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Steps for Dealing with Disappointment

I was listening to the radio the other day and the hosts were talking about what they wished they could still get away with as adults that they could as kids. One host responded that he wished he could still get away with throwing temper tantrums. And really, don’t we all? I mean, who hasn’t thought about throwing themselves down in front of God and everybody when they are having a really bad day.

I’m feeling that way right now, actually. I was offered a free, once in a lifetime trip, and now it looks like a booking error may be the end of it. I’m supposed to fly out in two days and we just found out that it may not happen. Why not? A phone call wasn’t made to change the reservation to my name. Hopefully it can be done, but I’m afraid to get my hopes up. I could be mad and angry, and act all stupid because a tiny detail slipped through the cracks, but I’m not going to. I was invited because my friend’s husband couldn’t go on this trip because he has to work on a different base, (he’s military). If anyone deserves this trip, he does. And I’m not really out any money, because it was already paid for, so now I’m just disappointed. 

But do you know who is watching me deal with it right now? My two beautiful children. They know that I’m disappointed and they are looking to me as an example. What if I stomp my feet and fall on the floor, throwing a massive tantrum? Then they will feel like the have the right to do that too, every time they are disappointed…for soggy cereal (my five-year-old) or for another day without an iPhone (my nine-year-old). Every day brings disappointment into a kid’s life.  I mean really, it is summer and we have to wake up at 6 a.m. tomorrow, that’s disappointing.  

But if I go crazy for not getting what I want, then I’m showing them that they should do the same. Instead, I try to change the focus from the problem to the good; and that helps me remember how great my life really is.

  • Step 1. Step Back: Remember that nothing is guaranteed…even a trip of a lifetime. Take a breath, giving yourself a moment to feel those bad vibes and just go ahead and exhale all those bad vibes right on out of you. No one needs to keep bad feelings bottled up. Someone told me that they give you bad breath…no one wants that!
  • Step 2. Step Up: Acknowledge your disappointment to yourself and others, without making a scene. You can be an adult and still be sad. But don’t let it take over, and there is no need to shove blame into anyone’s face. A mistake is a mistake. In my experience, most people don’t maliciously try to harm others. On the other hand, most people take it as a personal offense if something like this happens to them.
  • Step 3. Step Over: Figure out if there is an acceptable way to fix whatever it is that is disappointing you. We are waiting now to hear from the travel agent. She is doing her best to get it corrected in a timely manner. I am going to appreciate her hard work, even if I don’t love the end result.
  • Step 4. Step Around: Find a different path. This disappointment now may be saving you a world of trouble in the future. Find a new goal and chase it. If I don’t get to go on this trip, then I’m going to figure out how to make this weekend a super fun adventure for my family and take advantage of the fact that my husband is off work! 

This is by no means advice that I would give to those who are experiencing grief or life changing circumstances. There are stages of grief and a few steps can not change the focus of life altering situations. But for those of us who want to just throw a hissy fit, remember that we are all adults here and no one wants to see your knickers in a knot. 

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