If we were to personify disappointment, it would be that one cousin that you have to hang out with at holiday parties out of pity. He also kind of smells, but not enough where you feel inclined to tell them. You know what I mean.
Let’s say somebody disappoints you. Whether it’s a shitty date, or the McDonald’s employee putting too much mayo on your Mcchicken, you have a right to feel disappointed. Now, the important part is knowing when to express your disappointment. Are you disappointed because you took some shit personally, or because it was objectively disappointing? In the Mcchicken scenario, I took that shit personally, but I would most likely never complain about it. I’ll still keep fucking buying Mcchickens. Don’t judge my choice of fast-food chicken sandwich; that’s not what this is about.
Beyond dollar menu sandwiches, being disappointed by another individual sucks ass. We don’t talk about the feeling of disappointment enough. Anger, sure. Sadness, sure. Disappointment? That shit hurts more than the other feelings at times. I don’t fully believe in ‘negative’ emotions. If you’re properly expressing yourself and processing your feelings, there’s no reason as to why any emotion you feel should be considered negative. Increasing your emotional intelligence is always positive, and even shitty feelings can be a positive experience.
Your friend or date or whoever disappoints you by acting stupid. What are you going to do, stay quiet? Let it happen again? Ghost? Nah, man. Express yourself. “Hey, Bobby, I felt X way when you did X thing. Can we talk about it?” A lot easier said than done, but nothing’s ever fucking easy. Man up, dude. Are you scared of talking about your feelings? That’s some cowardly shit. If they’re receptive, cool. If they’re not, get the fuck out of there.
I know you’re wondering, “Maria, how can I improve my emotional intelligence? I am terrified of ever communicating and would prefer to live in a shadow of potentially positive relationships and stay surrounded by emotionally immature humans, so we never have to be vulnerable.” How did I read your mind? Okay, I didn’t, but I have been snooping around your mind, and we got some spring cleaning to do up here—one obstacle at a time.
Let’s take Gross’ (1998) five points of focus in the process of regulating your emotions. First, situation selection. Having the self-control, or self-awareness, to choose whether to enter a situation or approach an individual. Is this situation going to disappoint me? Do you know yourself well enough to know? Figure it out.
You made the wrong choice, or you couldn’t control it, and some shit happened. Now, the second point of focus is situation modification. Try your best to find a quick solution and change the situation for the better. Dropped your pizza? Before you get pissed, just pick it up within 5 seconds. Avoid an emotional impact.
Fuck. We can’t modify the situation. You dropped the damn pizza in a puddle. The third point of focus is attentional deployment. Distract yourself if you can. Text a friend, check your Insta feed. You could also concentrate on something else long enough to forget about this emotional trigger. You could also ruminate, but that’ll fuck you up even more. Don’t ruminate.
That shit didn’t work. Now we face the point of focus four, cognitive change. Try to turn it around by twisting your mindset. You didn’t need that pizza. Honestly, it was ass.
Lastly, response modulation. Influencing how you respond to the emotions you’re currently feeling. Coping mechanisms vary greatly, and choosing a healthy one is so fucking hard. Try your best anyway. Mine is Mcchickens, but you already know how that can restart this whole cycle of emotional regulation for me.
Gross, J. J. (1998). The Emerging Field of Emotion Regulation: An Integrative Review. Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 271–299. https://doi.org/10.1037/1089-26184.108.40.2061