Nobody likes to be disappointed. It’s never fun to get your hopes up only to have them crushed, but it happens. Things often don’t work out the way we want them to, that’s just a fact of life. Everyone experiences it. For those of us who struggle with anxiety though, disappointment can trap us in a spiral of negativity that’s hard to break out of.

A symptom many people with anxiety experience is obsessive thoughts, and sometimes that can lead to obsessing over something positive; you had a very promising job interview for a position you really want, you had a great first date with your crush, or maybe you have some fun plans with friends you’re excited about. It’s easy for us to get fixated on these ideas, sometimes it’s just as easy as getting caught up in the negative thoughts. But it can just as easily come crashing down.

The feelings we get from these obsessive thoughts can vary from person to person so I can’t speak for everybody. However, in my experience, I’ve felt a combination of excitement, hopefulness, and creeping anxiety that it’s all just going to go wrong. I have to put all my emotional energy into making whatever it is happen because I feel like if it doesn’t then I just have no hope.

When you put all that emotional energy into something it’s no surprise that disappointment can become so devastating. So when you get turned down for the job, your crush decides to cut things off, or your friends have to cancel last minute it can hurt. All that emotional investment comes back to bite you, it feels like everything sucks.

Disappointment is a normal feeling when things don’t go the way we hope, but when we put so much stock into the thing we want to happen it’s easy to look at things in a very black-and-white way. We either won, or we lost, or so it seems. But in actuality, we can still gain something from disappointment. I find it helpful to take a step back and reflect, check-in with myself, and see if I can learn anything from my experience.

It’s ok to feel bad for a little while, but eventually, you have to pick yourself up and push on. I know sometimes that’s easier said than done, and it can feel like you’re just banging your head against a wall. I’m not ashamed to admit I struggle with this a lot, sometimes I can be overwhelmed by disappointment. For example, I’ve taken a few extended breaks from dating because it just became too much. It’s ok to step back and give yourself a break, sometimes it’s the best thing to do for your mental wellbeing, but eventually, you have to get back at it.