You gotta be realistic. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re only human. You’re going to fail.
And yes, it can be frustrating seeing everyone around you succeed while you’re having setbacks.
So what do you do when the person that you’re disappointed in is you?
There are 3 unhealthy go-to responses to feeling disappointed in yourself.
#1 Punishing Yourself
When you’re experiencing frustration with your choices, you punish yourself by not allowing yourself to enjoy good things, rejecting others’ praise or engaging in negative self-talk. – to name a few.
Sometimes when you’re disappointed in yourself, you choose denial as a response. You decide avoidance is best. It’s best to not talk about your failure, to pretend that it never happened.
Denying either that you ever set the goal in the first place or that you strayed from it will not help you improve or achieve future results. You must be honest with yourself (and others, where appropriate) if you want to grow.
#3 Giving Up
Giving up is so easy to do when you set goals for yourself and don’t complete them. When you’re faced with your own failures it’s sooooo easy to give up. You are harsh and judgmental with yourself.
It’s as if you’ve decided that only complete perfection is worth striving for. One mistake or failure is enough to disqualify the value of all your efforts. And that’s simply not true.
It’s normal to not always meet your own expectations, even when you’ve set realistic goals. But an “all or nothing” approach is not going to move you forward.
Here are 6 Healthy Ways to Bounce Back After Letting Yourself Down
#1 Accept What Happened
It’s part of grief, part of life, and yes, a part of disappointment.
The first step to getting over any shame or embarrassment is to simply accept what went wrong.
Avoiding or glossing over it won’t help you move on.
If you need a good long cry, go for it. (Been there.) If you want to wallow for a few hours, you’re entitled. (Been there, too.) But then it’s time to brush yourself off and figure out exactly where things went wrong.
Simply saying to yourself, “I’m disappointed because I didn’t meet the goal I set for myself,” might make you see that this big issue isn’t the overwhelming monster you believe it to be – it’s actually a series of events that you can learn from.
#2 Be Your Own Best Friend
It’s easy to judge yourself in these situations, but let’s take one or two steps to find a new perspective.
If your friend came to you with the same issue – she was disappointed in herself for not having a stellar quarterly review, or bombing open-mic night – what would you say to her?
Probably not, ‘I’m so disappointed in you. You can do better. “
Rather, you’d be supportive and kind and listen to exactly what went wrong.
Treating yourself and your disappointment like a close friend can help ease the blame and help you practice more self-compassion.
#3 Change the Soundtrack Playing In Your Head
If you’re feeling disappointed, it’s only natural that your thoughts run amuck to the land of self-doubt where every thought you have reinforces that feeling that you let yourself down again.
It’s so easy to believe everything you think. But, you have to know, thoughts are not facts. So, stop believing everything you think.
- Instead of thinking, “I’m a failure,” think, “I’m a work in progress.”
- Instead of thinking, “It never works out for me,” think, “I’m getting closer every day.”
- Instead of thinking, “I can’t handle this,” think, “It’s here to teach me something.”
- Instead of thinking, “I can’t do it,” think, “I’ll never know until I try.”
Disappointment is only the enemy when you give it all the power through your thoughts and words. Make disappointment your friend and you’ll be amazed at what you learn.
#4 Do an Honest Review
To make positive changes, you most definitely need to spend some time reflecting on what went right, and what went wrong.
Ask yourself questions about why and how you disappointed yourself. How did the circumstances affect your choices? Do your goals or the implementation need to be reexamined?
Take this time to learn more about yourself, your tendencies and what you want to do.
There are so many lessons to learn from these huge or little blips of disappointment.
The first major lesson?
You know what NOT to do next time.
When you’ve passed the “acceptance” stage, start to figure out where things went wrong by asking yourself these questions:
- Did you give yourself enough time?
- Did you do the necessary prep work?
- Did you set clear boundaries?
- Did you ask for help?
Digging into these questions will expose any of the flaws in your plan. Instead of saying “Oh well, I guess it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to,” or beating yourself up, you’ll be armed with knowledge and be able to pivot.
#5 Use It
Understanding where your plan went sideways is crucial to plotting your next big endeavor.
We’ve all heard it, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over agin and expecting a different result.”
But see, now you’re not going to do the same thing over and over again! Look at all you’ve learned from reviewing the entire situation! Yes, you’ve learned from this disappointing experience.
So, now that you understand how you ended up in this situation, you can make a plan to get back on track and avoid disappointing yourself in the future.
Your plan should be realistic to the demands of your life and involve small, attainable steps for you to get there.
Think ahead of potential challenges that could derail your goals and how you will tackle them. Set yourself up for future success.
#6 Realize This Is All Just Because You Care
Ah, yes, the most important lesson of all:
The thing about being disappointed is that it reveals what you actually care about.
You wouldn’t be so upset if you weren’t invested in the outcome, and that in of itself is a great thing.
Disappointment can act like a radar system, pinpointing exactly where you are – and where you want to be.
While you might feel like shying away from it if things aren’t turning out your way, listen to your instincts. You’re disappointed because you care, and that passion is what will keep you moving forward.
When you take the time to learn from your disappointment, you’ll be more prepared the next time a challenge comes up.
If you are disappointed in your actions, use that disappointment as motivation to find a solution and try again. Use your disappointment as a catalyst to make good choices. What matters in this moment is how you choose to move forward.