How Feeling Disappointed is a Super Power
March 24, 2022
Episode #43: How Feeling Disappointed is a Super Power
Disappointment is a difficult emotion.
It feels so terrible in our bodies, that our brain is wired to do everything it can to avoid it.
This means we'll often avoid asking for a raise, applying for a new job, or going on a date because we're afraid to feel disappointed if things don't work out.
You may think what you're avoiding is failure (and you wouldn't be wrong), but at a deeper level, you're avoiding how failure makes you feel (hint, hint: disappointed).
But, what if you were willing to feel disappointment? What would be possible for your career or your relationships if you were willing to try, knowing that the worse that could happen would be feeling disappointed?
Endless possibilities. That's what would be possible for you.
Learning how to feel and process disappointment is a super power.
In this weeks podcast episode, I teach you how.
Listen in and learn:
- What disappointment does to our brains
- The reward-prediction error
- The link between disappointment and depression
- How to feel hard feelings
- How to process disappointment to proper you towards your goals
Coaching for Latina Leaders
About the Podcast
Leadership ability is equally distributed but opportunity to lead is not. This podcast is for all women, those that identify as leaders and those that don't, yet. You'll learn how to let go of guilt and self-doubt so you can show up with confidence everywhere you go. No more questioning if your idea is good enough to share, if it's worth it to speak up, or if you're a good enough leader. All that self-critical B.S. stops now. Listen in as masterful educator and Harvard grad physician, Dr. Vanessa Calderón, teaches you how to let go of the things standing in the way of your success as a leader. Get ready, this podcast will accelerate your personal and professional growth.
Dr. Vanessa Calderón, MD, MPP has over 20 years of leadership experience. She is a Harvard grad, ER physician, Life and Leadership coach, and a mother of 2. She's a first generation Latina and is dedicated to uplifting her community. She's the founder of the Latina Leadership Accelerator, where she uses education and coaching to support the personal and professional development of women at all stages of their lives and careers.
Is a 12-week Life and Executive Coaching program that will help you execute at a higher level, thrive in all areas of your life, and improve your self-compassion. You'll be able to:
• Improve your productivity by 60%
• 10X your Emotional Intelligence
• Have more time for the people you love
• Cultivate an unwavering sense of self-compassion
The next cohort starts in Fall 2022. Learn more and join the waitlist at: www.vanessacalderonmd.com
Listen to the Whole Episode:
Full Episode Transcript:
Full Transcript Here
43. How Feeling Disappointment is a Super Power
Welcome to coaching for Latina leaders, the only podcast dedicated to the advancement of Latinas at every level of life with your host, Dr. Vanessa Calderon, a Latina with over 20 years of leadership experience, Harvard grad physician and mother of two.
Hey mujeres! Before we jump into this week's podcast, I want to let you know about my course that's coming up. So the first week of April, I am launching my life leadership course, the leadership accelerator. So this is going to be a 12 week course and the content is off the hook. So in the 12 weeks, we cover everything you need to execute at a really high level with a ton of self compassion, you learn how to have an unshakable level of confidence. So even into spaces that in the past have made you feel insecure, you show up with self confidence, you learn how to be a brain ninja, so that you're hyper aware of your thoughts and your emotions. And you're no longer paralyzed by guilt, by shame, by anxiety or fear of disappointing other people. And I'm going to teach you how to live a life of intention. So that the choices you're making every day really reflect your values, and you're thriving in those everyday life stressors.
And I'm going to teach you the nuts and bolts of transformational leadership, we're going to cover those big three things that you need to be an effective leader, including public speaking. So I'm going to teach you how to speak to influence in any setting, whether you're giving a keynote address, you're leading a workshop, or you're just running a meeting, you're going to learn how to show up like you're on a TED stage. Number two, I'm going to teach you the art of transformational negotiations. So you walk away from every negotiation feeling really good about the outcome. And I'm going to teach you how to manage people, I'm going to teach you how to be the best boss that the people that work with you have ever had. Okay, so I deliver the content in a way to make sure that you just don't learn it, but you actually start to use it and you retain it. So a year from the last day of the course, you're still using the content that you've learned. So the way the course is delivered is you get weekly modules. And these are super high yield. They're short, and they're easily digestible, because I know you are all incredibly busy women, and I am not about to waste your time. And you also get weekly coaching and teaching sessions.
