9 Ways To Bounce Back When You're Really Disappointed in Yourself

mbg Contributor By Tanya Carroll Richardson
mbg Contributor
Tanya Carroll Richardson is a professional intuitive and spiritual author who is passionate about angels, beauty, and nature. She has been in the NYC publishing world as a writer and editor for over 15 years.
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Image by Alex Tan / Death to the Stock Photo

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Maybe you didn't try hard enough on something important. Perhaps you made a thoughtless comment that hurt someone else's feelings. You might have let a co-worker down when they were counting on you for a favor. The incident might have been something even bigger, a way in which you fumbled that will have major repercussions for some time to come. The hardest part about these experiences isn't that you let others down, but that you fell short of your own expectations.

Since we can all be our own worst critics, being disappointed in yourself opens the door to a lot of self-judgment and shaming. Instead of letting these feelings escalate, let's look at ways to process your emotions, learn the lessons, and move on so you can create a new, better experience next time around. 

1. Feel all the feelings.

It's important to admit you're upset and that you're disappointed with yourself. It happens. Sometimes we can shrug things off and move on quickly, but when we are genuinely disappointed with ourselves, it might not be that easy. Feeling all the feelings will help you actually process and move through those feelings more quickly. Within the feelings are some clues to your lessons around this situation as well.

Create a safe and nourishing space for yourself as you explore these feelings—whether it be by journaling, or conducting any sort of ritual that calls to you. Get in touch with your anger and find a healthy way to express it. Remember that sometimes issues from childhood, like abandonment, can be triggered by situations that occur when we are adults and make our emotional reaction much more intense.

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2. Confess to someone. 

There is something healing and cathartic about confession. Make sure you have someone to talk this through with who loves you unconditionally and will act as a sounding board. All you really need is a compassionate ear to witness for you as you talk through what happened and why you're upset. Keeping it all in your head will always make it bigger and worse than it actually is, no matter how big and bad it is to begin with. Confessing naturally brings feelings of relief.

3. Get other perspectives on the situation. 

If this was something someone else witnessed, get other perspectives. Explain to this person first how badly you feel. Let them know you're kicking yourself pretty hard, so while you want to know their perspective on what happened, you don't want to be judged or shamed. You're just trying to get a clear picture so you can better make sense of the situation. If no one you know witnessed the event, or if the situation unfolded slowly over time, recount it for someone for their take.

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4. Allow space and time to create a scab over your wound. 

Realize that with space and time this will come into even more perspective. By all means set aside moments to journal about this disappointment, talk it through, or go on a long walk to mull it over. But continue to go about your life. Do your work, celebrate other things, spend time with people you love, get lost in a creative project. Don't press pause on your life just because you're disappointed in yourself. Shift your concern outward to what's going on with loved ones or in the larger world if that helps. After spending mental time away you will be able to put this in perspective. It won’t feel so raw and won’t hurt as much.

5. Love yourself through it. 

You can make huge, heartbreaking mistakes and still love yourself. Separate you from this one action or moment in time. It's not the sum total of who you are. It's one experience. Be gentle with yourself and limit the amount of time the critical voice is allowed to hold court in your head. Don't bring the hammer down. Odds are you feel bad enough without punishing yourself even more.

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6. Learn the lessons. 

This is one of the most important steps. What were the practical and spiritual lessons of this situation? If you mouthed off in a room of strangers and hurt someone's feelings, it might be about using your filter or resolving to concentrate on saying things that are positive and uplifting whenever possible. If you were late to a big date and arrived after the doors closed on a performance and had to wait for intermission to join your partner, try to discern if this is a pattern. Are you chronically late? Is your partner always angry and hurt because you are forever working and the one time they ask you to leave early you stand them up? If so, what's behind it? Honor yourself and try to ensure that you learn the unique lessons that come with being deeply disappointed in yourself so you don't have to repeat this experience and learn the harder way. 

7. Ask your angels for help forgiving yourself.

You can write a journal entry to your angels, spiritual guidance squad, or whatever name you ascribe to a higher power. Sometimes just knowing you have spiritual guardians out there watching over you no matter how badly you mess up in life is an incredible source of comfort and strength. Angels can always help you walk through situations you don’t know if you can handle alone, like forgiving yourself after a major mistake. Also look for the grace opportunities angels will send to help you damage control things and soften any repercussions. You can find out more about working with angels in my new book Angel Intuition.

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8. Be more compassionate and merciful to others in your same situation. 

Since you really know how it feels, the next time you see someone do something they probably regret, be a source of compassion and mercy for them. You might be the person someone calls to confess to in the future, or you might be the one a friend approaches sheepishly with an apology for doing something offensive or hurtful. Pay it forward by being as kind and understanding as you can with others, even strangers.

9. Come out of this an even better, even stronger version of yourself.

If you're disappointed in yourself because you let a financial windfall slip through your fingers, put yourself on a weekly budget and start a monthly savings plan. Set yourself up for a different experience in the future with practical, well-thought-out, self-loving action steps. Remember that often our most powerful growth opportunities come from our biggest disappointments.

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