5 Ways to Deal with Disappointment

September 27, 2021

Cancelled plans, poor exams results, loosing a friend or a job, bad movie endings and lost footballs games. We've all experienced disappointment throughout our lives, leaving us feeling overwhelmed, down and depressed after something fails to live up to what we expected or wanted it to be. This feeling is often the result of an imbalance of neurotransmitters being fired in the brain.

What happens when we feel disappointed?

Feeling disappointed is associated with a rare response in the brain, where two neurotransmitters; glutamate and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), are fired at the exact same time. When the level of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, is greater than the level of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, feelings of aggression, sadness and disappointment can manifest.

GABA helps to maintain relaxation, relieve anxiety and compensate for decreasing serotonin levels, hence why, when it's being fired at a  lower rate than glutamate, those unpleasant behavioural and emotional changes become more dominant and facilitates that feeling of disappointment.

Dealing with disappointment

Boost your serotonin levels

Research found that when rats were given antidepressants whilst being denied a reward, their serotonin levels rose and levels of GABA and glutamate equalised and compensated for the negative event. The rats no longer felt as disappointed!

You can boost your serotonin levels in numerous ways, such as by eating food containing tryptophan, exercising, exposing yourself to bright light, using dietary supplements and getting a massage.

Accept your disappointment

Disappointment is an uncomfortable and painful emotions to experience, but it can become bigger and more powerful the more you try to hide from it. It tends to pass you by a lot quicker when you let yourself feel your disappointment and experience all the hurt it brings for a while.

Learn from it

The reason for your disappointment may have been avoided if you or someone else had done something differently, which is something really valuable to take with you. What can you learn from this experience? What can you do to prevent this amount of disappointment next time? Could you do something now to reduce the amount of disappointment?

You are not a disappointment

Feelings, such as disappointment, can feel so intense at times that you may forget that they aren't real or entirely based on facts, which may result in feeling defined by them. However, just because you may feel disappointed or have disappointed someone else doesn't mean that you are a disappointment. Thoughts and feelings are temporary, so unless you label yourself as a disappointment, this feeling will pass and you'll be able to move forwards and grow.

Adjust your expectations

If you're someone that seeks perfection or has high expectation of others then you'll feel disappointed more often. It might help you in the long run to lower your expectations and assess situations more realistically instead of idealistically to save yourself a lot of suffering and disappointments.

Disappointment is a normal part of life, but instead of feeling overwhelmed or controlled by it, you can learn to manage and grow from it.

Post by a member of the Feelmo team.

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London, UK