So every week we come together, and we review some concepts that you've learned over the week, and we do ton of group coaching. And you also get individual one on one coaching sessions with me. And on top of that, and probably the best thing about this entire thing is that you get to join an incredible community. When you join the course you're joining a community of other really amazing and compassionate female leaders. Now imagine being in a community with other really amazing women that care about your success just as much as you do. That's what the leadership accelerator gives you. Okay, so the program launches April first, the waitlist will be open on my website, the second week of February VanessaCalderonMD.com. And you want to make sure you get your name on the waitlist right away, because you want to be the first to hear about any course updates. And you want to get first dibs at registration because it's going to be limited to only 20 women, and I want you to be one of them. Okay, welcome back.
So we are talking about disappointment today. And I chose to talk about disappointment because disappointment is one of those universal feelings. We all feel it and we all do our best to avoid it. Because feeling it is really, really hard for our bodies. It stinks, it hurts to feel disappointment. So what we're going to talk about today is why it's so hard, literally I'm going to tell you what's happening in your brain to make disappointment feel so hard. And then we're going to talk about how we try to avoid it, how to process it, and what would be possible if we were willing to feel disappointment. Okay, so let me share an example with you of when I recently felt disappointed. So at the end of 2021, I had a business goal. So those of you know, I started a business at the end of at the beginning of 2021 super exciting. I set this big business goal and I had this goal that I was going to make X number of dollars by December 15. So December 15 comes and I'm looking at my financials and I've only made 75% of my goal. And being the overachiever, hyperchiever that I am I immediately spiral into a ball of disappointment. Why didn't I make my goal what happened all of these types of things. And I was in a really dark place for the remainder of the month of December, in a really dark place. And then a few other things that happened with my family and other things and some health things. And it did not set me up to have a great month and it was so interesting because I know these tools I've done this work I have processed disappointment before and I was at a I was at a place where I wasn't willing to really fess up to it.
I was at a place where it was so subconscious that it was really it was causing me to spiral So I want you right now to think of a recent example of when you felt disappointment. I want you to put yourself back into that space right now. Were you out on a date with somebody? Did you not get a callback or a text? Or were you putting out a proposal for work and you didn't get the reception that you wanted to think of a time recently when you felt disappointed? And I want you to think, how does disappointment feel like in your body? Now, for me, disappointment felt like a pressure heaviness in my chest, and it feels like this also ninus in my stomach, like, just kind of a discomfort in my stomach. Okay, so that's what disappointment feels like.
For me. Now, I want you to think about what it feels like for you. And we're going to go back to that in just a second. So why does disappointment feel so bad? Now, disappointment feels bad, because there's two things happening. Number one, there's something happening in our brains. So to talk about what's happening in our brains, I'm going to share this example with you. So let's say that, let's say that you experience a reward. Okay, an unexpected reward. Let's say you go to work, it's a Tuesday, and a co worker left these really nice chocolates on your desk. When you see the chocolates, what's happening in your brain is that your dopamine levels rise, and you feel happier. So your brain is associating the desk and the fact that it's Tuesday, and probably a lot of other like coincidental things happening, like Yum, it's candy, for example, to something exciting, motivating, it's a good thing. So the next time that all of those factors coincide, let's say it's Tuesday again, and you get to your desk and you see your desk, but this time, there's no chocolates there, what happens, dopamine is still going to go up in your brain, because you're going to expect the chocolates to be there. But when the chocolates aren't there, you have a sudden drop in dopamine.
And when you have that sudden drop in dopamine, that's what causes the horrible feelings of disappointment in your body. Now, scientists call this the reward prediction error, okay? It's your dopamine systems use, it uses your past experience to predict what will make you feel best in the future. Okay. So that's what causes you to feel really motivated. For example, if you are gonna create goals for the year, and you're writing out your goals, and you're really motivated, when you're setting your vision, and you're writing your goals, that's dopamine rising, that's making you feel really good about doing them, okay. And when you don't do them, what happens, dopamine slowly starts to decrease, and you slowly start feeling disappointed. So dopamine is associated with the stuff that motivates you. And when you don't have it there, or when you lose at something, and your expectations weren't met, dopamine decreases significantly, you have a dopamine drop, and that's the reward prediction error.
