Dealing with Disappointment as We Age

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Candi Randolph

Do you remember when you were a little girl, and you’d been promised a trip to the ice cream parlor? You could already taste the creamy vanilla goodness, and feel the sticky sweetness on your fingers. But then, something happened—maybe it rained, or the car broke down, or like me, you took one lick and the ice cream plopped out of the cone and onto the sidewalk — and your promised treat evaporated into thin air. Do you remember how that felt? That sinking feeling in your stomach, that pang in your heart? That, my dear friends, was your first encounter with disappointment.

As we journey from childhood to womanhood, and now into the glorious era of midlife, disappointments are as inevitable as those laugh lines we’ve earned along the way (I prefer to call them ‘smile lines’, don’t you?). They come in all shapes and sizes—the missed opportunities, the unmet expectations, the plans that didn’t pan out.

Disappointment is much like an old photograph. It’s a snapshot of a moment when our expectations didn’t align with reality. It’s that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs when things don’t go as planned. And as we journey through midlife, it sometimes feels like these photographs are piling up, creating an album titled “Disappointments.”

dealing with disappointment as we age

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? From small letdowns like a canceled lunch date to more significant life-altering situations like a failed relationship or a career setback. Disappointment, as unwelcome as it may be, is a part of life. But how does it affect us? And more importantly, how do we go about dealing with disappointment as we age?

In this blog post, we’re going to unravel the threads of disappointment. We’ll delve into its definition, exploring not just its dictionary meaning, but also its personal and emotional implications. We’ll then look at how it impacts us, particularly as women navigating the rich tapestry of midlife.

But here’s the most crucial part – we won’t stop at just defining and understanding disappointment. No, we’ll go a step further. I will share with you five practical, tried-and-tested ways to work through and overcome disappointment. These coping strategies are not just theoretical concepts, but tools forged from personal experiences and historical wisdom, designed to help us live our midlife years with grace, resilience, and joy.

So, let’s embark on this journey together, shall we? Let’s turn the pages of our disappointment album and transform them into stepping stones toward growth, personal development, and self-discovery.

What is Disappointment?

You’ve seen it, felt it, and probably even tasted it. Disappointment. That bitter cocktail of sadness, frustration, and defeat that leaves a sour aftertaste in our mouths. But what exactly is this emotion that’s like an uninvited guest at the party of life?

Disappointment, my friend, is the gap between expectation and reality. It’s that chasm that forms when what we hope for and what we actually get don’t match up.

Picture this: you’ve spent weeks planning a grand family reunion, dreaming of laughter, shared memories, and that warm, fuzzy feeling of togetherness. But on the day, the chicken gets burnt, Uncle Joe picks a fight with Aunt Mary, and the kids are more interested in their phones than Grandma’s stories.

That sinking feeling you get? That’s a disappointment.

And as women gracefully journeying through the golden years of life, we’ve had our fair share of disappointments. Remember the time your meticulously baked soufflé collapsed right before the dinner party? Or when your adult children forgot your birthday?

Perhaps it was the time you planned a romantic getaway with your spouse, only for him to be more interested in the golf course than the sunset views. These moments, as personal as they are, resonate with all of us because they’re woven into the fabric of our shared human experience.

But here’s the thing. Disappointment isn’t a life sentence. It’s not a storm that drowns us but a rain shower that can nourish growth. Let’s learn how to dance in the rain!

How Disappointment Affects Us as We Get Older

Research indicates a fascinating link between age and emotional well-being. As per the Smithsonian Magazine, Psychologist Susan Turk Charles talks about findings that reveal older individuals have better control over their emotions. This implies that as we age, we may become better equipped at handling feelings of disappointment compared to our younger selves.

But what makes this possible? It’s our life experiences. Each event, each setback, and each triumph has taught us valuable lessons. We’ve learned that disappointment is not the end of the world but merely a detour on the road of life.

We’ve learned to adjust our sails when the winds change, and this resilience helps us navigate through disappointments more effectively as we age.

However, the relationship between aging and disappointment isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. As women, we often internalize emotions like sadness and disappointment more than men. The impact of early career disappointments can even ripple into our later years, affecting our sense of well-being.

