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Overcoming Disillusionment with Life: A Guide to Finding Meaning and Purpose

by Gina Pickersgill(more info)

listed in psychospiritual, originally published in issue 287 - June 2023

Are you feeling disillusioned with life? Do you find yourself questioning the purpose of it all? You are not alone. Many people experience a sense of disillusionment at some point in their lives, and it can be a challenging and overwhelming feeling. However, with the right mindset and tools, you can overcome this sense of disillusionment and find renewed purpose and meaning in life.

In this article, we'll explore some of the reasons why people feel disillusioned, as well as some tips for finding your way back to a more positive and fulfilling outlook.


Image generated by the author using AI


Disillusionment can arise from a variety of experiences and life events. Some common causes of disillusionment include: 

Disillusionment in this context refers to a feeling of disappointment, disenchantment, or loss of hope when things don't go according to plan. It is a sense of dissatisfaction or a feeling that one's expectations have not been met, leading to a loss of faith in oneself or the world around them. 

Disillusionment is a complex emotional experience that can involve several areas of the brain. The brain's limbic system, which includes the amygdala and hippocampus, plays a significant role in processing emotions and memories, and is therefore involved in the experience of disillusionment.

Research has shown that when someone experiences disillusionment, the brain's reward system, which is responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation, may become dysregulated. This dysregulation can lead to decreased motivation and a reduced ability to experience pleasure from previously enjoyable activities.

In addition, the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making and executive function, may also be affected by disillusionment. Disillusionment can lead to negative self-talk and self-doubt, which can impair the prefrontal cortex's ability to make decisions and plan for the future.

Furthermore, the brain's default mode network, which is active when we are not focused on a specific task and instead engage in introspection or self-reflection, may also play a role in the experience of disillusionment. This network has been linked to self-referential processing, which can lead to negative thoughts and self-doubt.

Overall, the experience of disillusionment is complex and involves several areas of the brain. It can lead to dysregulation in the brain's reward system, impair the prefrontal cortex's ability to make decisions, and activate the default mode network, leading to negative self-talk and self-doubt.

Disillusionment can arise from various areas of life, including career, relationships, health, finances, education, personal goals, and family. 

When experiencing disillusionment, it can be challenging to stay motivated and find purpose, but it's important to remember that setbacks and challenges can also present opportunities for growth and learning. 

By staying resilient and focusing on the things that matter most to you, you can overcome disillusionment and find renewed purpose and meaning in life.

Reasons for Disillusionment

  • Disappointments When things don't go according to plan, it can be easy to feel disillusioned and lose hope. Disappointments can occur in various areas of life, including:
  • Career When you don't get the job you want or are passed over for a promotion, it can be disappointing and lead to feelings of disillusionment.
  • Relationships When a romantic relationship or friendship ends, it can be challenging to move on and can lead to a feeling of disillusionment in your personal life.
  • Health When you experience a health setback or diagnosis, it can be easy to feel disillusioned and lose hope for the future.
  • Finances Struggling with debt or financial setbacks can be a significant source of disappointment and frustration.
  • Education Failing an exam or not getting into the school of your choice can be disappointing and lead to feelings of disillusionment in your academic life.
  • Personal Goals When you don't achieve a personal goal, such as running a marathon or writing a book, it can be easy to feel like a failure and lose motivation.
  • Family Strained relationships with family members or difficult family dynamics can also lead to feelings of disillusionment and disappointment.

Remember that disappointments are a natural part of life and everyone experiences them at some point. However, it's important to remember that setbacks and challenges can also present opportunities for growth and learning. 

By staying resilient and focusing on the things that matter most to you, you can overcome disappointment and find renewed purpose and meaning in life.

