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How to be more relaxed about disappointment

The restrictions imposed by the corona pandemic can be very stressful for us. Events and meetings that we have been looking forward to have to be postponed or are not currently possible. That leads to disappointment.

We would like to have a lot different: unrestricted freedom of movement as in the past, enjoy a concert again, meet the whole family, hug friends. Until recently, we thought that more normality in this sense would be possible again at the end of November. That doesn’t seem to be the case because the numbers are not going down. A great hope disappears, disappointment spreads. How do we stay mentally strong and emotionally relaxed?

In order to cope better with disappointments, one must first understand what is going on in our psyche before a disappointment occurs.

The greatest disappointments come from expectations that are too high

Disappointments have a lead-in: They are the result of the wishes, expectations and hopes that have previously grown in our imagination. A disappointed expectation gives rise to strong emotions: anger, anger, indignation. Frustration, bad mood, bitterness. Sadness, resignation, despair. Positive moods and feelings such as joy, anticipation, compassion and helpfulness fade into the background. This affects the mood in everyday life – and thus the quality of life.

Behavior can also change, as can currently be observed: More and more people are getting out of standing together as a community with the thought “We can do it together”. They switch off and, for example, no longer follow the news, do their own thing, such as being more and more careless with distance rules and wearing masks.

These consequences of disappointment are not automatic, because we can do a lot to stay in a positive mood and to maintain our quality and joy of life in spite of unfavorable conditions. I call this “inner freedom” – the emotional independence from external conditions.

Preventing disappointment: Pragmatic realism instead of unrealistic optimism

The key to more serenity lies in saying goodbye to expectations that are too high. We often hear that one should always be optimistic. This can be a good strategy, but not always. At the moment, it can backfire if you indulge in unrealistically optimistic ideas.

If you give in to the idea that you would be able to hold carefree Christmas parties again from December and completely hide the possibility that it might not work, it would help to consider a minimum variant in addition to this maximum variant: “It would be nice, but it can also be that we have to postpone that to the celebrations until spring or even later. ”

If such a minimal variant has room in the imagination, the hard shock will not come. Positive thinking and unreserved optimism are often counterproductive right now. Likewise, the idea that you can get through the pandemic without negative emotions.

Allow negative and painful emotions – and then change them

In order to imagine the minimal variant – and if disappointments have already occurred – it is important to allow negative emotions first. Frustration, anger, sadness are also allowed. You can scold yourself, share your frustration with a friend, “whine something” to a friend on the phone. Sharing emotions helps you connect with others and be in good contact with others. It comforts and relieves. “A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved” is more than a saying.

If you allow a difficult emotion, it will subside. This gives you the chance to go through difficult things without fighting or suppressing your emotions – which is unhealthy and can lead to being chronically stuck in a negative mood because you immerse yourself in bitterness or frustration. Instead, one can reappear after a strong negative emotion – then more relaxed.

After negative emotions have subsided: deal constructively with disappointments

This makes it possible to adopt a constructive psychological attitude. Here are three suggestions.

  • Postponed is not canceled: many events are only postponed now, can take place later or in a different form.
  • Realistically plan small things instead of unrealistic hopes for great things: make several phone calls with friends, family and colleagues. Go out every day, whatever the weather. Take self-care time now that you probably wouldn’t otherwise have. Summarize the day: What was beautiful today? What am I grateful for?
  • Find alternatives for the moment: questions like “What is better than what I wanted?” or “What is the good in the difficult?” help to remain pragmatic and realistic.

We are learning a lot right now on the psychological level

I know that such an “accepting” attitude is challenging, especially when you are psychologically exhausted, as many are now. Especially for those who like to plan and often have to plan precisely to the minute, it is difficult to cope with overturned plans with the associated disappointment. That’s why we’re learning a lot right now: to be flexible; Relativize expectations; take what comes – because we can’t change it right now.

All this does not mean that we have to give up, on the contrary. On an emotionally relaxed and therefore stable psychological basis, you can make decisions about what you want to do much more easily and clearly.

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