Interestingly, midlife brings with it its unique set of challenges. Researchers have found that happiness often dips in midlife before rebounding as we age. This dip, sometimes labeled as a ‘midlife crisis,’ can make us more susceptible to feeling disappointed, especially when life doesn’t meet our expectations.

So, yes, disappointment does affect us differently as we age. But remember ladies, with age comes wisdom. With every passing year, we’re getting better at learning how to handle disappointment and turning these experiences into stepping stones for growth. Because we’re not just aging; we’re evolving!

5 Ways of Dealing with Disappointment as We Age

5 ways to deal with disappointment as we get older

1 | Rein in the expectations

Picture this – you’re flipping through a glossy home décor magazine, mesmerized by the picture-perfect living rooms, the pristine kitchens, and those dreamy, cloud-like beds.

Inspired, you decide to give your own humble abode a makeover. You imagine sipping coffee in your chic new living room, the smell of fresh paint mingling with the aroma of the brew. But when the renovation is done, your reality doesn’t quite match the magazine images etched in your mind. The disappointment sets in, a bitter pill to swallow.

Now, let’s flip the script. What if we could rewrite this story? What if we could manage our expectations from the get-go?

You see, managing expectations is not about curbing our dreams or settling for less. It’s about embracing realism. It’s acknowledging that life isn’t a glossy magazine spread but a beautifully imperfect tapestry woven with threads of triumphs, trials, and yes, disappointments. It’s about acknowledging that you may have created some unrealistic expectations.

Just think back to your younger years. Remember expecting your first child? The joy, the anticipation, the dreams of what motherhood would be like. Then came the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the constant worry.

Reality didn’t quite match expectations, did it? But here’s the thing – those challenges didn’t make motherhood any less beautiful. They made it real. And they made us stronger.

As we age, we’ve been gifted with the wisdom of experience. We’ve learned that not every day will be sunshine and rainbows, and that’s okay. This wisdom allows us to manage our expectations, making us more resilient in the face of disappointment.

So, the next time you’re planning a family reunion, instead of imagining a flawless event straight out of a movie scene, anticipate some hiccups. Expect Uncle Joe to tell his corny jokes, the kids to be glued to their phones, and yes, even the chicken might get a little crispy.

But guess what? When we manage our expectations, we make room for reality, and often, the reality is far more beautiful and rewarding than our wildest dreams.

Let’s remember, as women gracefully journeying through midlife, we have the power to redefine our expectations, embrace reality, and thereby, soften the blow of disappointment.

2 | Verbalize the disappointment

Now, you might be wondering, “Verbalizing disappointment? Isn’t that just complaining?” No, friends, far from it. Verbalizing our disappointments isn’t about dwelling on the negatives or wallowing in self-pity. It’s about expressing our feelings, acknowledging our emotions, and opening up a dialogue with ourselves and others.

Think back to a time when you felt disappointed. Perhaps it was when your homemade lasagna didn’t turn out quite as you’d hoped, despite following the recipe to a T. Or maybe it was when your long-awaited vacation plans fell through at the last minute. Remember that sinking feeling, the knot in your stomach, the sour taste of defeat?

Now, imagine sharing that feeling with a trusted friend or loved one. Imagine their empathetic nod, their comforting words, their reassuring hand on your shoulder. Suddenly, your disappointment feels a little less daunting, doesn’t it?

Verbalization is a powerful tool. By putting our feelings into words, we acknowledge them, understand them, and take the first step toward overcoming them.

As women gracefully navigating the golden years, we have the wisdom and courage to face our disappointments head-on and in a healthy way. We know that every cloud has a silver lining, and every disappointment is an opportunity for growth.

But the benefits of verbalizing our disappointments don’t stop there. It also fosters empathy, understanding, and connection with others. Because disappointment, much like joy, love, and laughter, is a shared human experience.

And by sharing our disappointments, we remind ourselves and others that we’re not alone. We’re in this together.

3 | Accept the reality and reframe your thinking

Imagine this: You’re standing at the edge of a beautiful lake, the setting sun painting the sky with hues of gold and crimson. You’ve planned a peaceful evening of fishing. Yes, fishing. Stay with me here. You’ve got your gear, your favorite hat, and a thermos of hot coffee.

