Dealing With Disappointment
I am a master at dealing with disappointment. When it happens, I can smile big and immediately feel peace and and joy and forget it even happened.
Is this not how you react when confronted with disappointment? No? Me neither!!
Disappointment sucks. There is nothing to enjoy about it, really. And yet, it happens. It is part of life and no matter how hard we try, we aren’t able to avoid it. At least not entirely.
So we can’t control when we will experience disappointment but we can determine how we will move through it. We can shift our perspective. We don’t need to live in it. We can feel it, investigate it (if needed) and move on.
I am writing about this today because I received a visit from disappointment. Something I wanted to happen didn’t. It didn’t happen the way I wanted it to happen anyway. And it sucked. My initial reaction (which I am pretty sure is natural to all humans-I mean, who would willingly embrace discomfort by default?) was to avoid it. But I know from experience avoiding doesn’t work. And it didn’t, because I couldn’t concentrate and kept being distracted by the giant knot in my stomach.
I finally caved in and decided to have a little chat with my visitor. It went something like this.
Listen, I am really busy and we’ve agreed I believe that everything happens for a reason, so in theory, disappointment, you should’t even be visiting, ok? And if you must, then we’ve also agreed you should be lightning brief. Especially for something as small as this. I have a lot of work to do and as you know I am also extremely self-motivated. So there, I’ve said hello. I acknowledge you are here. I feel you. Can you please be on your way now?
But disappointment can be a little stubborn sometimes and it didn’t go away. I needed a break anyway so I ran a bath, grabbed by favourite uplifting book and became even more determined to shake it off. I mean, come on!
And that didn’t make it go away.
Ok then! Let’s ask it some questions - I thought. I bet there is some fear in there. There is almost always fear hiding underneath. But we already know all of that. Let’s hear it anyway then, if we must.
And sure enough there was fear there. Disappointment was happy to show me. And so I let it. And when it was done, I decided it was time I did some of the talking. I was able to remind both fear and disappointment of all the times we had been looked after, when everything ended up working out exactly as it should. I was able to provide a little perspective and even shift the focus to all the good things that are happening for us right now. And it worked to some extent. The knot in my stomach was gone. But I could still hear their whispers. Disappointment -and now fear- were still there.
This is when I started thinking about this concept of how we process disappointment. And I started thinking about writing on disappointment. And after all of the chatting and feeling and thinking and writing a word that is so simple and so obvious and that I know so damn well came to me: surrender.
You see, no matter how experienced we are in our spiritual practice or how motivated or committed we are to our happiness, many times, the most powerful thing we can do is to simply let it go, let it be. Surrender.
I forget about this sometimes. Being a recovering type-A, I can jump to action too quickly. Because I know what to do and I know how to do it. And I forget that all of the self-knowledge in the world cannot help speed up the lesson or make me feel the feelings any faster. They have to run its course. Sucky or not, they visit for a reason. And unless I truly honour them and accept them, well, they are going to do their thing and stick around anyway.
And you know what? I bet by the time I am finished writing this, leave it alone for a bit and come back to it later on, I am going to realize I am no longer that disappointed after all. Or maybe I will. Maybe it will take me a little longer to shake it off. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. I can rest assured I’ve done my part. I’ve been a good host. I’ve let it be. And when I finally let go, I become free to continue enjoying living my life, exactly as it is, with disappointment and all.