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Jan '10

How to Overcome Disappointments

Here in China I have been struggling with something… and to be honest I’ve been struggling with it off and on pretty much my whole life. Recently however something has clicked. A shift in my mindset which seems to be a really good solution. I wanted to share it.

Often in life a really exciting opportunity will emerge. Some sort of awesome future scenario will present itself with a possibility of becoming a reality.  Maybe someone talks about going on an awesome road-trip with you, maybe the girl of your dreams who you want to get to know invites you to go to a concert with her, maybe you’re on the verge of securing a new job. Whatever the situation, it’s something that makes you desperately wish that everything will go smoothly and work out so this scenario can come true.

I’m a strong believer in positive thinking, so when these things happened I would allow myself to get really excited about them. I’d bask in how awesome things would be if it worked out, and it would get me pumped for life.  The only problem was things don’t always work out how we plan, and when something would go wrong, all this built up excitement I had would turn into deep disappointment and sadness.

The common but destructive solution

I’ve talked to many people who have encountered this and the solution I hear most often is also the one I disagree with the most. It’s fairly common, but if you do this I think your seriously limiting your chances to bring these sort of experiences into reality. The solution is to expect the worst, to never get your hopes up for things, to never allow them to excite you but then in turn never feel bad because you can never be disappointed. The logic is to expect the worst and then be pleasantly surprised if something good does happen.

At first this does seem to make sense but it’s a destructive mindset. With the law of attraction, what you put out into the world you tend to attract. By putting out negative mindsets and low expectations you’ll only bring more of these things into your reality. On top of that you’ll begin to train your mind for a negative world view. The more you look at the dark side of things, the more you’ll see how things could fail and not work out. The more you’ll coach your brain to focus on these things and the more negative of a person you’ll become. If you see the world as a place where the things you hope for don’t come into reality, it will eventually be hard to believe in anything positive. You won’t set your own goals and aspirations, how can you strive to achieve something if you expect it not to work out. Following goals to fruition takes a lot of motivation, hard work and enthusiasm. If you expect the worst in life you’ll be more likely to expect the worst when it comes to your own ambitions, and the drive to accomplish them won’t be there. On top of this I feel it goes against the human experience. We aren’t meant to live a life of neutral emotions, we are meant to get excited about things, and were also meant to know what it feels like to be disappointed. The ups and downs of life are what make being a human a valuable lesson to our soul.

So I personally decided to keep getting pumped up and excited for things, because it felt good, but I also hated the deep sadness and disappointment I felt when things didn’t work out. I’ve been thinking this way for years, but it was still not quite right. It wasn’t until recently I learned a few shifts in my mindset towards these kinds of things that allowed me to still get excited, pumped and hopeful for things, without the huge disappointment when things didn’t work out.

Shifting mindsets

The first thing I had to change in my thinking was the small fear I had in the back of my mind whenever I would get hopeful for things. I’d get pumped and excited but I also knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work out and I’d be really afraid of this possibility. It almost felt like a desperate need for the plan to be fulfilled rather than a healthy hopefulness. Getting excited and pumped up for something does make it easier to manifest it into your life, but having a nagging fear in the back of your mind can often sabotage this and set you up for disappointment.

Backup plans

So how did I get rid of this fear? First I realized the importance of making awesome back-up plans. If you’re worried your friend will cancel on your awesome road trip, think of a backup trip like a solo adventure you can embark on. If you get really sick before the concert with the girl of your dreams, rest up but then plan an amazing surprise to invite her to in the future. Before finding out if you got the job you’ve been hoping for, find info on a couple backup jobs you’d also enjoy that you can apply to if this one doesn’t work out.

Even just quickly thinking of a short one line alternative if whatever things you’re hoping for doesn’t work out such as “If this doesn’t work out, I’ll do this instead.” Will help alleviate your fears about the situation and lesson your disappointment if your plan falls through. Most importantly it will let you remain excited and pumped for the first plan to work.

Accept we can’t control everything

A quote I came up with and try to live by is “Accept the things in life you can’t change, but never give up on the things you can.” The first part of this quote applies to disappointments. Sometimes things are just outside of our control, and no matter how hard we fight and struggle against them there’s just nothing we can do. If there is any possibility you can affect the outcome of a situation than give it your all and don’t give up, but if it’s something you can’t possibly change than learning to accept it is a valuable skill. The best way to accept the uncontrollable is to know that with every disappointment something positive can come out of it. Something that disappoints you today can change your life in a positive way tomorrow. Read my article called “Does everything happen for a reason.” To learn how to take positive reasons out of negative events.

You don’t need this to be happy

One of my favorite songs Here For You by Oliver Heart (Eyedea) has quite an amazing line in it. He refers to the journey of life as floating down a river. “All the pain we experience is a result of our expectations, but it’s the rivers nature to twist and turn.” When we become too attached to desiring a specific outcome we set ourselves up for massive disappointment. I encourage you to get excited and pumped up for the outcome you want but not attached. In other words, you have to keep in mind you don’t need this outcome to be happy. Try to derive your happiness from within and know that if you want to you always have the power to change your outer life situation. Sometimes if we just “sit and flow with the rivers natural process” we find that the happiness we thought we needed to find in one specific instance can be found in many other places. Know that if and when your plans work out it will be amazing, but free yourself of the desperate need for them to work out in order for you to be happy.


Don’t fall into the destructive trap of expecting the worst in life in order to prevent yourself from being hurt. Instead lesson your disappointment by freeing yourself from the fear that things won’t work out by knowing your happiness is not reliant on this one event, accepting the things in life you cannot change, and most importantly making awesome backup plans that keep you feeling good even if your main plan does not happen.

Life can be disappointing from time to time, but if you don’t let the disappointments get you down you’ll be free to dream big and make countless amazing plans in which the majority will work out, giving you a life full of awesome experiences.

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  • restless

    Good article. Concise and very well written. Thanks!

  • Devin Licastro

    Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!

  • Munir

    very interesting points in this article

  • Munir

    very interesting points in this article