But as you cast your line, the serene silence is disrupted by a sudden downpour. The rain, uninvited and unexpected, has washed away your plans. Disappointment sets in.

But what if we took a step back? What if we looked at the rain not as a spoiler of our plans but as a part of the beautiful, unpredictable symphony of nature?

This, my friends, is the power of acceptance and reframing our thinking.

As we navigate through the winding path of life, especially as we age, we encounter various forms of disappointment. The missed opportunities, the unmet expectations, the dreams that didn’t take flight. It’s natural to feel a sense of loss, a pang of regret. But here’s an empowering thought—what if we could look at these disappointments not as roadblocks but as guides on our journey?

Acceptance is the first step. It’s about acknowledging the reality of the situation, and recognizing our feelings of disappointment without judgment or resistance. It’s like saying to ourselves, “Yes, this situation isn’t what I hoped for. Yes, I feel disappointed. And that’s okay.”

Remember, acceptance isn’t about resignation. It’s not about giving up or admitting defeat. Rather, it’s about understanding that life, in all its glorious unpredictability, won’t always align with our expectations. It’s about giving ourselves permission to feel disappointed without letting the disappointment define us.

Once we’ve accepted the reality, we can then work on reframing our thinking. This is where the magic happens.

Reframing is about shifting our perspective, looking at the situation through a different lens. It’s about finding the silver lining, the lesson, and the opportunity for growth. Going back to our lake scenario, reframing would be about enjoying the rhythm of the rain, the freshness in the air, and the chance to sit back and enjoy nature’s unplanned spectacle.

Disappointment, when viewed through the lens of acceptance and reframing, loses its sting. It becomes a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block. It becomes a part of our story, adding depth and richness to our life tapestry.

4 | Have a Plan ‘B’

As we journey through life, especially as we age, we encounter various forms of disappointment. The missed opportunities, the unmet expectations, the plans that didn’t pan out. It’s natural to feel a sense of loss, a pang of regret.

But here’s an empowering thought—what if we could soften the blow of these disappointments with a well-thought-out ‘Plan B’?

Having a ‘Plan B’ is like having a safety net. It gives us the confidence to take risks, to chase our dreams, knowing that even if things don’t work out as planned, we have another path to explore.

Remember, ‘Plan B’ isn’t about settling for less. It’s about being prepared, being adaptable. It’s a recognition of the fact that life, in all its glorious unpredictability, won’t always align with our expectations. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of it.

Think back to some of the disappointments in your life. Now imagine if you had a ‘Plan B’ in place. Would the disappointment have been easier to handle? Would you have been able to bounce back quicker? I bet the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

‘Plan B’ also encourages us to think outside the box, to explore multiple paths towards our goals. It opens our minds to new possibilities, new adventures.

5 | Be grateful

Gratitude, my friends, is like a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day. It illuminates the positives in our life, the blessings we often take for granted. It helps us see the glass as half full, not half empty.

Think about it. So you didn’t get the job promotion. But you still have a job that pays your bills and challenges you. Your vacation got canceled. But you’re safe at home, and now you have the opportunity to explore local attractions or enjoy a cozy staycation.

Adopting an attitude of gratitude doesn’t mean ignoring our feelings of disappointment or pretending everything is perfect. It’s about acknowledging our disappointments and then choosing to focus on the positives. It’s about celebrating what we have, rather than mourning what we don’t.

Research has shown that gratitude can boost our mood, improve our health, and enhance our overall quality of life. It’s like a magic potion that transforms our perspective, making us happier, more content, and more resilient in the face of disappointment.

Can Disappointment be a Good Thing for Us to Experience?

how disappointment can be a positive thing for us to experience

Here’s a thought to ponder—could feeling disappointment actually be a positive thing for us to experience?

I know what you’re thinking—”Positive? How can disappointment, with its bitter taste and gloomy aura, be anything but negative?” Well, let’s put on our exploration hats and venture into this unexpected perspective.

First off, let’s not forget that we are all human, beautifully imperfect beings, navigating through the complex maze of life. Disappointment is as much a part of our journey as joy, success, and love. It’s an emotion that reminds us we’re alive, capable of feeling deeply, and invested in our dreams and aspirations.

