Dec 30

6 Tips for Dealing with Disappointment


Ice Storm 2013

Welcome back! Or perhaps I should welcome myself back. I’ve been offline and without power or phone service for a few days thanks to a massive ice storm that attacked the state of Maine.

You may have seen some of the footage of the ice and snow on the national news. Long story, short the damage was (and still is) pretty bad. Heavy ice snapped big trees like twigs and took down power lines, leaving over a hundred thousand households without power during below zero weather.

When I posted on 23rd, I said I was thankful we’d made it up to Maine and still had power. I believe my exact words were, “Iโ€™m super grateful that we still have power because I have (not so fond) memories of the ice storm of 1998, when we lost power for 2 weeks (not exactly the way I imagine spending Christmas this year!).” and apparently I’d spoken too soon.

3 degrees at 2pm!

3 degrees at 2pm!

Shortly after that post was published we lost power and didn’t regain it again until Thursday night. Thankfully my parents have a generator, so we were able to run our furnace to stay warm and take a quick shower. Sadly, many people don’t have generators (or maybe couldn’t afford the gas) and ended up in makeshift shelters on Christmas.

When we attended church Christmas morning, the priest asked individuals without power to raise their hands. Not surprisingly, more than half of the parishioners in attendance raised their hands. He then asked how many people had to change their holiday plans because of the storm. Again, hands were raised. In that moment, I felt bad for myself, but I felt worse for others who weren’t as fortunate. While we were warm, and comfortable in my parent’s home, many people were cold, hungry and scared in their dark, iced-in houses. So, instead of sitting around pouting, I decided to put together a post with a few tips for dealing with disappointment.

6 Tips for Dealing with Disappointment:

  1. Remember things will get better. When you’re in the middle of a difficult situation it’s hard to keep a positive outlook. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always a, “glass half-full” thinker, but during difficult times, negative thinking won’t get you where you want to be. During the ice storm it felt like we were going to be without power forever. I was annoyed, sad and frustrated. But I just kept trying to remind myself that, “tomorrow is a new day” and things will get better with time.
  2. Stop stressing about things that you can’t control. I’m the type of person who loves to schedule everything. I’d already planned exactly what I’d do each day on vacation. Pre-Christmas shopping with my mom on the 23rd, baking on the 24th and the Christmas dinner we’d make on the 25th. Once I realized I was going to have to change all of those plans, I was able to relax a little bit. Not having power was completely out of my control and there was nothing I could do to change that.
  3. Cry. No seriously! Sometimes a good cry can completely change my outlook. Christmas eve at about midnight I had a mini “freakout.” I didn’t feel well (partially from eating far too much pie and junk food) and I was super stressed out. I went downstairs to find my step-dad just getting home from work (he’s a supervisor for the State highway department and every time it snows he has to supervise a crew of plow truck drivers). I burst into tears when I saw him and he reassured me everything would be OK. I cried for about 5 minutes and then I was able to relax enough to back to my room and fall asleep.
  4. Complain. Complaining might not “fix” the problem, but expressing the disappointment to others (in a healthy way and within reason of course. An all day bitch session doesn’t really solve anything and may make you feel worse) may help you move on. Christmas day my whole family complained for about 20 minutes about how much the ice storm sucked and how crappy it was that it kept us from getting together on Christmas eve. My mom complained that we couldn’t use the toaster in the morning and I complained I couldn’t blow-dry my hair. Bf complained he couldn’t use the microwave to heat up his coffee in the morning and my step-dad complained he had to work 18 hours a day for 4 straight days (his complaint was by far the most legit-poor guy!).
  5. Be thankful for what has gone “right”. We were able to spend Christmas day with my grandparents. The roads were clear on Christmas morning so we were able to make it to church. We were still able to make Christmas dinner and enjoy it together as a family. I’m very grateful for those “good” moments among all the bad.
  6. Remember things could be worse. Everyone has heard this before at some point in their life, but I feel like it’s really a good tip. No matter how bad things are going for you, things are far worse for someone else. I didn’t get to make some of my favorite Christmas treats, or visit with my grandparents as much as I would have liked, but I did have heat and hot water and I wasn’t cold or hungry. Our pipes didn’t freeze and we had a safe and comfortable place to stay during the storm.

ย Have you dealt with any recent disappointments? How did you handle them?



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  1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial

    Great post, especially considering not everyone has a picture-perfect holiday. I’m glad you included “cry” on the list, too – often a good cry seems to work for me! Gets all the bad stuff out or something like that ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you all were able to stay warm with the help of your parents’ generator! Thank goodness they had that!

    1. KK

      I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect (esp around the holidays). I know I certainly do. Thankfully it all worked out OK.

  2. Demaish @ Borrowed Cents

    Unfortunately, disappointments are part of life and we encounter them here and there. The most important thing is to keep your head up and focus on the positive side of things. I try not to stress about the issues because it is what it is. I can’t reverse them.