Okay. So there's a similar mechanism to depression, because depression is dopamine, and serotonin levels are usually down in our brains. And so what happens when you're feeling disappointed or depressed, you feel kind of dark, you feel kind of sad, you want to curl up in a little ball sometimes, and you do things to avoid your feelings. So when I'm, so let me ask you right now, what do you do when you're disappointed? So some people you know, want to indulge in behaviors to avoid feelings, like do drugs or alcohol, maybe you overeat when you're feeling disappointed. Maybe you start shopping for things that you normally wouldn't buy online. For example, for me, I indulged in Netflix. So that month of December, those last two weeks, guess what I did, I watched the entire series of billionaire on HBO in seven days. It was not the healthiest way to spend my time. So the second thing that's happening, so that's what's happening in your brain, okay, so the brain is decreasing dopamine and serotonin. And that sets off an entire cascade of events, and it causes your body to feel those feelings that I just mentioned. Okay. So for me, again, it's pressure in my chest, and that nine emptiness in my stomach.
The other thing that's happening is our thoughts. Okay. So on top of everything happening in our body, we have our thoughts of what we're making that disappointment mean. And this is a big one, because when we're not conscious of our thoughts, they'll be running in our background. They'll be running like a really bad, bad playlists in our brain that were not turning off. Maybe it seemed things like I'm a failure, no one likes me or never amount to anything. And those were super common, especially like I'm a failure, that was a big one in my brain those last two weeks of December. And that's what keeps going over and over again. And when that's happening, when your thoughts are overreacting that way, and you're not conscious, you're not bringing awareness to them, or you are bringing awareness to them, but you are engaging in them and believing them. It keeps you feeling the disappointment longer. And it keeps you from taking action because again, when you're disappointed, what do you do? You're curl up in a ball, you don't want to do any activities, you're doing things to avoid your emotions, you're indulging in bad behavior. Those are the things that keep you from taking action.
Okay. So at this point, you have an inflection So this is an inflection point here and you have three choices. Number one, you can keep feeling all the feelings of disappointment, you can stay in that negative cycle where you feel a feeling of disappointment, you feel sad, you go and overeat something and makes you feel even more disappointed or you go do drugs and alcohol, and then you feel, you know, hungover the next day, you're even more disappointed. That's your first option. Second option, you can process your feelings, and never try anything new again. So you don't have to, you can avoid essentially trying to feel disappointment. So process your feelings know that this is disappointment and be like, You know what, I don't have to do any of that. Again, I'm never going to try that. Again. I'm never going to go on a date. Again, I'm never going to try a new relationship. Again. I'm never going to put myself out there again, because I don't want to feel disappointed. Or you have the third option. And the third option is processing your feelings, focusing on your larger vision, and be willing to try again. Okay, so what do you guys think I did? Yes, I did the third option. I focused on my vision, and I wanted to do it again. So what's my vision? So when I was focusing on my vision, I was like, okay, so I could easily quit right now, I don't have to do this again. But my, my vision was so much stronger than that fear of failure that I wanted to keep going.
My vision to help women and other leaders heal from trauma so they can self actualize and be the best version of themselves. That is what inspired me that is what motivated me to keep going. So what became obvious to me as I was processing my own feelings is that if I was going to keep doing this, if I was going to keep going and playing the game of being an entrepreneur, then I had to be willing to feel disappointment. So that's what I want to talk to you about today. How do you feel disappointment? How do you process it in a way where it doesn't take over your life? How can you use it as a superpower? Alright, so number one, the very first thing you need to do is feel the way disappointment feels in your body and get really comfortable with that. Again, it's just a feeling. So when I was asking you to feel disappointment, what did it feel like? Again, for me, I mentioned it's that heaviness in my chest. Now I'm so in tune with what it feels like that when I am feeling it. I asked myself, okay, what am I feeling. So when you're feeling that discomfort in your body, I want you to practice the ABCDs of feeling now I did an entire podcast on how to feel uncomfortable feelings, you can go back to it. It's one of my earlier podcasts.
