What to Do When the Person You’re Disappointed in Is You

What to Do When the Person You're Disappointed in Is You

What to Do When the Person You’re Disappointed in Is You

We’re almost two months into the new year, yet many of us have already disappointed ourselves. Maybe we’ve dropped the ball on the New Year’s resolutions we set just eight short weeks ago. We all hoped that 2021 would be better, a fresh start after a rough 2020, but so far, this year has given us plenty of new hard things to deal with. Perhaps we’re frustrated with how we haven’t changed much either in the last couple of months. So what do you do when the person that you’re disappointed in is you? 

3 Unhealthy Responses to Feeling Like You’re Disappointed in Yourself

#1 Punishing Yourself

When you are experiencing frustration with your choices or decisions, you may punish yourself. Self-punishment comes in many forms, like restricting yourself from enjoying good things, rejecting others’ praise, or engaging in negative self-talk. Sometimes people even perform self-harming acts in order to punish themselves. This type of response to coming up short often occurs when you are overwhelmed with guilt or even self-hatred. This is not a helpful or constructive coping mechanism, but it is not uncommon. 

If you’re stuck in a cycle of self-punishment, there’s no shame in reaching out for help. To search for a therapist in your area, click here.

#2 Denial

Sometimes when you’re disappointed in yourself, you choose denial as a response. This is essentially the decision to not talk about your failure, to pretend that it never happened. Denying either that you ever set the goal in the first place or that you strayed from it will not help you improve or achieve. You must be honest with yourself (and others, where appropriate) if you want to grow. 

#3 Giving Up

Giving up is a very common response to being disappointed in yourself. When you set goals for yourself, you expect to complete them; when faced with your own failures, it may seem logical to give up. We are often harsh and judgmental with ourselves. It’s as if we have decided that only complete perfection is worth striving for. One mistake or failure is enough to disqualify the value of all our efforts. And that’s simply untrue. We don’t always meet our own standards, even when we’ve set realistic goals, but an “all or nothing” approach to our goals is not conducive to progress. 

5 Healthy Alternatives

#1 Pause

If you feel yourself slipping into a disappointed mindset, you should pause. Often, our own failures trigger our fight, flight, or freeze response. Take some deep breaths, give yourself space to think, and calm down. Think about the situation in front of you rationally and thoughtfully so you can remain objective.

#2 Use It

If you are disappointed in your actions, use that disappointment as an impetus to find a solution or try again. This is an opportunity for you to shift toward self-compassion and self-love. You are a human who makes mistakes, just like we all are. What matters in this moment is how you choose to move forward. Use your disappointment as a catalyst to make good choices.

   2.A Explore

To make positive changes, you may need to spend some time in introspection. Ask yourself questions about why and how you disappointed yourself. How did the circumstances affect your choices? Do your goals or their implementation need to be reexamined? Take this opportunity to learn more about yourself, your tendencies, and who you want to be.

   2.B Plan

Once you understand how you ended up in this situation, you can make a plan to get back on track and avoid disappointment in the future. Your plan should be realistic to the demands of your life and involve small, attainable steps for you to get there. Think ahead of potential challenges that could derail your goals and how you will tackle them. Set yourself up for future success. 

#3 Name Your Feelings

Your feelings matter and are valid. Being disappointed in yourself when things do not go well is normal. Name your feelings, accept them, and then make positive decisions about how to move forward. As we noted before, denial is unhelpful. By identifying and feeling your emotions associated with failure and disappointment, you are equipping yourself to move forward with those feelings resolved, rather than just shoved into a corner of your heart and ignored as long as possible. 

#4 Practice Self-Compassion

Chances are, you will make more mistakes, you will fail again, you will disappoint yourself because you are human. The best thing you can offer yourself in those moments is self-compassion. Self-compassion helps us accept our mistakes as learning and growth opportunities that help us in the future. Start growing the habit of self-compassion now. 

#5 Get Help

If you are struggling to move past being disappointed in yourself or engaging in self-destructive behaviors, a therapist can be an excellent resource and support. Together, you can work on dismantling unhelpful thoughts and habits and embracing new, positive replacements. 


A therapist can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms as you deal with self-disappointment. To find a therapist in your area, click here.

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