But here’s where the magic really happens. Disappointment, if faced with courage and wisdom, can be a powerful catalyst for growth. It’s like nature’s way of pruning a tree. The process might be painful, but it’s necessary for new growth.

When we experience disappointment, we’re given an opportunity to reassess and readjust. We can look at our expectations, our actions, and our reactions. Were our expectations realistic? Did we give it our best shot? Could we have reacted differently? This introspective process can lead to invaluable insights about ourselves and our approach to life.

Moreover, disappointment has the potential to build resilience. Each time we face disappointment and bounce back, we become a little stronger, a little more robust. We learn that we can survive the storm and come out shining on the other side. We learn that life doesn’t end with disappointment—it evolves.

Lastly, disappointment can open doors to new possibilities. Think about it. When one door closes (often leaving us disappointed), another opens. But we may not see the open door if we’re too busy staring at the closed one.

So, yes, experiencing disappointment can indeed be a positive thing. It’s not about glorifying pain or struggle, but about recognizing the potential for growth and transformation that lies within these challenging moments.

Our Faith and Dealing with Disappointment

Disappointment can be a powerful catalyst for growth, especially when we lean on our faith in God during these challenging times. I know that it can be hard to see and understand why things happen the way the do.

We can draw strength from our faith in the Lord when disappointment knocks on our door. Remember, God sees the bigger picture that we often miss. He uses our disappointments to shape us, to mold us, and to prepare us for the blessings He has in store.

So next time you’re faced with disappointment, take a moment. Breathe. Pray. Trust in God’s plan. You are not alone. Your disappointments are not roadblocks, they’re merely detours leading you to the path He has in store for you.

When it’s time to ask for help

You know, life is a bit like that one drawer in your kitchen. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s filled with everything from spare buttons to old receipts, tangled earphones to random bits of string. It’s a beautiful mess—just like our lives!

But sometimes, this “beautiful mess” can feel a bit too messy. Disappointments pile up, like those darn Tupperware lids that never seem to match the containers. You’re trying to keep your chin up and dance through the rain, but your dancing shoes are feeling a little tight. You’ve tried acceptance, reframing, gratitude, even had a ‘Plan B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’, but the disappointment blues just won’t let go.

So, how do you know when it’s time to call in the professionals? When do you reach out to a mental health professional? Here are a few signs:

  1. You’re feeling down more often than not. We all have our off days, right? Days when we feel like a deflated balloon. But if your balloon is stuck in the ‘deflated’ mode for a prolonged period, it might be time to seek help.
  2. Your favorite activities no longer bring you joy. Remember when you used to love gardening? Or baking those delicious chocolate chip cookies? But now, they just feel like chores. If things that once made you feel good are losing their charm, it might be time to talk to a professional.
  3. Your sleep or appetite has changed dramatically. Are you sleeping too much or too little? Eating too much or too little? Our bodies have a way of telling us when something’s off. Listen to them!
  4. You’re withdrawing from friends and family. If you find yourself avoiding social gatherings or pulling away from loved ones, it’s a sign that you might need help.
  5. You’re feeling hopeless or having thoughts of self-harm. This is a big one, ladies. If you’re feeling a sense of hopelessness or having thoughts of self-harm, please reach out to a mental health professional immediately.

Remember, to seek professional help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. It’s about acknowledging that you’re human, that you need support. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

every day is a blessing

Conclusion: Dealing with Disappointment as We Age

The next time disappointment comes knocking at your door, welcome it as an old friend. Sit with it, learn from it, and then let it go, knowing you’re wiser and stronger because of it. Remember, we’re not just journeying through life; we’re growing, evolving, and transforming with every step.

Are you ready to embrace the positive power of disappointment? Let’s embark on this transformative journey together!

Like this post? Share it!

5 ways to deal with disappointment as we age

2 thoughts on “Dealing with Disappointment as We Age”

  1. Your blog has so much meaning for me. I am old and I can feel my health slowly leaving. It is disappointing, but I learned to be grateful for the small things, like my apartment and the Thanksgiving gathering soon. They all won’t be there but I can enjoy who are there. I am home-bound but I can pray right here. I read this on Sunday which really helps. Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top