control? When you understand the reason why the disappointment happened, you’ll be better equipped to manage your feelings and rationalise the event.


Adjust your expectations

You feel disappointed because things didn’t turn out as you expected. But if you adjust that expectation, you may be able to feel less disappointed and move on.

Adjusting your expectations can be a useful tool in getting over feelings of disappointment. But it’s also important to constructively deal with the disappointment, rather than pretend it didn’t happen altogether.


Don’t let your disappointment linger

While it’s okay to take some time to grieve your disappointment, try not to focus on your negative emotions for a long time. Spending too much time and energy on your disappointment will have a detrimental impact on your mood and mental health.

You can also view the disappointment as something you can learn from. You can consider whether there is something you could do differently next time.

You may need to make an effort to focus on positivity strategies so you can let go. Some examples include positive self-talk, journaling, daily affirmations and surrounding yourself with positive people.


Look after your physical health

Whenever you experience a stressful event, including a big disappointment, it’s important to look after your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing.

Taking the time to eat a healthy diet, exercise and get enough sleep will help to reduce feelings of stress. A poor diet combined with a lack of sleep can make you feel worse – which can make it harder to cope with negative emotions.


Where to get help

Disappointment is a normal part of life, but if you’re struggling to overcome your feelings and move on, perhaps it’s time to speak to a healthcare professional.

You can also contact MensLine Australia 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us on 1300 78 99 78.

If it is an emergency, call 000.