Dealing with Disappointment

Eight ways to master the art of dealing with disappointment.


People at all stages and from all walks of life have had to learn to manage change like never before this year, and, sadly, many of us may find ourselves also needing to learn to manage disappointment.

Almost every Teams call around the country right now begins with, ‘So, what holiday did you cancel?’. We can dismiss it as a ‘first world problem’ but the nation’s workforce is grappling with the reality of annual holidays being cancelled, postponed and curtailed on a scale not seen before in our lifetimes.

Especially if you’ve been working through furlough, especially if you’d booked your dream holiday a year or two ago, especially if lockdown had you locked down in a small space with too many people, especially if lockdown forced you into a lonely lockdown, especially if you had a wedding planned… Especially if… anything.

We all had plans. Holidays and other life events to look forward to. They’re important to anchor our worlds and the disappointment at these highlights being whipped away – no matter how valid the reason – is a bitter pill to swallow.

To help manage this strange summer, take a look at our list of 8 ways to deal with disappointment. 

Manage Expectations

“The times they are a changin’”. Well that’s for sure. When it’s hard to know what your world is going to be like more than a week or two ahead, it makes it difficult to manage expectations, especially if they’re set super high. Recalibrating expectations and setting them at a lower more achievable level for the current times, means these will hopefully be met and enable you to feel empowered through these low-hanging-fruit achievements.

Look for Positives & Perspective

If you’ve just cancelled your dream holiday, wedding or milestone party, it’s obviously going to be disappointing, but as the old adage goes, by counting your blessings you can find something good to feel good about. We’re not being glib, but so many have suffered so much recently – and still are, it’s important to keep events in perspective, so our own life challenges don’t become overwhelming or all-consuming.

Reframe the Picture

This is a well-document coaching strategy that can often prove helpful in seeing any situation from a different perspective. It takes practice but changing the meaning of an event or experience can be very useful in reducing disappointment.

Focus on Something Else

If you were consumed by the prospect of your holiday or nuptials, why not introduce something else to fill the void. Keeping busy is key to distracting your brain away from the disappointment. Is there a passion project you can take up, a course you’d always wanted to do or even learn a language?


We all know the benefits of exercise and the outdoors. While you may be tempted to curl up with Netflix and a box of comfort-chocs, that most probably won’t help you feel better. Pushing yourself to go for a run, walk or cycle will stimulate the endorphins and help you feel less glum as well as giving you a sense of achievement.

Look for Alternatives

If you had your heart set on a big white wedding, coming to terms with where the world is now may be hard, but could you instead make it a longer, more spread out celebration with a series of smaller, more intimate gatherings where you can speak properly to the people you invite.

Plan Ahead

Bearing in mind the need to manage expectations, it’s important to have things to look forward to. That’s why holidays are so important. Try and create short term, simple and easily achievable wins to look forward to that will make you happy like seeing a friend for coffee in a café, as well as aiming for longer-term, bigger plans. Consider a household ‘pot of ideas’ – where each time you think of something you want to do but can’t because of the current situation, put it in the pot to do once we reach the post-pandemic world.

And finally,

Expect and Plan for the Worst (but Hope for the Best) – This way, if and when the worst does happen, you’ll be mentally prepared and have a back-up plan already in place, which will help relieve some of the disappointment and stress at last minute planning upsets.