Disappointment: A natural human challenge | By Dr Rajkumar Singh, Bihar

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Disappointment: A natural human challenge

DISAPPOINTMENT is a feeling of dissatisfaction or letdown that can occur when expectations are not met.

It is a common emotional experience that can be triggered by a wide range of situations, such as a missed opportunity, a failed relationship, or a broken promise.

The background of disappointment can be traced to the fact that it is a normal part of the human experience and is related to the concept of “expectations.

” When we have an expectation that something will happen, and it doesn’t, we may feel disappointed.

This can be the result of the gap between our expectations and the reality of the situation.

Factors that can influence the likelihood of disappointment include past experiences, self-esteem, and the level of attachment to the outcome.

In the context, appointment and expectations are closely related, as disappointment often arises when expectations are not met.

For example, if someone expects to receive a promotion at work, but instead is passed over, they may feel disappointment.

Similarly, if someone is expecting a romantic relationship to turn into a long-term commitment, but it ends prematurely, they may also feel disappointment.

Expectations can be based on past experiences, cultural or societal norms, or personal goals and desires.

The higher the expectations, the greater the potential for disappointment. On the other hand, having low expectations can lead to less disappointment.

It’s important to manage our expectations by being realistic and setting attainable goals, which can help to minimize disappointment.

It can be characterised by feelings of sadness, frustration, or despair. It can also be triggered by external events or by internal factors such as self-doubt or unrealistic expectations.

It is a negative emotion that can lead to feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, but it can also serve as a catalyst for change and growth.

Disappointment and its effects: At large, the concept of disappointment can have a significant impact on a person’s personality and overall well-being.

Some potential effects include:

(a). Low self-esteem: When someone experiences disappointment, they may start to doubt their abilities and feel like they are not good enough. This can lead to feelings of low self-worth and self-doubt.

(b).Negative outlook: When disappointment is experienced repeatedly, a person may start to expect disappointment and develop a negative outlook on life. They may become pessimistic and see the negative in every situation.

(c).Emotional regulation: Disappointment can also affect a person’s ability to regulate their emotions.

They may become more prone to anger, sadness, or frustration in response to disappointment.

(d).Relationship difficulties: Disappointment can also impact a person’s relationships.

They may become less trusting, less open to new connections, and more likely to withdraw from social interactions.

(e).Loss of motivation: Disappointment can also lead to a loss of motivation and a lack of interest in things that were once enjoyed.

It’s important to remember that everyone is different and some people may be more resilient to disappointment than others.

Apart from its effects on personality, large part of it is related to social effects and it impacts a person’s interactions and relationships with others.

Some potential social effects of disappointment include.

(a). Withdrawal from social interactions: When someone is feeling disappointed, they may withdraw from social interactions, as they may feel less inclined to be around others.

(b). Difficulty in forming new relationships: Disappointment can also make it harder for a person to form new relationships. They may become less trusting and less open to new connections.

(c).Conflict with others: Disappointment can also lead to conflicts with others, as a person may become more prone to anger, frustration, or resentment in response to disappointment.

(d).Reduced empathy: Disappointment can also lead to reduced empathy, making it harder for a person to understand and connect with others’ feelings.

(e).Loss of social support: Disappointment can also lead to a loss of social support, as friends and family may distance themselves from a person who is frequently disappointed

Types of disappointment: There are several types of disappointment, each with its own unique characteristics which include:

(a). Anticipatory disappointment: This type of disappointment occurs when expectations are not met before an event or outcome has even occurred.

For example, when a person is looking forward to a vacation, and it is cancelled, he/she may feel disappointment before the trip even took place.

(b).Relational disappointment: This type of disappointment occurs when expectations in a relationship are not met.

For example, when a person is expecting a friend to keep a promise, and they don’t, the person may feel disappointment.

(c).Self-disappointment: This type of disappointment occurs when expectations are not met by oneself.

For example, when a person sets a goal to lose weight and they don’t achieve it, they may feel disappointment in themselves.

(d).Collective disappointment: This type of disappointment occurs when an organisation, community or a group’s expectations are not met.

For example, when a team in a sports league lose a match, the fans may feel disappointment.

(e). Chronic disappointment: This type of disappointment occurs when a person experiences disappointment repeatedly and becomes desensitized to it.

They may start to expect disappointment and may have a negative outlook on life.

It’s important to note that everyone experiences and expresses disappointment differently, and these types are not mutually exclusive.

A person can experience multiple types of disappointment in one event or situation.

Possible solutions: There are several ways to deal with disappointment and to reduce its negative effects on one’s life.

Some solutions and treatments include:

(a).Managing expectations: One of the most effective ways to deal with disappointment is to manage expectations.

This can be done by being realistic about what can be achieved and by setting attainable goals.

(b).Reframing the situation: Instead of focusing on what has been lost or what went wrong, try to reframe the situation and focus on the opportunities or lessons that can be gained from it.

(c).Practicing self-compassion: Be kind and understanding towards oneself, instead of being self-critical.

One could try to remind oneself that disappointment is a normal part of life, and that everyone experiences it at some point.

(d).Engaging in activities that bring joy: Engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, such as hobbies, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.

(e).Seeking support: Talking to a friend, family member, or professional counsellor can be very helpful when dealing with disappointment. They can provide a listening ear, a different perspective, and support during difficult times.

(f). Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that helps people to change negative thought patterns, and learn to manage emotions in a healthier way.

Mindfulness practices can also be beneficial for managing disappointment, as it can help to focus on present moment and to let go of unmet expectations.

— The writer is Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, B N Mandal University, Madhepura, Bihar, India.