3 Steps To Get Over Life’s Epic Disappointments

When things don’t turn out the way you hoped, it may seem like the end of the world. Don’t let disappointment define you, or get you down.

3 Steps To Get Over Life’s Epic Disappointments
[Photo: Flickr user quattrostagioni]

We’ve all been there. Whether you’ve been passed over for a promotion, rejected by a significant other, or your best friend is getting married and asks you to distribute programs, we’ve all wanted something and not gotten it.


How do you get over it? We asked several experts for their best tips for getting over disappointment. Here’s what they shared:

1. It’s Okay To Feel Down For A Little While

It’s your pity party, and you’ll sulk if you want to. That’s okay–as long as you’re conscious of your wallowing, and know you’ll move on when it’s time, says Beth Buelow, a Tacoma, Washington-based professional coach and creator of The Introvert Entrepreneur podcast.

Feeling disappointed is valuable information, she says, because it tells you that it’s something important to you, and helps you decide whether to try again.

2. Choose To Have Choices

“Who’s to say that your first choice is really the best path?” says Scott Hammond, a management professor at Utah State University and author of Lessons of the Lost: Finding Hope and Resilience in Work, Life, and the Wilderness. “If you are disappointed with not getting your first choice, try the second, third, fourth, and so on. You may find things turn out better than you expected.”

In his spare time, Hammond and his golden retriever volunteer with Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs, a search and rescue organization assisting law enforcement to find missing people.

“Everyone I interviewed [for the book] who had been lost in work, life, or in the wilderness, said it was a time of exceptional learning,” Hammond says. “Resilience is a choice, so is disappointment.”


3. Reframe Your Perspective

“Disappointment is part of pursuing a goal,” says B. Michelle Pippin, founder of Women Who Wow, a Virginia-based business development organization for women entrepreneurs. “The top strategy I share with my clients about disappointment is to expect it . . . know that it means nothing other than the fact that you’re in pursuit of a worthy goal,” Pippin says.

Another way to look at disappointment is through what researchers call “retroactive pessimism,” or rewriting history to turn a sure thing into a long shot.

“Disappointment is a response to getting something less than you had hoped for or expected,” says Kate Sweeny, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. “Employees passed over for a position will be far more disappointed if they believed they were a shoo-in than if they knew the promotion was a long shot.”

Even after disappointment strikes, people can capitalize on this phenomenon to get over the setback by convincing themselves that the unfortunate outcome was, in fact, inevitable, she adds. “It may not entirely remove the sting of bad news, but this strategy can mitigate the additional blow of feeling caught off guard,” Sweeny says.

About the author

Lindsay LaVine is a Chicago-based business and lifestyle freelance writer who's worked for NBC and CNN. Her work has appeared online in,,, NBC News, MSNBC, Yahoo, Business Insider, and Fox Business.