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This post originally appeared on AddictionBlog.org


“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” Unknown

For me, disappointment is one of life’s most uncomfortable feelings. It’s complex, containing a subset of conflicting emotions like:

  • anger
  • hurt
  • sadness

…and probably many others too subtle to identify. Sometimes, those emotions by themselves are easier to deal with, but disappointment can leave me at a loose end. I might not be sure whether I should feel angry, or just impatiently wish that I would hurry up and get over it.

Disappointment can hover at the front of your mind and niggle at the back, bringing you a grey perspective on life, even if you’re trying to forget about it. Although disappointment manifests itself in different ways, the root feeling is human in us all. And for that reason, I’ve come to develop four ways you can manage disappointment in addiction recovery and ultimately move past its cloying hands into a place of acceptance.

1. Let it out.

One of the hardest things to do in a world where everything is immediate – we are all under external pressure, and time is a scarce resource – is to just let yourself experience a feeling such as grieving or sadness. Even at the most difficult times, on average we only allow ourselves 1 to 2 weeks off of work, and then we mostly expect to get back into normality again.

Human beings are not very good at allowing the experiencing of emotions in full without trying to speed up the process. We don’t want to feel the difficult ones, so we push them aside. The only time we have this ability in its purest sense is when we are young children who have yet to be told or taught what is socially acceptable. Children will tantrum and cry and scream, or laugh until it runs out and they are genuinely ready to move on.

Adults? Not so.

I’m not suggesting we lock ourselves away for weeks at a time whenever we have been disappointed, but simply to be aware of any sense of obligation to “just get over it,” and instead allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling without any agenda of speeding up the process. Whatever you are feeling is okay. Take some time to just sit with your emotion and experience it without moving to fix or change it.

Genuinely experiencing emotions, no matter how painful, is one of the beauties of life. Don’t shy away from these moments. Be present in them.

2. Get some perspective.

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