“We must expect finite disappointment, but not lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King Jnr
We have all been disappointed. Sometimes it’s because we have set our standards so high that no one can reach them, sometimes we have failed, sometimes others have failed us. Disappointment is a part of our human experience, and it can sit somewhere between despair and hope. We despair that it has happened, but we hope it will never happen again. The truth, of course, is that it will.
I recently found myself at the mercy of disappointment. It was a disappointment I had not seen coming; I believed that both parties were on the same page. And then, out of nowhere, it was off.
This happens all the time in collaborative partnerships and business dealings: directions change, budgets are re-assessed, but what I was disappointed in was not the agreement falling through, it was the way it was communicated.
“We must expect finite disappointment, but not lose infinite hope.”
One thing I know about people is that we all live from our own perception; we all have ways of seeing the world, how we live in the world and therefore how we communicate with each other and ourselves.
So how can we deal with disappointment, then turn it to our favour?
Firstly we need to able to say to ourselves, “I am disappointed in this outcome.” Instead of pretending ‘everything is fine’, admit the disappointment.
We have so many ways of hiding our emotions, but just sitting with the phrase “I am disappointed right now” can bring immense clarity and calm. If we are able to just sit with what we are disappointed about, we can create emotional shifts away from disappointment; sometimes just admitting it allows us to move on.
It is not the details of the situation that disappoint us, it is the feelings the situation brings up.
The next step can be to explore what is it exactly about the situation you are disappointed in? It is usually not a long list of things: it is not the details of the situation that disappoint us, it is the feelings the situation brings up.
Does it bring up feelings of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, vulnerability?
When the time is right, the last part of this process allows us to ask, “Did I have a role to play in this not turning out? Was I clear in what I expected? Did I ignore ‘a hunch’ or feeling I had?” If we are willing to look, it can be very enlightening.
When we are able to admit that disappointment comes from our own perception of how things should be, we give ourselves the opportunity to look at things from another angle; there is the possibility of growth and new opportunities.
Each of us can choose to live a life that is full of optimism and possibilities, where we learn from all of the situations life throws at us. Or we may choose to live a life where we constantly fear disappointment; we avoid any opportunities where we may be let down, rejected or betrayed. We do not go for the promotion, ask that person out on a date or say “I love you”, just in case we are disappointed, just in case we are hurt.
Today’s coaching questions:
What was your last disappointment and what feelings did it bring up for you?
What did you learn about yourself?
How do you think you have grown from the experience?
Image from Flickr.