How To Handle Disappointment And Let Things Go

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 16, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you ever been disappointed by something so badly that it feels almost impossible to let it go? No matter how hard we try to avoid it, disappointment is a part of life. While it's normal to feel disappointment, learning to process it and overcome disappointing events is important because holding onto it can have negative effects.

Overcoming disappointment can help us build resiliency

What is disappointment?

The Merriam-Webster English Dictionary defines disappointment as feeling “defeated in expectation or hope.” As an emotion, disappointment is characterized by a feeling of regret or sadness, often related to a loss. The loss may be of a loved one or changes in circumstances, such as the loss of a job or home, a failing grade on a test, or a bad medical diagnosis, for example.

People experience disappointment for many reasons. Just as people are unique, our responses to disappointment are exclusive to us individually.

Learning to identify the source of disappointment

Your reaction to disappointment and the way you choose to overcome it is often influenced by the source of the disappointment.

For example, if you applied for a promotion at work but did not receive it, you may feel disappointed and wonder how things in your life may have been better had you been promoted. In instances like this, you must make a decision. Decide if you want to stay at your current job with the employer who did not choose you or if you want to pursue employment elsewhere. There are likely additionally options that you may not have considered, such as having a conversation with your supervisor about what options for growth may exist for you and what you might need to do to prepare for those opportunities when they arise.

On the other hand, if your disappointment is related to the loss of a relationship or the death of a loved one, you may find yourself questioning why things had to end. The disappointment associated with the loss of a loved one often leaves individuals feeling overwhelmed. Because there is no way to "undo" the circumstance, it may feel like you may never get the closure you seek. It can be empowering to know that there are ways for you to process your emotions and move forward.

Managing disappointment effectively

Many people have the mindset that if you don't talk about something, then it didn't happen. This is not true. This type of denial can have negative consequences, which may compound the disappointment.

Long-term effects of unresolved disappointment may impact personal and/or romantic relationships. This often happens because someone who has been disappointed finds it difficult to trust others for fear of facing rejection or more disappointment.

Feeling disappointment is not necessarily an issue to be concerned about. The inability to cope with the emotion and to let go of associated pain can become an issue, though.

Overcoming disappointment when things go wrong takes a conscious effort. There are some steps you can take to best manage your emotions so that you can let things go and move on.

Develop emotional awareness

One of the best ways to become emotionally aware is to acknowledge your feelings about the situation(s) that disappoint you. Being honest with yourself first will allow you to talk to and be honest with others. If you have a friend or confidante withwhom you can discuss these feelings, they may be able to offer some perspective about the issue.


Additionally, seeking the advice of a therapist or counselor for unresolved emotional responses could be beneficial. An experienced counselor will be able to offer you support and insight into why some feelings are easier to cope with than others. They can teach you healthy coping mechanisms to help you learn to let go of disappointment and move forward.

Embrace peace

Disappointment has a way of leaving the person affected feeling anxious, as if in a constant state of turmoil. This is not conducive to emotional well-being.

Some days may be a little easier than others, but it is very important to learn to identify things that make you feel happy and at peace and to embrace them. Letting go of disappointment and of any anger or bitterness associated with it can free your mind of the turmoil and will help you to live a life of peace.

Seek reality, not illusion

It is human nature to hope and dream. It's healthy to do so. However, when reality becomes mixed with illusion, it is very easy to feel disappointed. When you are trying to decipher what is real, journaling or making lists may be helpful. Write down facts and how they impact your life. Journaling and writing your feelings are great ways to express your feelings while maintaining discreetness.

Allow experience to be your teacher

Disappointment is inevitable. While it may not feel good at the time, experiencing disappointment and learning to overcome it can help prepare you for difficult situations later in life. Whether disappointment occurred because of a mistake you made, a missed goal, or poor personal choices, there is an opportunity to learn and move forward.

Give yourself credit

Just because you experience disappointment doesn't mean that you have to beat yourself up. If you take the time to honestly weigh the positive and negative experiences you've had, chances are you have much more to be proud of than disappointed about.

Think about your character strengths. Are you a good friend or a hard worker? Do you like to do kind things for others? When you begin to view yourself in terms of successes rather than failures or disappointments, you may be surprised how much better you begin to feel.

We all need someone

No matter what disappointment you are experiencing, it's important to realize that we all have times when we need the help of others. Reaching out to family and friends who are encouraging can help you begin to overcome disappointments and let go of negative emotions and beliefs that do not serve you.

Getty / Inside Creative House
Overcoming disappointment can help us build resiliency

When you need more help than just a friendly conversation, seeking the advice of a counselor or therapist is never a bad idea. Most towns have mental health and wellness clinics. Your primary care physician can also provide you with a list of counselors that they recommend. If you are interested in counseling, but not sure about the commitment to appointments or the financial obligation, online counseling may be an option for you.

Online counseling through sources, such as BetterHelp, gives individuals the option to receive support and encouragement from licensed, experienced counselors. Our dedicated staff is committed to helping you address life's issues with confidence, from wherever you have an internet connection and at a time that is convenient for you. Our mission is to make counseling more affordable. 

Many people have achieved success in overcoming disappointment and building resiliency through online therapy, and often in a shorter turnaround time than it might take in face-to-face therapy. In a systematic literature review of randomized control trials involving participants experiencing symptoms of grief, depression, and post-traumatic stress – as well as internet-based interventions – researchers found that online treatment is an effective approach for supporting bereaved adults.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

For young people who experience depression connected to a disappointing event other than the death of a loved one, online therapy shows additional efficacy in reducing depressive symptoms and emotional dysregulation. While BetterHelp is for adults, its sister site TeenCounseling may be a valuable resource for adolescents experiencing their first major encounters with disappointment. 

Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing disappointment in their lives.

Counselor reviews

Leah is an incredible counselor. She is open-minded, which is a characteristic I have a difficult time finding in individuals. She listens to my concerns and doesn't blame me for past mistakes. She helps me think of ways to deal with future issues and helps me think about things in a more positive manner. I've been feeling like a better version of myself since beginning therapy, and I know a lot of the reason is because of Leah."

A picture containing company name

Description automatically generated

"Victoria is wonderful. She is accepting and genuine, anything you need to tell her will be met with nothing but positivity. If you are struggling with something that you have shame or guilt about, Victoria will help you and you will not feel judged in anyway. She is a talented counselor with an open mind and a kind heart. You can trust her. Thank you For helping me Victoria. I am forever grateful."


Description automatically generated with medium confidence


While disappointment is something that we all experience from time to time, it does not have to control your life. Learning to address disappointment and the negative effects it can have on your life is a crucial step toward mental health and well-being. The earlier one can learn to process and move forward from disappointment, the more resilient they can become. Take the first step in finding support by reaching out to a licensed therapist on BetterHelp or TeenCounseling today.
Learn to strengthen your mental health
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started