But just as a quick review, A is you bring awareness to it. Bring awareness that you're feeling something uncomfortable in your body. B if you have it already, you take a deep breath. Okay, you're feeling something uncomfortable? Take a deep breath, see, call it out. Do you know what it is already. So if you already know it's a disappointment, I bring awareness that I'm feeling something uncomfortable, I take deep breaths, and I say this is a disappointment. I'm feeling disappointed. And if you don't know what it is yet, then you do D you describe it. So you say this is a heaviness in my chest. This is a discomfort in my body. And then I just keep breathing. I'm just right there with my body. Okay, this is a heaviness in my chest. This is a discomfort in my body. Okay, and then I asked myself, What is this? What am I feeling? And eventually, and I know the things that cause those feelings in my body. For me, it's usually a feeling of overwhelm a feeling of fear, a feeling of disappointment. And so ask myself is this overwhelm no is this disappointment, and then it hits? Yes, it's disappointment. So I want you to try that yourself. When you're, when you're feeling it, that's how you can process that emotion. The second thing you do is, you know, just bring awareness that it's a feeling and it will pass. Because what's happening to make it pass your hormones. So for the majority of us, our hormones are going to self regulate, the dopamine is going to self regulate, it's going to hit that regular hormonal level that it normally is, and the feeling will pass it passes. That's why That's why quote unquote, time makes everything better. Because your hormones self regulate themselves. So the feeling is going to pass. And as long as you're willing to feel it for that little bit of time, it will pass. So what's going to make it harder for you to process what's going to make it harder for the feeling to pass.
Number one, avoiding it. If you're feeling discomfort, an uncomfortable feeling and you avoid it, what's going to happen, what What you resist, persist, all you're going to do is make it stronger, because you're going to be doing all of those other indulge emotions that I mentioned earlier, watching Netflix, overeating, and all those things. That's what we do when we avoid emotions. And then it sets another cycle right you watch a lot of Netflix, you don't sleep, you feel exhausted the next day, at least that's what I do. Or you overeat and then you feel guilty or you shopping, you don't feel good about yourself. All of that is just making the disappointment stronger.
Number two, what's gonna make it harder is perseverating on the thought. Because just thinking about the same thing, just rethinking it reliving it in your brain causes that same decrease in dopamine, which is why right now when I asked you to feel that whole experience again, like think about a time when you felt disappointed and why you were able to feel it in your body is because just thinking about something causes all the things to happen. Clearly it's not a strong right you were able to pull yourself out of it. You're not feeling disappointed now But whenever you think about it again, so perseverating on it will cause a dopamine to decrease again and will cause it to be harder for you to move past the disappointment.
Alright, so what are a few other things that you can do, when you're feeling disappointed to help you process kind of a little bit quicker, number one, accept it. As soon as you can accept the outcome for what it is, as soon as you can accept it for what it is, then you let go of that disappointment cycle in your brain. Dopamine came, like for example, you got to your desk, the chocolates were in there, you were disappointed for a second, but you're like, oh, whatever, I'm not gonna get chocolates every time. And then you let it go. No big deal. Right? So that when you didn't make me anything, you weren't gonna get chocolate all the time anyway. So for me my example, you know, instead of being like, oh, my gosh, I'm such a failure. I had to take my time to go back and be like, Okay, so let me accept that I hit 75% of my goal and not 100%. What else did I do that was great. And how can I learn from everything that I did to make my next year even better? And that right, there was my superpower. That's the superpower when you can accept it. And you can keep going. And you know that you can separate it from your worthiness has nothing to do with you as a person has nothing to do with me. Maybe my goals didn't work out. But I'm not a failure. Look at all the things I've accomplished in life. I've done great things in life. That's your superpower. Okay?
The second thing is you can do healthy things that increase dopamine and serotonin naturally in your body, go for a run, go exercise, take care of yourself, avoid things that are going to give you the spikes in dopamine that are unhealthy, like again, drugs and alcohol give you those spikes and dopamine, but it's not healthy. And one good way to accept it too, if this is something that's helpful for you, is journal on it. Okay? Because what keeps us again, in that hurt of disappointment in that pain is when we don't want to accept the outcome. And something that it might sound like it's in your brain, but I should have gotten this or I should have done that. That's what I was doing in December. But I should have hit my goal. But I but I accomplished everything I set out to do. Oh my gosh, oh, my goodness, I love you so much. Alright, so I have this little baby picture of me that I shared a little bit about on the last podcast episode. And it's sitting right here on my desk. And so every time these like negative thoughts come up, I look at this cute little Vanessa, who's three years old, and this little red dress. And I'm like, what I say these mean things to her. Of course, I wouldn't say these mean, these are looking at you she is she's just so curious. And she's just like, so humble and kind. So, anyway, so right now when I said, Oh, Vanessa, I love you so much. It's because I was looking at that picture and thinking about, you know, like, these negative thoughts are crazy. And I wouldn't be seeing them to her, so I'm not going to say them to me.
