Ever Been Disappointed? How to Handle Expectations

Who hasn’t suffered disappointment from expectations? Yeah. No one.

Expectations go either one of 3 ways: 1) Far exceed what you were expecting; 2) As expected; 3) Or south, with disappointment not too far behind.

Some results from expectations are more annoyances, like, asking your teenager to clean up their crap in the basement, and when you come home later that day, there’s an even bigger pile. Or, driving somewhere and it takes you twice as long because of traffic AND construction. (That one kills me…)

Speaking of driving, I had an annoying disappointment last weekend. A friend and I were going to a dinner gathering at an unfamiliar location, which should have taken about 40 minutes. We were chatting away, and I had Google maps blasting, and she had her Ways app also blasting. The only difference is she had input a slightly different address, for example “street” instead of “court.” I guess I was nervous, not being familiar at all where we were, so I was following both. You get where this is going… We finally arrived, an hour and a half later. I wasn’t laughing then.

Some expectations really hit the core when they go the other way. Here are some examples of really disappointing expectations…

1) Not getting the job or promotion. Certainly you can look at what you might have done differently and analyze, you can’t control the outcome. What happens when you start internalizing your feelings is your inner critic comes out in full force. “I don’t deserve it.” “I’m not good enough.” Is there another way of looking at the situation differently, and maybe a little more logically? It could have been ANYTHING! Nepotism, they changed the parameters of the position, the stars weren’t aligned. ANYTHING.

2) Partner isn’t communicating as you wanted them to. You are two completely separate people that have to communicate with each other. You cannot control how they communicate with you. But you can work together on strengthening your communication.

If you have expectations of things always turning your way, disappointment is almost guaranteed. And when these disappointments involve other people, then resentment begins to build in your relationship.

So how do you manage disappointment?

First, I’d like for you to get a pen and paper, or a doc you can type on, and write your answers so you can see them and think about them in the future. When you see what you’ve written, it makes it more concrete for you.

1) Think about a time when you had expectations and the outcome was disappointing.

Try to separate the emotional reaction from what happened. This will help to empower you from the disappointment. Begin by trying to shift thoughts from victim to action.

2) Write down the thoughts you experienced about the disappointment. Are they inner critic thoughts, or are they practical and well-thought out? Write statements on how you might shift your thinking from victim to steps you can take to validate yourself

3) What did you learn about yourself from this situation?
Write this down too. It helps to see in writing what you learned about yourself and this disappointment.

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate your next disappointment. In time you’ll know which steps to take to ease the hurt.