We are 2 years into the COVID pandemic and so much about our lives have changed. As a therapist, I have the chance to experience a very intimate view into the lives of my peers and community members. Sadly, many of us are struggling to manage our emotions, maintain healthy boundaries with work and relationships, and most of all, find time for ourselves.
Despite the benefits of working from home, we have become disconnected from the beauty of life and relationships. Let's face it...everyone is in a funk. We're complaining, burnt out, tired, or otherwise stuck in our life it seems. Everyone seems miserable and it's only normal that we suck in that negativity ourselves. Not to mention, many of our life plans have shifted over the past 2 years since we were literally not allowed to do life the way we used to. I too have suffered from missed opportunities over COVID, and safe to say...it sucked!
As a 20-something figuring out her life like you probably are to, I resonate with your experiences with disappointment. I have faced many disappointments during COVID that I am now learning how to process and heal from. These may be minor disappointments for some, but at the time they felt huge for me. I am recognizing that acceptance isn't just about being okay with something out of your control taking the wheel anyways, its about being aware that the thing outside of your control doesn't have to control your emotions or response. Letting go of disappointment is an emotion regulation skill, and I'm here to normalize that experience for you!
As I said previously, I have faced some disappointments over the course of this COVID stuff and let me tell you, it was not an easy pill to swallow! I got engaged at the start of COVID (literally a week before we all shut down) and my new sparkle lost its sparkle real quick when celebrations remained on hold. We weren't able to have an engagement party, intertwine families, or even plan a wedding like you normally would. We met with planners over Zoom, texted photos to family members, and cautiously planned a wedding that has still yet to take place! Now, the light at the end of the tunnel is that we are STILL planning a wedding and it will happen this year, BUT...2 delays later, we're kinda over it!
My disappointment was not the fact that celebrations couldn't take place, but I was processing my grief about how I saw this part of my life playing out. The first step to finding acceptance in disappointment is recognizing that you are essentially grieving the loss of what you thought was going to happen. Disappointment is a member of the sadness family, and we have to face the sadness before we can even begin to address the questions of moving past what has disappointed you. After all, situations often happen outside of our control and as much as we don't like to admit it, our disappointment hits harder then the event itself!
Once you have grieved this sadness, we reorient. We refocus our attention, our energy, or emotions on something we can control. In my case, that was focusing on planning my wedding festivities when it made sense for the world, not what made sense for my figurative life plan. It meant accepting t
hat my wedding will come, but for it to be what I hoped, I had to let go of all the standards I once held about this time in my life and recognize that it isn't about the timeline or the way it's "supposed to happen"...its about my partner and I celebrating our accomplishments as a couple.
When we face disappointment and aim for acceptance, we are grieving the loss of the life we envisioned in our minds and instead face the reality of the life we are living. Life is hard sometimes. Life happens in unexpected ways. Consider the following questions when you are facing disappointment as a form of healing:
What is triggering this emotional response in me?
What can I control in this moment?
What do I need to process this disappointment?
Why do I feel disappointed?
Who can I turn to for support?
Have you struggled with disappointment, finding accepting, or healing from a loss? Share your self-healing journey in the comments and know you are not alone.