How to handle disappointment; advice from teachers



A collage of words associated with disappointment.

Taylor S. Fischbeck, Editor

Everyone’s heard the phrase “life is full of disappointment” which is true. Disappointment plays an important role in our lives and it can shape who we are depending on how we deal with it. Not only do people need to know how to deal with it, but they also need to see how it can impact people in different ways. 

Art teacher, Ms. Taylor, said, “First, it takes your breath away or it just kind of wiggles in. It just has several ways of manifesting. The disappointment that comes as a shock is pretty life stopping and you come to a realization ‘wait a minute that’s not how I wanted it to go.’” People set expectations and when something doesn’t meet those expectations, it causes us to feel upset and can give us a longing of wanting something to go back to the way things used to be.

“When sadness is triggered, a heavy emptiness or longing is felt because your brain’s appraisal system has determined that you have experienced a lasting loss,” wrote Mary C. Lamia in an article from Psychology Today tilted Expectation, Disappointment, and Sadness. “Disappointment is a profound way in which sadness is experienced,” Lamia continued. “People seem to do whatever they can to avoid recognizing that they are disappointed and will twist their thinking every which way to not recognize a true disappointment.” Not recognizing your disappointment can cause you to suppress it and not handle the problem or situation head on, leading to self-doubt or loss of self. 

Instead of suppressing our disappointment, we should embrace it. Math teacher Mary Welsh said, “I think disappointment has allowed me to grow a lot stronger than I think I would of had I not experienced it.” Disappointment can be a positive or negative feeling. It can be positive if you embrace it and overcome it but it can be negative if you do the opposite. Embracing the feeling can help people feel better about themselves and help them realize that life isn’t perfect and that they’ll make mistakes. As teenagers, we tend to beat ourselves up more than adults do when a mistake is made but dealing with that means that we have room to grow. 

Oftentimes, people will loop words in with bad situations and because of that, they don’t try and make a bad situation better. Language and culture teacher, Ryan Wells, said, “To a certain degree, disappointment creates like a reality check and like ‘okay, why are you disappointed, what’s going on in your life?’ [allowing us to act on it].” Disappointment, whether it be a person or a material item, can help you take a step back and reflect on what caused the disappointment, showing you what you can do next time in order to have a better result. 

“Having a regular meditation practice — a time to sit with ourselves and let go of striving toward our goals — can help build tolerance for feeling our emotions and create openness for new possibilities,” wrote Tara Well in her article Dealing with Disappointment. Taking this time–watching a movie, hanging out with friends, or even being by yourself–can help a person overcome their disappointment and get to a point where they know, in their future, to approach a situation differently. 

As self-help writer Edmond Mbiaka said, “Disappointment is nothing but an eye-opening learning process for your future endeavors.”