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Extreme Reaction to Disappointment

Updated on February 15, 2017
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I am a professional writer from the UK. I have a degree in mental health as well as qualifications in mental health counselling.

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Feeling disappointment?

This is my personal experience of how I overcame extreme feelings of disappointment.

The purpose of sharing my experience of disappointment is to share how I learnt to recognise how I was feeling and to become aware of the negative emotion of disappointment that was affecting my life.

Disappointment can be felt as a fleeting negative emotion or it can be a profound devastating experience. For many, the experience of disappointment can feel as if a catastrophic event had just occurred. Whilst some might find it difficult to understand such an extreme reaction to disappointment, I understand because I have experienced a dramatic emotional response to, what seemed like at the time, one disappointment too many.

The Oxforddictionaries.com defines disappointment as, “Sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of one's hopes or expectations."

Disappointment, a feeling of displeasure

Disappointment is an emotional feeling of displeasure. It is a normal emotional response to a disappointment and an emotion we all feel. We might experience feelings of anger, regret, sadness, jealousy and fear when we have experienced a disappointment. We might feel like a failure and want to give up on life. We feel unhappy and cannot imagine ever feeling happy again. All that can change when we learn to identify and understand our emotions and our response to them. We can have control of our emotions if we know what the emotions are.

I will always be grateful to John Gray, author of ‘How To Get What You Want And Want What You Have’, for teaching me how to identify my different negative emotions, how to name my different emotions and how to to process my negative emotions to bring me back to an internal sense of peace. I learnt that having such an extreme reaction to life's disappointment had its roots in the past and in childhood experiences. As my childhood was full of abuse I learnt to understand how my past experiences were affecting my emotions and faced the past by writing my story, 'Living with Alcoholism in the Family' which helped me to come to terms with my life and my extreme reaction to disappointments we all experience as part of life.

John Gray explains why we should not push away feelings of disappointment as it is better to be aware of what we are feeling and to keep in touch with our emotions.

I recommend this book to anyone who is feeling lost and confused as a result of an emotional response to a life situation.

My personal experience of disappoinment

I recall an experience of a bad disappointment. I had been waiting for months for some news that I expected to be favourable news for me. I did not get the news I had wanted and I remember I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I felt that gut wrenching feeling we have when we don’t get what we really wanted in life or, when something we really wanted to happen, did not happen.

My whole world, and my stomach, seemed to collapse. My stomach silently screamed and I felt that horrible stomach sensation of disappointment and I felt distressed and gutted.

I cut off from those I love and wanted to be left alone. I felt disconnected from the rest of the world and all I could do was cry. I felt desperate and could not see a way out of feeling as bad as I did. I was shocked at the intensity of what I was feeling and I was scared.

I felt like I was seriously losing the plot and the will to live. Inside, I was hysterical but on the surface I looked fine and no one would have guessed my internal distress. I felt devastated and I shut down emotionally and became more withdrawn from the world. I felt that I was not worthy of getting what I really wanted. I felt anger that things were not going my way and I felt jealous of those that got what I wanted,

I felt distressed because I was focused on the disappointment and all other disappointments I had experienced in my life up to that point. Self critical thoughts and scenarios seemed to take over my mind and I ran with them and felt dreadful. I felt totally stuck in this negative emotion and did not know how to move on from how I was feeling.

Recognising the emotion of disappointment

That uncomfortable sensation we feel when we are experiencing a disappointment is resistance to life. We are resisting being able to move on from the disappointment and to find a solution to our problem. We feel hopeless and helpless to change our situation or our lives. We will become self-critical and our internal voice berates us, telling us we are stupid or not good enough in some way. We start to believe that we are not deserving of a happy life.

We want to feel happy but don’t know how to pull back from our emotions that threaten to spiral out of control. We start to believe that we are powerless to change our lives and we are stuck feeling unhappy. As we focus on our disappointment we feel deflated of the positive energies we need to deal with life.

If you find yourself feeling disappointed and hurt about something right now, I want you to know that I feel for you. Being stuck in this emotion is a dark and lonely place to be.

Choose happiness over disappointment

Given the choice, I think most of us would choose happiness over unhappiness if only we knew how. We all want to feel happy, to enjoy life. We all want to feel loved and live a life of happiness. We want to enjoy life doing what makes us feel good.