    1. KK

      It’s hard to look for the bright side sometimes, but it’s definitely there ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    Great post KK. That storm battered a lot of Eastern Canada as well, making for a lot of loss (freezers filled with food, burst pipes, no Christmas dinner, etc). Thankfully I wasn’t hit by that storm, and we kept our power, but I’ve been where you were many times before. My parents have a generator because of bad storms in the past, but we don’t now that we live in an apartment.

    I think your steps of disappointment are awesome, and realistic. Just keep going, while accepting it!

    1. KK

      I didn’t get to see the news coverage, but from what I’m told there were many states and a bunch of Canada that got hit really hard. Terrible timing with Christmas and all, but then again I guess there’s really not a good time to lose your power/pipes/freezer ๐Ÿ™

  4. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich

    Way to put a positive spin on a crummy situation. I had to spend a few years away from home at Christmas because of work and each year would put me in such a miserable funk. I wish I’d had your list back then. But a good cry, a quick vent-fest and then getting on with life and being grateful for what you DO have work wonders.

    1. KK

      I know I’m lucky that I was able to spend the holidays with family (even if it wasn’t the way we’d planned). In 30 years I’ve always been with family on Christmas, so I wasn’t going to let a stupid ice storm ruin that for me. It would be really hard for me to work on Christmas (or be away from family b/c of work), but you have to do what you have to do.

  5. Mackenzie

    Great list! Sometimes it helps to just talk stuff out. Holding everything inside, can make things worse.

    1. KK

      I’m totally a talker. Bf, less so. I always tell him he’s going to hold things in under he explodes ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    Speaking up about what I’m going through has helped me out a lot in the past. I don’t like to use the word complain, but just being honest about what’s up, gives people an opportunity to help you out.

    1. KK

      Maybe “vent” would be a better word ๐Ÿ˜‰ Getting all those frustrations out in the open can really be helpful.

  7. Morgaine

    Very good post KK! I think its very important to think about those who are less fortunate and try to help. There was a bad ice storm in Toronto as well and some people are still without power. We were very lucky as we didn’t lose power at all (we live west of the city) and my Mom only lost power for about 2 hours overnight but we had no problems celebrating Christmas.

    We did send out messages to all our friends to see if there was anyone out there didn’t have power and ask them to join us but everyone we knew didn’t get hit. I always give a little extra around this time of year and this year I think it was needed more than ever. Thanks for the reminders ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. KK

      I’m so glad you guys have power and everybody is OK. Ice storms can be so dangerous, particularly for the elderly and sick who can’t tolerate the cold. It’s really sad to see so many people suffering, especially at Christmas.

  8. Michelle

    Great post. I always like to think about what I have and what I am grateful for. Even though things may be bad, things could be worse!

    1. KK

      Absolutely, maybe things stink for me, but they are much worse for someone else. Events like this really put things in perspective for me.

  9. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    Awe that sucks that happened. Those are pretty great responses. I did two of them when I got sick over the holidays, which set me back in my 1/2 marathon training. I realized there was nothing I could do as well except take care of myself and hopefully recover quickly, and I also cried, because I realized this was such a minor setback, and compared to my cousin who just had a double mastectomy two days before Christmas, I had it good and had nothing to complain about. I think you have to find whatever perspective works best for you.

    1. KK

      It was a pretty crappy situation, but it did make me realize how thankful I was that we had a generator and weren’t cold or hungry or suffering. We were together and we tried to make things as enjoyable as possible despite the snow and ice. I hope your cousin is doing OK. She’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    Oh my gosh, KK, what a timely post. Having a tough day here: the kids are still missing Jeffy the cat SO much, and I’m frustrated about not being able to do anything about that for them, and feeling too like the debt is going to take forever to go away. I really needed this today – thank you!!!

    1. KK

      Life isn’t easy sometimes, that’s for sure. Pets are such a big part of the family for us, I can’t even think about how I would feel if I lost one of them. Things will get better, they always do, it’s just a lot of ups and downs.

  11. anna

    Oh my gosh, sorry to hear about the power being out for so long! I hope the power is back on for all those affected (and stay that way!). I love your perspective and strategies with disappointment, especially not stressing about things beyond your control. I have to remind myself of that constantly, and it really does take a load off. I also like a good cry – it’s so cathartic, and then you can go about your day. Great post, KK, Happy New Year. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. KK

      I’m a bit of a natural “stress ball”. I think I get it from my mother who also tends to worry about things that are outside of her control. The older I get the more I notice the similarities. It’s not a bad thing sometimes, but I definitely tend to worry a lot and over-think things. My parents did get their power back, but then lost it again for a day (and now it’s back again). It’s been a long couple of weeks for those who are affected. My thoughts are with them and I hope everything returns to “normal” soon. Happy New Year!

  12. Dear Debt

    I agree with all of these. When I fell off my bike a few weeks ago, I just cried for a while. It hurt, but i just needed to vent. I also think venting to others really helps me, because I can have a slight temper if I bottle it up. I think it’s important to always remember things could be a lot worse and try to practice gratitude even amidst disappointment.

    1. KK

      I can totally identify with the temper ๐Ÿ˜‰ If I get really stressed out and don’t deal with it in appropriate ways I can be a bit nasty (just as the bf-poor guy). That’s why I try really hard to vent in healthy ways.

