When Harry Didn't Meet Sally: The 5 Steps of Dealing with Disappointment

When Harry Didn't Meet Sally: The 5 Steps of Dealing with Disappointment

We've all been there, folks. You've planned, sweated, prayed, and done your darndest to turn glass into gold, but your best efforts have been thwarted. You get excited about a party, only to have it cancelled at the last minute because of an axe-wielding clown. Hell, even politics are filled with could've and should've beens! (Well, kiss my grits, can you believe that bombshell?)

I'm talking, of course, of that stomach-churning, blood-pressure-raising sensation of disappointment. The common denominator among human beings and the great leveler, we've all been victims in the claws of this mighty falcon. We all have gotten our hopes up and ended up with egg whites on our faces (but not egg yolks, because apparently if you eat too many egg yolks you'll get restless leg syndrome or something...)

The hardest things to come to terms with in our lives are the things that we can't control. Disappointment is when you put all your ducks in a row and then they get eaten by a coyote and shat upon the plains. Though we fight and wrestle and hinder fate, we are always subject to our best-laid plans being dashed.

The real question then is how do we deal with disappointment after we've been dealt the old maid and have to pick up the shattered remains of our hopes and dreams? I've pondered this subject quite a bit over the past few weeks and have come up with 5 Steps of Dealing with Disappointment when all seems lost and you don't know where to turn. Well, you can turn to Ol' Steven for some help and homegrown advice on this thorny and touchy subject:

1. Dissect what the root of your disappointment is:

When faced with any problem, my advice is to always start at the root. Your crush cancels a date on your and you're on the verge of death...but why is that? If you have a psychological fear of being alone, you are more likely to freak out when a date is canceled or your crush starts to date someone else.  Once you realize you have a fear of loneliness, you can begin to build yourself up and know that your fear is a common one and can be controlled more easily than you think. If you get to the root of the issue sooner rather than later, you'll save yourself many wasted minutes bemoaning your bad luck.

2. Once you've identified the root, analyze why the plans went wrong:

Instead of stewing like a prune, get your butt up and map out the situation and figure out where the disconnect happened. If you studied for a test and still got an F, you may want to reassess your study habits and course load. If you keep baking cookies that turn out like hockey pucks, find the ingredient you didn't measure right or forgot. If you map out what led to your disappointment, from the root, you'll see where things can be improved next time to secure a more fortuitous outcome.

3. If your disappointment rests in another person, create an open dialogue with them:

In relationships, we often see one partner become sullen and silent when they are faced with their loved one disappointing them or vice versa. Yet, the path to contentment isn't found through evasion. Talk with the other person involved in the disappointment to discuss your feelings and clear up the cancerous seeds of bitter distaste before they become a bush large enough to swallow you whole (and I'm not talking about Oprah Winfrey's bikini waxing session, either.) An open dialogue will clear away the bad taste from your mouths and set you on a path to future satisfaction.

4. Analyze your worldview:

Do you believe the world is a good place or a bad place? Do you think life is for you or against you? Your basic view of existence will often forecast how you view disappointment. I know people who are constantly disappointment with life because their worldview is malignant and unhealthy. No matter how much a person like that plans or works, their day always seems to end in sadness. If you find you hold a pessimistic view of life, therapy or self-help books will help you pinpoint the cause of your "Debbie Downer" attitude.

5. Learn to let (s0me things) go:

As successful and driven human beings, we often forget that not everything will go our way. To quote my favorite Rolling Stones song: "You can't always get what you wa-aaaaaaaant!" The sooner we come to terms with our mistakes and the disappointments of the world, the sooner we start down the yellow brick road of happiness. Because, as The Stones deduce, though you can't always get what you want, you'll often "get what you need."

Disappointment is a fact of life and, like most facts of life (and indeed the TV show The Facts of Life), you won't always have Mrs. Garrett to help you and you'll end up with Cloris Leachman.

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