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Disappointment -
How to handle disappointing outcomes

How Disappointment is Handled is Important
     When someone is unable to achieve the expectations established by others or themselves, the emotional state is described as one of feeling disappointment. Everyone experiences some form of disappoint that can range from minor to major events in their life. The responses to disappointment can range from being able to deal with the event(s) to being unable to get ones life back on track.

     Disappointment has as much to do with reality as it has to do with a person's perception of the events. Putting a disappointing event in perspective is an important step to use the event as an opportunity to achieve something positive. For example:

  • A student who consistently earns outstanding grades may be very disappointed when another student earns a higher grade.  Even if someone else earns a higher grade this does not diminish the accomplishments of another person.
  • An athlete who places last may be very pleased to have qualified to enter the competition, while another who places second experiences extreme disappointment because their were expecting a first place.

Change Expectations to Avoid Disappointment
     Some people attempt to change from being optimists to being pessimists just to avoid disappointment. This is not a solution, it is an attempt to escape confronting the underlying causes of the problem.

     Dealing successfully with disappointment requires a "Pre-emptive Defense" of learning how to establish a positive way of thinking and being surrounded with a support system which cultivates self-esteem and confidence. Reasonable and measurable goals must be established to avoid experiencing high stress and frustration levels.

     Many coaches and teachers try to instill the idea of progress and pride in achieving "A Personal Best" rather than comparison to other individuals. Unfortunately many people in sports define success as "Winning At Any Cost!"

Disappointment and Depression
     Disappointment can signal a serious downward spiral into depression in some individuals while others are able to quickly bounce back from their disappointment. Recognizing that dealing with disappointment is an important step for preventing depression. Preventing the establishment of false beliefs is critical prevention tool.   Refer to Limiting Beliefs.

Dealing with Disappointment
     The following types of personalities who commonly experience disappointment:
  • Perfectionists live in an imaginary world of their making. They believe that it is their right to achieve perfection. A perfectionist gets disappointed when they get a B instead of A but the real problem is that they get angry when they get 99 instead of a 100.
  • Overconfidence will cause disappointment because due to the establishment of unreasonable exceptions that result in disappointment when things don't work out as expected. Individuals who embrace extremes generally are able to face problems. For example, a shy person will usually stay within their comfort zone, but never challenges them self, while the overconfident individual is usually disappointed because unrealistic expectations has set them up for failure.
  • Setting unrealistic goals sets the individual up to fail. Extremely high expectations or setting of unrealistic goals, such as setting a goal to earn a spot on the Olympic team in three months, will cause considerable pain and disappointment to the athlete.
  • Rejection or failure usually is rooted in a false idea about what rejection or failure means. Failure can be viewed as feedback that sends a signal to make changes, try hardier, or develop a more flexible attitude. Succeeding in anything requires the willingness to attempt new things and understand that the road to success is paved with pot holes. Perseverance helps in overcoming obstacles and attaining a dream.
      The creation of a backup plan can make an athlete or student feel more secure and helps to reduce the pain and disappointment if things don't go according to the primary plan, especially if something unexpected and unfortunate happens.

Recommended Reading:

How to Bounce Back From Disappointment
One of the most essential attributes of a mentally tough athlete is resiliency. Triathletes experience a gamut of emotions before, during and after practice and competitive events.

PDF Disappointment Aug   The disappointment that those athletes felt must have been enormous. If disappointment is not dealt with in an appropriate way, it can lead to bitterness, resentment, doubt, and many other damaging emotions and behaviors. The way you respond to disappointment is more important than the disappointment itself.

10 Tips Sports Parents Should Know to Help Kids Get over disappointment    May 17, 2010  Most kids who are average players will often experience as much disappointment as they do athletic success.

Parents/Coaches Guides - 13 Steps to Being a Winning Parent   If you want your child to come out of his youth sports experience feeling a winner ... You are a vital and important part of the coach-athlete-parent team. ... The athlete wants to hear from you after a disappointing performance or loss is an expression of unconditional love, not disgust, anger and withdrawal of love and approval.

Dealing With Defeat - Coach and Athletic Director  Dealing with defeat from a perspective of a coach and Athletic Director. Turn defeat into a positive learning experience, beginning with the post-game talk. ... don't waste time spewing your frustration and disappointment at your players and staff!


Developing Personality and Character Traits


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

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