7 Ways to Handle Disappointment with Yourself

You’re much to young to be trading yourself like a stock on the Nasdaq . . . Now go home, finish high school and reach your potential!

So says Sandra Bullock’s character Lucy in Two Weeks Notice to the young girl in the bar who had just swallowed her Altoid.

Courtesy of https://www.freeimages.com/photo/emotions-2-1434333

How many of us have actually reached our potential? Do you ever get disgusted with yourself for wasted moments (or hours), safe choices, or missed opportunities of your own choosing?

Yeah, me too. Does the success of others fill you not so much jealousy as it does with self-loathing for being such a slacker? Been there (in fact, I am there today).

Do you wonder what could have been? I know George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” I’ve even used that quote before. But really, at some point it does become too late, doesn’t it, at least in terms of opportunities? At some point you are not going to be able to be the ballerina, brain surgeon or boy wonder you could have been at 20.

So what do you do when disappointment takes over? Here are 7 suggestions that I’m trying:

List 5 things you’ve done right recently. This is a bit like counting your blessings, but instead of simply counting gifts that have come to you, list 5 things you’ve brought about by choosing wisely. Dig deep if needed. (Did you get out of bed and go to work today?) I came up with the following:

  1. I was on time every day for my early-morning library gigs over the last several weeks.
  2. I wrote a first draft of my book proposal.
  3. I pulled off Les’s surprise 25th ministry anniversary presentation and a good way to present it.
  4. I got the downstairs of the house cleaned for guests on Sunday.
  5. I sent a thank-you card to our hosts from Memorial Day weekend.


Laugh. Watch a funny movie. Or a YouTube video—I’ve always been partial to these laughing quintuplets (especially their mom saying, “Do it agin”). Enjoy cartoons or a joke book.  Or read Joel Stein’s “The Awesome Column” in Time magazine, like “The Best Defense” on Rumsfeld’s Rules. Spend time with a friend who makes you giggle. Anything to get the endorphins going.

Do one quick thing you should have done. Just do it, so you don’t feel badly about not doing it. Here’s the truth: My “one thing” is writing this blog post (although it’s not been quick). What could you do in the next 15 minutes or an hour or a day that could be added to your “something done right” list above once you finish it?

Encourage someone else’s success. What can you do to help a friend or colleague achieve more? Can you provide a connection for them that will improve their job prospects or give them more business? Can you teach them something they would like to know or introduce them to someone they should know? What doors can you open? Helping someone else succeed can make you feel great, and it just might encourage you to get motivated again.

List 5 things you can do for your own success in the next week. Now it’s your turn (or mine). What are 5 simple (or if you’re brave, not so simple) things you can do that will bring personal satisfaction, things that help you fulfill your purpose? I keep a running to-do list, so this means looking at some of the oldest items on the list, things I’ve avoided. So here are my 5 for the next week:

  1. Set up a date to visit an older couple we know from our first church.
  2. Figure out Google Authorship for my blog.
  3. Design and order my next speaking postcard.
  4. Input my newsletter e-mail addresses from my last speaking events.
  5. Type in my MissioAlliance notes and write a blog post based on them.


Tell someone what you’re going to do this week. Share your 5. Accountability makes a difference. We all know it. Probably why we don’t do it. Go for it. Be brave. Hey, I did it with the above list. (Feel free to ask me how it’s going.) You can share yours too.

Do one thing today. Get started. Success breeds success or, at least, the satisfaction of having taken a step toward success. I’ll be calling to schedule that visit. What will your one thing be?

What other ways do you overcome your self-disappointment? Share them in the comments section. I can always use some more ideas. You know, for the next time.






3 thoughts on “7 Ways to Handle Disappointment with Yourself”

  1. I think one thing that helps me is to evaluate my expectations. Sometimes when I’m disappointed with myself it’s because I have set the bar high (which isn’t bad) but may not be realistic. I like the idea of listing things you’ve done and things you can do. Thanks for the helpful tips. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Lisa, for bringing up unrealistic expectations. This morning I was thinking that I should have added “Extend grace to yourself,” because we often expect more of ourselves than of others.


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