Dealing with Disappointment: Writerly and Otherwise

It’s one of the hardest emotions to handle, and writers have to deal with it constantly.  It’s disappointment.

When you get a rejection, you deal with it.  When you call someone for information and they don’t come through for you, there it is again.  When things in your personal life are not going well on top of that, it can get overwhelming.

How do you cope?

  • Identify the cause of the disappointment. I don’t mean assign blame.  I mean think about why it’s there.  Did you expect something you didn’t get?  Were you supposed to do something and you forgot/blew it off, with consequences?  What happened to trigger that feeling?  Pinpoint it.

  • Recognize that it’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to say “I’m disappointed that___” and fill in the blank.  Once you acknowledge the feeling, then the cause can be addressed. 

  • Control what you can control. That is, your thoughts.  Don’t let them veer toward negativity.  So things didn’t go the way you hoped.  Find the positive in a situation.  Concentrating on the negative will cause you to miss possible ways around the problem. 
  • Communicate clearly. Disappointment comes from our needs being unmet.  If you’ve left those needs unarticulated, how will anyone know what they are?  A significant other cannot read your mind.  If you need something, you must ask for it.   Remember, you can’t make that person do what you want.   You can only state your wishes.
  • If there’s nothing you can do, let it go. This is the hardest thing about disappointment.  The only way I know to cope with this is to push through the feeling.  If you bottle it up, it only gets worse.  A rejection is a perfect example.  Feel bad, feel sorry for yourself and then move on to the next query or revision.

Seek support when you are disappointed.  Keeping things inside tends to magnify them.  Bounce it off a friend and he or she may give you a fresh perspective on how to handle a letdown.  Write or journal how you feel.  In the course of putting your feelings down on paper, you might come up with a way to turn the situation to your advantage.

How do you cope with disappointment?  Please share in the comments.

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