How People Cope with Disappointment

Disappointment is an emotion that every human will experience at one time or another. Life is unpredictable and things do not always work out as planned. People differ in the way they react to disappointment. Some will respond to it by becoming motivated to do better next time. Others want to give up. It is vital that those who are recovering from an addiction learn how to deal appropriately with this emotion. Otherwise it could be an obstacle in life that drives them back towards alcohol and drugs.

Disappointment Defined

Disappointment from the French word desapointer, meaning to remove from office. It has come to denote a feeling of dissatisfaction that people experience when things do not go as planned. It is a completely subjective emotion, and people will differ in how they experience it. Some individuals have a very low threshold for disappointment.

Reasons for Disappointment in Recovery

The most common reasons for disappointment in recovery follow:

* Actions have not produced the expected outcome.
* Life in recovery is more challenging than the individual anticipated.
* Progress in recovery appears to be slow.
* The individual has not managed to live up to their own expectations.
* Other people do not behave as expected. For example, those in early sobriety may feel disappointed if family and friends have not made more of a fuss over their achievement.
* Role models do not live up to expectations.
* Predictions about the future do not come to pass.

Disappointment and Unrealistic Expectations

One of the most common reasons why people experience disappointment in recovery is that they have unrealistic expectations. Many addicts develop the notion that once they escape alcohol or drug abuse, their life will become instantly perfect. They fail to realize that recovery is a process and not an event. It can take many years before the individual is fully able to enjoy the type of life they yearn for. Things do get much better when people quit their addiction, but it is only the beginning of the process. Those individuals who have unrealistic expectations of what lies ahead are just setting themselves up for disappointment.

Sobriety After the Pink Cloud

Those who manage to escape an addiction have good reason to be full of joy. It is like they have just removed a millstone form their neck that was dragging them down to the deepest debts of despair. Early recovery can be a highly emotional time. Some people hit a patch that is known as the _pink cloud_. This is a state of mind in which people become so joyful that they lose touch with reality. Suddenly, staying sober is easy, and the individual will be unable to see anything other than good things in their future. The danger with pink cloud syndrome is that, when it ends, people often feel a sense of disappointment. These feeling can be so intense that they lose their faith in recovery and relapse back to addiction. They hit the earth with such force that they are unable to recover from it. Most of those who caution about the pink could do not do so because they are killjoys but because of the real danger that it can lead to real disappointment.

The Danger of Disappointment in Addiction Recovery

Disappointment can be dangerous in recovery because:

* The individual may feel so let down that they decide recovery is no longer worth the effort. They instead relapse back to alcohol and drug abuse. This is unfortunate, as they would likely have obtained what they were after if they persisted in recovery.
* Disappointed people can fail to see all the good things in their life. By focusing on the positive they could be happier.
* People blame others when they feel disappointed. This can put a strain on relationships.
* Negative emotions like disappointment can drain energy levels.
* Disappointment increases stress levels. If these become too high, the individual may feel like they are unable to cope. They may then be tempted to return to their maladaptive coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.

Dealing with Disappointment in Recovery

These are some of the actions that people can take to help them deal with disappointment in recovery:

* Keeping a gratitude journal can be highly effective as a means of combating disappointment. It records all the things in life that the individual has to be grateful for. This can be a great resource for people to turn to when they are suffering the internal discomfort of disappointment.
* Writing about the disappointment in a journal can be a good way to vent.
* If people see disappointment as an opportunity to learn, then this emotion can benefit their life. The individual will work harder to ensure improved outcome in the future. It can act as an effective motivator.
* Assessing expectations to ensure that they are realistic is important. This does not mean setting the bar too low. The individual who escapes alcohol and drugs can achieve amazing things when they put their mind to it.
* Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful technique, because it helps practitioners become less dominated by emotions. Those who have developed a mindfulness practice tend to find emotions such as disappointment much easier to deal with.
* When people feel disappointed, it can be a great help to talk to other people about these feelings. Just vocalizing them can reduce the inner turmoil. Those who belong to a 12 Step group might decide to share their hurt at a meeting or in a one to one with a sponsor. Other people may just decide to talk with a close friend.
* Some people experience disappointment so intensely that it begins to interfere with their normal functioning. In such a situation it may be beneficial to speak to a therapist.
* Looking at the big picture can help people come to terms with negative feelings. It is helpful to remember that disappointments are a part of life. They are soon forgotten.