Disappointment is a powerful feeling.
Your sunny expectations, your hopeful attitude, and your optimistic outlook take a massive hit. Disappointment leaves you feeling like you don’t have a choice.
Whether it’s a person, an event, an opportunity, or even yourself that causes the disappointment, you’re now left desperately searching for some way to feel better.
To feel like things will be ok. That you’re still ok. To fix things.
And that ‘fix’ is usually food.
Disappointment + comfort
Yes, good old-fashioned comfort eating. I mean, who hasn’t been skipped over for a promotion at work and ended up eating an entire tub of ice cream as a result? Or has anyone else ever found themselves eating the whole family-sized pizza because they made amazing plans with friends only for everyone to cancel and be ‘too busy’ to hang out?
- a lack of choice
- like you’re trapped
- as if you must be worthless (why else would they treat you like this?)
I have so been there. Many of us have.
Disappointment has always been a very potent emotion for me, and one that fueled my emotional eating like nothing else. The acute pain of having a dream smashed on the ground – big or small – seems uniquely suited to eating away the pain.
But it doesn’t help. It just makes you feel worse because now you’re also disappointed in yourself.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, lose weight, or self-improve then eating a bunch of junk food is so not part of the plan.
It’s likely the guilt, shame, and heavy brain + body you feel after comfort eating compounds your disappointment. It not only gets you further away from your health or weight goals, but you feel worse for longer.
Sure, disappointment will always suck. But, you can learn to take the sting out of it – and to deal with negative emotions without food.
And in a way that makes you stronger, happier, and healthier. Here’s how.
How to stop disappointment from sabotaging your diet
1) Put it in perspective
Letting yourself take risks, ask for what you want, or reach out in life and finding only disappointment can make you want to retreat from the world entirely. And head straight to the nearest convenience store. You can also form some pessimistic expectations about your own abilities and self-worth – which again, leads to out of control comfort eating.
But disappointment is all about perspective. No matter what’s gone wrong – the opportunity for fulfillment is just around the corner.
You don’t have to live your disappointment story. Is there a way you can consciously and purposefully transform the story you’re telling yourself about a disappointment into one about opportunity? For example:
You didn’t get the promotion you wanted at work.
Could this be a good thing? Do you now have more time to dedicate to your family, your hobbies, or even starting a side-project?
You tried to organize a girl’s night out, but everyone was too busy.
Is this a chance for you to reach out to your friends and talk about the ‘too-busy’ culture we’re so addicted to? Is there time here for you to do some solo-self-care? Or could you use the time to go to a meetup or support group and make friends with a wider range of people?
You promised yourself you were going to cook healthy meals at home + lose weight, but you just went through the drive-thru for the second time this week.
This is an amazing opportunity to learn more about yourself and your triggers. What was it about those days that made cooking feel impossible? And how can you make healthy eating easier for yourself?
Right now, you might feel like nothing good ever comes your way – but with a shift in perspective, you can get your emotions back on track and even turn disappointment into something wonderful.
2) Have a disappointment plan
Disappoint is going to happen to you, no matter what. The best thing you can do is have a plan. You can use the worksheets from this post to brainstorm what feels good for you and then decide on some things you’d like to do differently the next time you’re disappointed.
Grab a pen or the notepad on your phone and write down exactly what you’re going to do the next time you’re disappointed. If you’re stuck for ideas here are 20 awesome non-food activities, you can make yourself an epic self-care kit, or you can check out this free 14-day self-trust challenge.
Having a plan in place makes you feel less lost, most supported, and way less likely to reach for the bag of chips. All major wins.
3) Don’t let fear of disappointment stop your from trying
When you’ve been through a couple of serious rounds of disappointment, it’s natural to start trying to avoid it. It hurts like crazy! But fearing disappointment keeps you from reaching out, striving, and getting what you deeply want.
I can guarantee you will not look back on yourself in 10 years time and say:
“Oh yeah – I am SO glad I didn’t try to heal my emotional eating. I might have failed and felt bad.”
“Whew, I’m so happy I didn’t organize more nights out with my friends. They might have been too busy and I’d have felt embarrassed.”
Not trying out of fear (and looking back in regret) is so much worse than disappointment. Trying to do better, be better, feel better will always be way more gratifying than not trying and never making progress.
4) Let go of past disappointments. Don’t add old disappointment to your current situation.
Do you ever do that thing where one disappointment seems to knock over some sort of internal stack of dominoes and you start dredging up and dwelling on every time you’ve been disappointed… since you were, like, 6 years old?
It makes one regular-sized disappointed take on weight and magnitude that feel soul-crushing. Life suddenly looks like it’s just a long string of disappointments, with plenty more on the horizon.
Don’t do this.
Your current disappointment has nothing to do with how you didn’t get a Barbie for your birthday when you were 6, or how your boyfriend forgot your 3 year anniversary last spring.
Deal with each disappointment as its own experience – and return to point #1. You gain nothing by linking your disappointments together, except guaranteeing that you’ll try to put yourself in a food coma. Take charge of your internal patterns and dialogues and talk yourself off this ledge.
Changing the way you ‘do’ disappointment will help
It’ll help you eat better, lose weight, feel more confident, and be free. Don’t let disappointment bring you down or make you eat in ways you don’t want to. You have control here and you can choose how to prepare, plan, and deal with disappointment.
If you’re struggling to trust yourself with food after a string of disappointments, learn how to trust yourself with food in the free 14-day challenge. With emails, videos, support, and actions steps, you’ll be feeling freer with food in no time.