  13. DC @ Young Adult Money

    Nothing in comparison to dealing with an ice storm, but my Cat’s eye got bad (again) and I honestly thought this was it. It was hard to deal with and I did shed a few tears. Amazingly she recovered and is alive and well for now! I think this is an important thing to remember: “Stop stressing about things that you canโ€™t control.” Unfortunately I’m terrible at it!

    1. KK

      So glad kitty is OK. Our pets are such a big part of our family, I can’t even imagine what I’d do if something happened to one of them. I’m not always the best at keeping stress in check, but I’m trying.

  14. Money Saving Dude

    Well, I was disappointed to myself for not meeting my expected grades during my first semester as a college student, but I learned to adjust and I’m hoping I could get better grades this coming year.

    1. KK

      And that’s all we can do sometimes. Chalk up the bad experiences and start looking towards how we can change the future. Good luck!

  15. Debt and the Girl

    I am glad you are okay. Posts like these always make me remember to be thankful for what I have. This is so important especially when things are down. Hope you had a great holiday

    1. KK

      I certainly have a lot of things to be thankful for (even when I’m disappointed) ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Charles@gettingarichlife

    I always think that things could always be worse and grateful that I have first world problems. I always try to look for the positives in things and believes things always work out.

    1. KK

      I think the “positive spin” comes more naturally to some than others. I’d say I’m probably somewhere in the middle when it comes to positivity. I like to think I’m a realist, but I also try to recognize that sometimes things aren’t as bad as they could be #firstworldproblems.

  17. Holly@ClubThrifty

    Life can be disappointing sometimes for sure. I’ve certainly had my share. I just try to keep moving forward. That’s all that anyone can do!

    1. KK

      Yup, gotta just keep plugging along and have faith that things will get better (they usually do!).

  18. Deacon @ Well Kept Wallet

    When I am disappointed about something, I try to switch my focus to the things that I am grateful for. It tends to shift my attitude from disappointment to gratefulness. Easier said than done though.

    1. KK

      Definitely easier said than done. It’s easy to get yourself into a cycle of negative thinking (I know I’ve been there), but once you start seeing the positive side of things it’s also easy to get into a cycle of gratefulness.

  19. Girl Meets Debt

    These are all great tips for dealing with disappointment KK! Having the power out for any extended amount of time is rough but around the holidays must feel 10x worse. I like to cry when I’m disappointed and even though people may think I’m a 30 year old crybaby, I don’t really care. I just cry harder. Now I just need to work on being a “pretty” crier. ๐Ÿ˜› I hope you and Erik have a great new years!

    1. KK

      I’m totally fine with being a 31 year-old cry baby. And trust me it’s NOT pretty ๐Ÿ˜‰ But it does make me feel a lot better.

  20. Liz

    I like your first point about things getting better. It’s sometimes hard to get yourself passed that dark moment when you are feeling terrible, but you are right – it will pass and things will get better. Hope you have a great 2014!

    1. KK

      Right now we’re in the middle of a furnace issue, but I know that it’s all going to be OK. Just hoping that 2014 gets better ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Michelle @fitisthenewpoor

    This holiday has certainly been a major disappointment for me, but I am reminding myself to look back on all the good that came from it and how happy I made people. It certainly helps!

    1. KK

      I know for sure you made your niece very happy! I know there was good that came out of this year’s holidays, but right now it’s hard work to think of the good.

  22. David

    Beautiful! All I can say is beautiful!
    This is perfect, and I greatly commend you for having such n optimistic view to a crisis!
    I hope that you will recover from the storm!
    Thanks for the nice story and positive views.

    1. KK

      Thanks David, I’m trying, that’s for sure.

  23. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

    Great post…I think #2 is a biggie. It is so true that there is no point stressing over something you can’t control. Unfortunately, I still stress over it! This winter seems pretty harsh in the Northeast and winter just started. Hopefully it isn’t a sign of things to come this winter. I think there’s a storm brewing for Thursday and Friday…hope it isn’t too bad.

    1. KK

      You and me both Andrew. I constantly stress about things I can’t control, which isn’t good for my mental or emotional health. ‘m trying to get better about that, but it’s hard. I’ve heard the same thing about today. Hoping all the snow misses us.

  24. Stu @ Poor Student

    Good tips. I am glad you got power back – that must have been frustrating. One of the ways I deal with disappointment is to take it as an opportunity to work really hard and improve the chances of not being disappointed again in the future.

    1. KK

      That’s a good point Stu. If you have a way to avoid the disappointment (particularly if it is something you can control) that’s a big motivator to do things differently the second time around.

  25. Ryan @ Impersonal Finance

    Awesome pieces of advice here. I think one of the most crushing things about disappointment is that people don’t know how to properly deal with it, and things can sort of sprial even further out of control. #1 and #6 are definitely biggies, because things will always get better, and things could always be worse. It definitely helps keep perspective.

  26. Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans

    I love how you put “cry” as one of the tips. Sometimes, I get too obsessed with trying to hide the disappointment that it really turns into an unhealthy way of dealing with it. Crying let’s your feel the emotion so that it’s a lot easier to let go of.

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