The Surprising Benefits of Disappointment + How to Embrace Disappointment & Use It to Your Advantage

Dr. Caroline Leaf
3 min readJun 20, 2022

In a recent podcast (episode #392), I talked about managing feelings of disappointment before they negatively affect our mental wellbeing.

Disappointment is the feeling we get when an expectation that we have isn’t met. It is an emotional signal, a messenger, telling us that something is out of balance in our lives — what we want doesn’t reflect our reality.

If we take the time to analyze feelings of disappointment, we will notice they are attached to three other signals: behaviors, bodily sensations, and perspective. This means that we don’t just feel disappointment as an emotion; it can also impact how we feel physically, how we act, and our perception of ourselves and the world around us.

The key to managing feelings of disappointment is going beyond awareness and learning how to make our feelings work for us instead of against us. Disappointment can quickly become toxic if we immerse ourselves in it for too long, which is why it is so important to learn how to manage our minds. Disappointment tends to breed more and more disappointment, and before we know it, we may develop a “disappointing mindset” that becomes our outlook on life. Remember, whatever we think about the most grows!

By seeing disappointment as a messenger, a way of gathering data about what is going on in our lives, we can actually make life easier and become more resilient. In fact, the decisions we make after we experience a major disappointment can transform the eventual outcome(s) and help us make better decisions. By putting our disappointment in perspective and learning from it, we can reconceptualize what happened (think about it in a different way), thereby gaining a new perspective that enhances our creativity and develops our intelligence as we learn over time to have a more diverse range of expectations. Disappointment provides an opportunity for growth!

We can learn to manage disappointment in the moment by embracing, processing and reconceptualizing what has happened to us, which is known as mind management or self-regulation. To do this, I recommend using the mind management technique I have researched, developed and applied clinically over the past three decades, which is called the Neurocycle. (I discuss this in depth in my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle.) The kind of self-regulation that is achieved…

Dr. Caroline Leaf

Mental health expert. I have spent the last 30+ years researching ways to help people manage mental health issues in school, work, and life: