Cancelled by COVID 19: Managing Disappointment

cat making frowny face
You may have made this face a few times in the past few months. The COVID-19 pandemic has cancelled many concerts, meeting and family gatherings for many. The EAP offers some tips on handling disappointment.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the May 2020 Washington State Employee Assistance Program Newsletter

In addition to fear and anxiety, COVID-19 is causing many to struggle with feelings of disappointment. Whether it is a cancelled celebration or a postponed vacation, If not managed in a healthy way, disappointment can lead to lingering feelings of sadness and even depression. Here are four positive steps to help work through feelings of disappointment.

1) Give yourself permission to be disappointed. Adults are often so uncomfortable with negative emotions that there is a tendency to try to rush past them. However, if you allow yourself to experience the disappointment, as well as any other feelings you’re experiencing such as sadness and anger, you stand a better chance of being able to process your feelings in a healthy way. Genuinely experiencing emotions, no matter how painful, is part of the human experience. As you learn how to move through negative emotions rather than circumventing them, you help strengthen your personal resilience.

2) Find support. There is an old Yiddish saying, “Man plans, and God laughs.” As you know, the unexpected can suddenly pull the rug out from under cherished plans. Maybe you also know that when you share your disappointment with someone you trust, you will find support. Talking about disappointment can help release some of its fuel. In addition, the person you share with can offer comfort and may help you gain additional perspective.

3) Identify what you value. Disappointment reveals what really matters. If you are dejected because your child’s graduation ceremony was cancelled due to coronavirus, what does that reveal about what you care about? Is it a reflection of how proud you are of them or how eager you were to celebrate their achievement? Or, did you view their graduation as your graduation as well? Digging deeper and understanding what is at the root of your disappointment can be a very healthy exercise. From there you can move on to other ways to honor what you value.

4) Channel your disappointment. Once you uncover what you value, you can channel the energy of your disappointment to positive actions honoring that value. For the cancelled graduation, as an example, perhaps that means offering to spearhead a virtual graduation ceremony or creating a video with personal messages of congratulations.

While you do not have the power to change things outside of your control, you are able to control how you respond. If you are dealing with a COVID-19 related disappointment, know that you are not alone and, there is the possibility of understanding, learning from and growing through disappointment. If you’d like support to dig deeper and better understand your feelings, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out to the EAP for support, at 877-313-4455