Coping With Disappointment

When you are middle-aged or younger, stress and anxiety are often born out of career issues, a too-busy schedule, and the struggle to achieve a balance between work, family, and self. But for those past their career peaks, past having young kids at home, past having to worry about how to get everything done in a day, stress often comes in different shapes and forms. And one of those forms is disappointment — in how life turned out, how children turned out, how the fanciful dreams of youth never quite came to reality.

Too often people want to skim over the discomfort associated with disappointment, says Leslie Levine, president of Life Integration Concepts and the author of Wish It, Dream It, Do It: Turn the Life You’re Living Into the Life You Want, yet it’s a normal and to-be-expected emotion. So don’t ignore it. Understanding what you’re disappointed about and why you’re disappointed can be a wonderful learning experience. For instance, if you’re disappointed in other people’s behavior, perhaps you need to examine your expectations. Or if you’re disappointed that you never became the doctor you always thought you’d be, maybe it’s time to consider some kind of second career in health care.

What you don’t want to do is become immobilized with disappointment, she says. So don’t gloss over the emotion. Instead, sit with it and learn from it.

Ultimately, experts say, the trick is to forgive the past, have hope for the future, but to live in the present. Make today an outstanding day. Make tomorrow even better. Never give up on making new friends, learning something new, pursuing a dream, starting right now. With such an attitude, there’s much less room in your life for disappointment and its negative health effects.

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