  • Unrealistic expectations We often have high expectations for our lives and when they don't come to fruition, we can feel disappointed.
  • Lack of purpose If we don't have a clear sense of purpose or direction, it can be difficult to feel motivated or fulfilled.
  • Burnout Overworking ourselves without taking time for rest and self-care can lead to a feeling of emptiness or disillusionment.
  • Existential crisis When we start to question the meaning of life, it can be easy to feel lost and disconnected from the world around us.

Tips for Overcoming Disillusionment

  • Practice gratitude - One of the best ways to combat disillusionment is to focus on the things in your life that you are grateful for. Take some time each day to reflect on the good things in your life and express gratitude for them.
  • Set meaningful goals Setting goals that align with your values and passions can help you find purpose and direction in life. Make sure to break down your goals into smaller, more manageable steps so you can make progress towards them. When it comes to setting goals, one helpful framework to keep in mind is the acronym SMART. 

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This framework can help ensure that the goals you set are clear, achievable, and aligned with your overall objectives.

To break down the SMART framework, let's take a closer look at each component:

  • S - Specific: Goals should be clearly defined and specific, so you know exactly what you're working towards. Vague or ambiguous goals can be difficult to achieve because there's no clear endpoint.
  • M - Measurable: Goals should also be measurable, so you can track your progress and know when you've achieved them. Measuring progress also helps you stay motivated and focused on the end goal.
  • A - Achievable: Goals should be challenging but achievable, so you're motivated to work towards them but not overwhelmed. Setting goals that are too difficult can lead to frustration and burnout.
  • R - Relevant: Goals should be relevant to your overall objectives and aligned with your values and passions. Setting goals that aren't aligned with your interests or values can be demotivating.
  • T - Time-bound: Finally, goals should be time-bound, meaning they have a clear deadline. This helps you stay on track and motivated to complete the goal within a specific timeframe.

By keeping the SMART framework in mind when setting goals, you can ensure that you're setting yourself up for success. Remember, setting goals is an ongoing process, so don't be afraid to adjust or refine your goals as you progress.

Take care of your physical and mental health When we neglect our health, it can be easy to feel disconnected from ourselves and our surroundings. Make sure to prioritize self-care activities like exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep.

Cultivate meaningful relationships Connecting with others and building strong relationships can help us feel more connected to the world around us. Make time to spend with friends and family or consider joining a group, club or association that aligns with your interests.

Engage in meaningful activities Engaging in activities that align with your values and passions can help you find purpose and fulfilment in life. Consider volunteering, taking up a new hobby, or pursuing a passion project.


Feeling disillusioned with life can be a challenging experience, but it doesn't have to define your life. By focusing on gratitude, setting meaningful goals, taking care of your health, cultivating relationships, and engaging in meaningful activities, you can find renewed purpose and fulfilment.

Remember, life is a journey and there will be ups and downs, but with the right mindset and tools, you can navigate through the challenges and find your way back to a more positive and fulfilling outlook



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About Gina Pickersgill

Gina is a transpersonal coach who brings multimedia to her practice.  She created an authoritative eMagazine on NLP and Healing, based on The Healing Pool, a virtual sanctuary she owns in Second Life as her avatar 'Nina Lancaster'.

An NLP Master Practitioner and Certified Society of NLP Trainer, Gina assisted co-creator of NLP Richard Bandler on their London NLP, seminars from 2001-5.  Originally training as a fitness instructor specializing in fitness for the fuller figure, she gained a degree in Sports and Exercise Studies in 1999 and introduced the concept of Lifestyle Coaching to Virgin Active Health Clubs. She is a published holistic article writer and regular contributor to NLPLife Training Newsletter. Gina is now focused on working towards a new paradigm of delivering NLP training to a virtual world audience via various forms of multimedia platforms in partnership with sponsors and organizations.

Gina is passionate about raising awareness of virtual worlds, their potential for training change and personal development, where they will have the best benefit to a global audience, as well as to those who need more traditional methods of learning such as books, CDs, audio and one to one coaching.

Gina may be contacted via Tel: 07932 958 262;  Havening Techniques

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