Okay, so let's go on here. What is possible when you're willing to feel and accept disappointment? So first, let me tell you what happens when you don't what happens when you're not willing to feel it? Number one you avoided, okay, it shows up subtly, sometimes, like all that stuff I mentioned above, when you avoid it, and you indulge in other things. Or you might have that inner dialogue that sounds like this, my goal didn't matter. Anyway, who cares. And you might just feel this general sense of apathy. When you're feeling that general sense of apathy, you know, what's happening, what's happening is that your brain is being super sneaky, and your brain is micro quitting, it's taking these tiny little steps to quit on your goals a little bit at a time a little bit at a time. Because when you do that, when your brain does that, it thinks it's going to make the larger disappointment hurt less, because you didn't care about it anyway. So it's trying to create the sense of protecting you, in a sense of trying to protect you. But really, you're just causing you to quit the disappointment still gonna be there that disappointment, the dopamine is still gonna go down, it's still going to hurt, but your brain thinks it won't. Your brain is being sneaky.
So what happens when you're onto your brain now, let's say you're onto your brain, and you're willing to acknowledge that that disappointment is coming up, that your brain or when I say your brain, what I really mean here is your inner critic, that internal judge inside of you. But when you acknowledge that, that is what's afraid of your goal, it's not you. It's not you know, it's not Vanessa, who's afraid it's not this cute little Vanessa over here who's afraid of my goal of not meeting my goal. It's my judge, my inner critic was afraid. So a good thing you can do and that's coming up for you is you can separate yourself, your essence, the true you from your inner critic from that Judge inside your brain. And one thing that I recommend that you do is give your inner critic a name.
So my inner critic, I call her Georgina, the judge. And whenever those things are coming up for me, I'll say oh, look, Georgina, the judges afraid I'm not going to meet my goal. Okay, what that does again is it separates your true essence from your inner critic, and it takes the power away from your judge. It takes the power away from your inner critic. And number two again, so you name it. You call it out and say Georgina, the judge does If it makes it a little funny, it takes away the power of it and it separates the true you from your from your inner critic. And remind yourself that it's just a feeling when it's coming up and you're saying, oh, man, I might feel disappointed. Okay, I know what disappointment feels like, it's just that little bit of pressure in my chest, it's not a big deal, it goes away with time, I can go for a run, and it'll feel better, okay? And remind yourself that you are choosing to go all the way. Because the alternative is playing small, the alternative is being stuck. The alternative is not reaching for your goals. And that is not what I want for any of you. I want you to keep doing what sometimes feels uncomfortable, that uncomfortable work of growing and expanding into the next version of you. And the good news is that the more in tune you become with your body, the easier it gets for you to process those feelings.
So for example, for me, where disappointment used to hit me like a 10 out of 10, it's still there, I still feel disappointed sometimes. But now it's closer to a five out of 10. So you have a choice here. And the more you're able to practice what it feels like and let it go, the easier it gets to process next time. So when you're willing to feel disappointment, and any other hard emotion, opportunities just open up for you, you're willing to try new things. You're willing to say yes to new relationships to job opportunities, you're willing to learn from failures and keep going, which means you're willing to play the game of life on a really large scale, instead of sitting safely on the sidelines.
Alright, that's all I've got for you today. Now, next week, I want to remind you is the last week to enroll in the leadership accelerator. So if this resonated with you and you want to heal from old wounds, and you want to become a brain ninja, and you want to get all of the skills to play big at life, then I want you to go to my website right now VanessaCalderonmd.com Click on the leadership accelerator, and enroll the doors closed on March 31. Okay cuties until next time!
Hey mujeres. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate review and share it with a friend. And if you love what you're learning here, then you have to sign up for my weekly love letters. I send you all the good stuff, doses of inspiration and all the skills you need. So you can live lead and make money like the chingona that you are, subscribe on my website at VanessaCalderonmd.com. I'll see you there.