Disappointment can strike you like a ferocious tidal wave on a calm summer’s day. It takes you by surprise, plunges you into an icy, suffocating darkness, washes away your energy, erodes some of your hope, and snaps off a little piece of your heart. I’ve experienced a few disappointments in recent times and it’s hard not to let them trip you up.
According to Ardictionary.com, disappointment is “a feeling of dissatisfaction that results when your expectations are not realised”. The only reason we get disappointed is because something happens outside of our control. Our expectations are shattered. We want to control how someone behaves towards us or how we expect a situation to turn out. When life rails against our wishes, we experience an extraordinary sense of disappointment.
By dissecting the word, it can be broken down into “dis-” and “appointment”. The prefix “dis-” has a negative or reversing force on what comes after it. An appointment is “a fixed mutual agreement for a meeting or engagement.” (Dictionary.com) You had a plan and this plan was obliterated. You feel as though you’ve just been knocked down by the tsunami created by the aftershock of this disappointment. The trick is not to allow yourself be swept away by the current of negative emotions that arises.
When you suffer a disappointment, be it having been rejected or dumped, when a friend lets you down or a family member behaves in a way that hurts you, or your holiday/business/career plans are dashed, you need to do two things.
1. Realise that this person’s behaviour has nothing to do with you. It’s all about them and what’s going on in their world. Also, everything happens for a reason. Trust that all will work out in the end. Focus on the bigger picture. Perhaps this partner/friend/trip/business idea was not the one for you. Or the timing wasn’t right. Ultimately, you will be thankful for this disappointment as you will be open to something better coming your way.
“Disenchantment, whether it is a minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition in our lives.” William Throsby Bridges
2. Recognise that how you feel and react as a result of this disappointment is all about you. Delve into the emotions that are overwhelming you and get into the bodily sensations you are experiencing. Ask yourself why you’re upset/angry/hurt. Are you placing too much of yourself into the hands of one person or plan?
I spent a large part of my life feeling that I had to do it all on my own. I believed that people were inherently selfish and would let you down. I needed to be independent and self-sufficient. As a result, I found it hard to get too close to people. However, in recent times, my experience of people and the world has altered. I’ve come into contact with good people, who go out of their way to help others. I started to see things differently. It was like a rainbow had exploded across the charcoal canvas of my world.
I didn’t want to see the blacks and greys any more. I focussed on the bright and vibrant colours. But that was not being real either. Life is made up of darkness and light, happiness and sadness, grief and excitement, faith and loss, hope and disappointment.
It is important to be independent. To be okay on your own. To do your own thing and follow your calling in life. And if someone wants to help/befriend/date you, accept that as an added bonus. And if they take their altruism/friendship/affection away, it will not devastate you because you are still a whole person.
We all go through difficulties and disappointments. This is a requirement for growth. These times offer us a lot of learning if we are willing to look inwards. They enable us to greater appreciate the beauty and possibilities that arise. It may feel like it will never stop raining and that you’ll drown in the mud. Just know that, after the fright and fury of the storm, a rainbow flashes her colours…