This week I had a disappointing experience. I felt that someone I trusted let me down because I didn’t get what I had expected. Feeling disappointed is painful and disheartening; it hurts us deep down.
Disappointment, according to the online dictionary, is a feeling of sadness caused by a non-fulfilment of our hopes and expectations. And therein lies the way out: learning to identify and examine our hopes and expectations before we take them as given. I wanted a piece of equipment that would support my vision of where I wanted my business to go. I felt I didn’t have time to do my own research, handing over my responsibility to another – hoping they understood my needs as well as I thought I did. Well, it turned out I didn’t express my needs as well as I thought, and they didn’t do what I expected and needed.
Barton Goldsmith in Psychology Today points out that we discover something useful every time we are disappointed: we find out what doesn’t work and isn’t in line with what actually is. If we can see this, then we have learned something valuable that we never need waist time on again. My own mini-crisis helped me clarify my real needs in this situation; and even better, helped clarify my process of expressing my needs to someone else.
He also notes that the longer we dwell on the disappointment, the angrier we get. We only have a finite amount of energy. If we choose to spend that energy being angry and venting that anger, we won’t have that energy available to us for anything else.
The alternative, he suggests, is gratitude – looking at what we have in our lives that brings us joy and contentment. I decided to call up a colleague who has some knowledge about my issue and we began to look on the silly side of the event – and that cheered me up and helped me to let it go.
One particularly dangerous form of disappointment happens when we disappoint ourselves. We may say something to a friend of colleague that we feel is insensitive or hurtful, or berate ourselves for not seeing something we “should” have caught. This kind of disappointment is never helpful: the truth is that our friend will give us the benefit of the doubt, and we need to do the same for ourselves. Simply make a brief apology and move on.
To recap: when we experience disappointment:
- See it as an opportunity to learn from what doesn’t work,
- Channel our energy into focusing on gratitude and what brings us joy rather than on building anger, and
- Give ourselves (and others) the benefit of the doubt – do what we need to do and then move on.
Life can knock the shout out of you …
Quote of the Week
We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.