How to Adapt Your Mindset to Handle Disappointment

Disappointment can be pretty hard to handle. Whether it’s anger, frustration or sadness that arises, this emotional roller-coaster not only feels terrible, it’s also very draining. Here’s how you can deal with things better.


Meditation has long been known by research to reduce stress- from disappointment, negative outcomes and emotions to the waiting period before them. It works by focusing your mind on the present instead of the past or the future. Rather than questioning and criticising yourself for what has happened and what may happen, it encourages you to observe these thoughts neutrally- accepting that both good and bad are an inevitable part of reality. In fact, research has shown that just 15 minutes a week of this kind of meditation is enough to reduce the stress of waiting for negative outcomes.

Spend Time with Positive People

Our environments have a huge influence on us. We tend to modify our vocabulary’s mood (positive or negative) and our facial expressions depending on what our conversation partner is saying and doing. For example, if they’re using words like ‘depressed’ and ‘unhappy’ while looking sad, we most likely will too. And in empathizing like this with the people around us, we tend to adopt or “catch” whatever mindset they’re holding- whether it’s positive or negative.

With this in mind, when trying to deal with disappointment or remove negativity from your mind, try spending time with people who use positive language and have positive facial expressions. It will likely be more healing than spending time with those who will only help you dwell.

Adopt a Growth Mindset

study by psychologist Carol Dweck found that students who were praised for being “smart” were less willing to try out a new task than children who were praised for putting in effort. They were also more likely to lie about their test results to avoid losing their “smart” label. 

Labels tend to be sticky- whether they’re telling you that you’re smart, stupid or a failure as they influence your self-esteem. Although being “smart” in one instance may make you feel great, you may feel pressured to uphold the name and thus not try anything new. Likewise, being “stupid” or a failure” may damage your self-esteem and make you unwilling to move forward.

Advice here is to give up these labels and instead look at your endeavors and capabilities in terms of effort. Whether you’re feeling angry, sad or frustrated, the only thing that will change this is to continue putting effort into constructive things. This could be using another method to resolve a problem, continuing to work despite a personal tragedy or simply taking time for yourself.

Put simply, to deal with disappointment, don’t think of yourself as smart, stupid, happy, sad, a success or a failure. Instead, think of yourself just as another human who also experiences all of these things- and can also change them. 

Sarah Chung

Raised in Hong Kong, now living in New York. A serial optimist, I love finding ways to improve to enjoy life even more.