Some of us are stuck in a dark place. Whether that dark place is due to not getting the job, the thing, the girl or the boy or whatever the reason or situation you are feeling disappointed, disappointment hurts.

When we are in the emotion of disappointment we tend to focus on disappointing thoughts and continue to feel bad. We are also risking inviting more opportunities into our lives to be disappointed about so it is important to identify what we are focussing on.

Thoughts create reality

The theory of authors of ‘Law of attraction’ and 'The Secret', Rhonda Byrne, Bob Proctor, Esther and Jerry Hicks and others all say that, ‘Thoughts create our reality’, and so, ‘what you think about you bring about.’ My life experiences to date say this statement is true. If I focus on negative experience of disappointment, I give the negative experience energy and bring into my life more experiences of a similar kin.

We all have a thought power and this power is the key to creating our reality. According to the Law of Attraction theorists, everything we perceive in our physical world has its origins in the world of thought and beliefs. If thought power is the key to creating our reality then in is important to be aware of our predominant thoughts. It is necessary that we learn to control our negative thoughts and plant better feeling thoughts that we can focus on that will help us feel better. And it is important that we remind ourselves that ‘thoughts become things’ whenever we catch ourselves stuck in negative thoughts.

It is not always easy to jump from feeling totally disappointed to feeling a sense of relief but that is exactly what we need to do. We need to find a thought that makes us feel better and build on that. In their book, 'The Astonishing Power of Emotions. Let your Feelings Be Your Guide', Esther and Jerry Hicks give lots of ideas of how to find better feeling thoughts to lift us out of a negative emotion.

I know that if we feel unworthy we must be having thoughts of unworthiness. Thoughts and emotions go hand in hand. The emotion we feel is a result of the thoughts we have. So, if our thoughts create our reality we need to be aware of what we are thinking.

Learn to let go of the negative emotion of disappointment instead of being over taken by its intensity. It is true that all emotions are fleeting and will eventually change to another emotion. Life would be better if we stop focussing on painful experiences and find a more uplifting emotion to focus on.

Disappointment process

What follows is one of my techniques for alleviating the strong emotion of disappointment. I usually write in a journal and a journal can be just a piece of paper or a notebook. Sometimes I express on paper how I am truly feeling and then destroy the paper but mainly I write in my journal. You do whatever you are comfortable doing.

Grab a piece of paper and a pen.

Write the answers to the following questions.

  • What situation happened or did not happen to make me feel disappointed?
  • How do I feel right now?
  • Do I feel angry? Sad? Frustrated?
  • How do I really feel right now?

Write the answers out quickly and then move on to the next part and write out your answers.

  • How do I want to feel?
  • Do I want to feel happy?
  • How does happiness feel to me?
  • What would I be doing that makes me feel happy?

Once you have written the answers to the above questions spend some time imagining a situation that makes you smile. Imagination is a powerful tool that we can use to change our emotion and it works. You might find that you think about and focus on happier situations and life disappointments will become easier to deal with.

Keep a journal or diary to record how you are feeling which will be an indication of what you are thinking.

Create a relationship with yourself by taking time out to notice how you feel physically and mentally and if its anything other than feeling great, process the feelings and bring back your emotional balance.

Final point

Once I was able to process the negative emotion that was having such an effect on my mental health, I found that I did not really want what I thought I wanted in the first place. Now, rather that be lost in my grief of not getting what I really thought I wanted, I am able to let go of the disappointment and move on with my life. I also now have the skills to deal with other negative emotions I might feel and know that the negative emotions will not control my life like they had done in the past.

The Secret

We all deal with life disappointments in our own ways but an extreme reaction might be a sign that we are stuck in a negative emotion linked to childhood. Think about why you are having such a reaction by processing negative emotions as I have.

We all deserve to feel good about life and to feel happy but while we are stuck in a negative emotion. feeling happy is not so easy. Become aware of how you are feeling and bring yourself back to a balance place in which all emotions can be handled much better.

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      Janette Heys 6 months ago

      I experience, in life, lots of disappointments. After reading this article I feel that I have a tool to work on to help me overcome my negative feelings. Thank you.