Everyone, at least once in their lives, has suffered a disappointment. Maybe an online flirt that seemed promising, or a promising job interview, but in the end, it didn’t work out. Triggers for disappointments are always around us .

What is disappointment

Researchers describe it as a form of sadness, a sense of loss between our expectations and reality. When we believe that there is something we must have to be happy and satisfied, we can set ourselves up for disappointment. Although unpleasant, our experiences of disappointment provide valuable information about what will make us truly happy .

4 questions to ask yourself if you feel disappointed

The next time you feel disappointed, ask yourself these four questions to find what you really want and to be able to overcome the disappointment at the root of the problem.

1. What?

We believe that only one thing can make us happy. Exposure to media messages teaches us to associate happiness with certain things. So we can develop some pretty fixed ideas about what will make us happy. Then eventually we will train our minds to believe that we will only be happy if we achieve those things .

We mistakenly believe what is going to make us happy and when we fail, we are disappointed. Researchers have shown that there is no guarantee of happiness if you get the things you want . In fact, there is absolutely some evidence that the opposite can be true.

People’s satisfaction with things is very short. The experiences have a much more lasting effect on our overall happiness. The great benefit of this is that you can start enjoying the moment without spending and when you want. Focus on how you want to feel and you will be closer to being happy.

2. Who?

We believe that a certain person is the only one who can satisfy our wishes. A common misconception is that if we meet such a person, our whole life will be accommodated. We learn to associate a small number of positive personal attributes with many others, it is called the halo effect . For example, if we meet someone who is tall and handsome, then we likely believe that they possess other positive qualities (such as being rich, trustworthy, smart, sexy, and funny), but all we really know about that person is that he is tall and handsome. Thus we would be deeply disappointed when that person we place our hopes on does not meet our expectations .

The key is knowing how you want to feel and focusing on that rather than thinking about what the other person would be like. You may want to feel comfortable, interested, and engaged. So instead of thinking about what you would like to receive, think about being interesting, attractive and in a good mood.

3. When?

We set a time limit for how long it will take to get what we want. Our expectations about when things should happen are influenced by social norms. There are unspoken rules of how long it is supposed to take to reach a certain career or status goal. We often measure our success based on what our peers are doing , this is called social comparison .

If we miss these deadlines and see others reach their goals faster, we can be disappointed . It is important to remember that these time limits are self-imposed, somewhat arbitrary, and often unrealistic. The solution, again, is to remember how you want to feel. A better indicator of a successful outcome, when it occurs, is how you feel along the way.


We have fixed ideas about how everything will come together. Perhaps the hardest expectation to give up is the “how”. Once we have a wish, we often immediately begin to think of ways to go after it. If we don’t find a good way to get what we want, we can just give up right away and be disappointed.

In this case, it is important to distinguish between means and ends. That is, remembering what we need to do to get what we want, even when they seem like different things. Self-actualizing people generally have an uncanny ability to distinguish between means and ends. They are able to keep an eye on what they really want and remain open to various forms that may come at the same time.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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