I will disappoint you. I may even disappoint you more than once. Inevitably, you will disappoint me. For me, disappointment is one of life\’s most uncomfortable feelings. It\’s complex and stirs up other emotions such as anger, hurt, sadness and probably many others too subtle to identify.
Sometimes, the other stirred up emotions are by themselves easier to deal with, but disappointment can leave us in a bad spot. For me, I know this to be the case. Disappointment can creep up on us at any time, from something as minor as waking up too late to get that morning work out in, and then we are disappointed in ourselves, or it could be more intense such as feeling disappointed in a loved one for letting us down or hurting us.
Many people have dealt with life\’s disappointments over and over again and can react or respond in varying ways. I know some people who turn inward and do not get close to anyone anymore, because they feel as though if they get close, they are bound to feel these disappointing feelings, so instead they do not rely on others, do not engage emotionally with others and refuse to feel this feeling \”ever again.\” Sounds safe, right? Sure. It may be \”safe\” but there is a host of other potentially self sabotaging events that can take place with this way of coping. One thing that comes to mind, is the missing out on opportunities to connect, opportunities to feel vulnerable and opportunities to work and grow with feelings of disappointment. I guess for me, the option that makes most sense, is because I know I will be and feel disappointed over and over again, I have come up with some ways to help myself deal and cope with these feelings. Remember one of my previous blogs when I talked about \”sitting in the shit?\” Well, this is one of THOSE times… it is time to sit with the feeling of disappointment and these tips may be helpful:
Let it out. In today\’s world, we are taught that everything is immediate- we are under enormous pressure to move things along… even our feelings. Time seems to be very scarce these days- do not let this happen, try to just let yourself experience a feeling. Even when we grieve a loved one\’s passing, on average we are expected to take off 1-2 weeks from work (at most) and then we are expected to get back to normal again. I am not suggesting that we hibernate for weeks/months on end, but to be aware of any sense of the obligation to \”just get over it.\” I feel like this brings me back to my childhood, when I may have been disappointed in a relationship or friendship and the advice given was \”when are you going to get over it?\” I know this advice was not helpful back then, and it certainly is not helpful today. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling without any agenda of speeding up the process or working on someone else\’s timeline for how they feel you should be handling the given situation.
Get some perspective. When we allow ourselves to let it out, we are giving ourselves the time needed to experience the feelings of disappointment. You have treated yourself like a friend and allowed yourself the space you needed. Once you have done that, it becomes easier to get some perspective. When people disappoint us, they are not always aware that they indeed disappointed us. Or perhaps, they are experiencing a host of their own emotions that they are not allowing themselves to feel. Taking a step back and sitting with the feelings of disappointment and feeling uncomfortable, will allow room and opportunity for perspective.
Know your own heart. Disappointment can shake the core of who you are. It has for me! Time and time again. Knowing your own core values is important so you can remind yourself that when faced with disappointment, you can still be true to YOU and still choose to embrace and nurture your own values. For me, one of my core values is open-heartedness. I live with the intention to keep an open heart and share love and kindness. When I am disappointed and I feel like closing and withdrawing, I try and remember my core values, and try to pause to make a conscious choice. This is NOT easy to do AT ALL. It is always easier to choose feelings of protection for ourselves, by closing ourselves off, so we don\’t hurt or feel uncomfortable.
Practice acceptance. We are human, even though we know that some things are bound to happen, we\’re not always willing to accept them. Everytime I am disappointed, I feel overwhelmed by my emotions. I am inclined to withdraw and wallow in my feelings. Each time, I have to accept that I will feel these feelings again. I have to accept that I will continue to be disappointed. I also have to accept the fact that I will probably continue to struggle to accept this fact, at various points throughout the rest of my life! Practicing acceptance is a lifelong challenge.
So, for today…acknowledge that you have disappointed others and that others have disappointed you. You have made others uncomfortable and have felt it too. Do not choose to close yourself off from friendships, relationships, people, love or anything else because of it. Allow it to help you grow and allow it to help you be mindful and present in the midst of negative emotions and therefore live more fully.