3 Steps in Managing Major Disappointment

Figuring out lightweight non-perishable food for a 17-mile hike in the middle of Yosemite for a gluten-free vegan isn’t the easiest task. After assembling multiple paleo-coconut wraps stuffed with raw sunflower seed butter, cacao nibs and buckwheat groats, I was finally ready to pack my backpack. I lined up the “sandwiches” next to the other food purchases I’d spent my “whole” (non-existent) paycheck on at Whole Foods. I hauled my camping gear from the garage to the front porch, from where I’d more easily be able to transfer it into my friend’s car at 3am. 8 hours to go until we were taking off for my first trip to Yosemite. That’s when I got the phone call. 

“Jordana, did you see the weather?”

The weather had turned from sun to rain, thunderstorms actually. And the forecast didn’t show a letting up for days. My heart sank. This was supposed to be my first trip as a “free” woman: three weeks prior I’d left my job that made trips like this hard to coordinate. I was excited to get my travel on, but Mother Nature said “No!” and I was mad at her.

In the scheme of things you might say it’s not such a big deal, Yosemite will still be there in a few weeks. Of course it will. And of course there are people who face much bigger losses than my loss of the first freedom trip I’d take. But, in the moment, these realizations didn't help that the feeling of disappointment went deep. 

Have you ever tried to say “Oh I’m not upset” about something you’re clearly upset about? Like when a date you were looking forward to turns out to be a disaster or you get stuck in traffic and miss the opening of a performance you paid top dollar for? “It’s no big deal,” You try to convince yourself, but it bubbles up and the feeling gets worse: it turns into resentment for whatever or whoever you deem to have caused you to be “not upset.”

So in the interest of feeling versus suffocating my disappointment this weekend, I learned a few things about managing the disappointment:

  1. Don’t suppress the feeling.  As described above, allow yourself feel it. If you have friends who are willing to listen, share it with them. Better yet, journal about it. Why are you disappointed? What were you seeking to experience? Journaling is a healthy way to help yourself articulate the desires without someone else possibly feeling uncomfortable with your upset feelings and not knowing how to comfort you. (They don’t have to comfort you, they just need to listen, but that’s a really hard thing to do, that’s why we pay shrinks: for their expertise in listening without the need to butt in with suggestions that make you feel worse).

  2. Seek out that experience you were after and create it in another way. I had to ask myself the question, “What was I longing for in this trip to Yosemite?” When I wrote it out I saw it added up to this: experiencing new nature, fostering a deeper connection with myself and taking a rest. I was able to create some of these feelings by driving to a hike I’d never done before and by starting a water fast. The new hike, while not the 17-miler I was hoping for, was still beautiful and the trail completely new to me. It’s now one I can add to my repertoire in Los Angeles. And the water fast? Well, that’s for another article, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for some time as a means to relax and reflect, but hadn’t made the time and space for it. Having this weekend fall through was an opportunity for me to rejuvenate myself through this practice.

  3. Be good to yourself. Do things that will make you happy. Make conscious choices about what it means to feel good in your mind and body. For me that has been the water fast paired with massage, yoga, nature and a ton of rest.

Know that every disappointment is worthy. There’s no shame in being disappointed. It’s how you manage the disappointment that can either build you up or tear you down.

I love you,

Jordana

Calabassas Peak in Los Angeles, a new one for me and a great spot to relax

Calabassas Peak in Los Angeles, a new one for me and a great spot to relax