Monday, May 12, 2008

Dealing With Disappointment

Have you ever dealt with disappointment?

I have experienced disappointment and can empathize with the range of emotions you might experience when life, people, or circumstances don't deliver according to expectations, or even hopes, or maybe even human decency.

Sometimes, people let us down. Friends fail to say the right things. Lovers leave and don't come back. Jobs don't come through with the money they promised. Work isn't as exciting or productive as it used to be. Or, maybe people flake out and don't do what we thought. People can also be greedy, selfish, or uncaring. Our health may fail us. New opportunities we expected don't show up when or how we thought they might.

Let's face it: there's a whole bunch of ways we can experience disappointment with people, work, love, and life. Often, these circumstances create frustration, anger, sadness, and a general feeling that life isn't what it could be. These feelings can lead to judgment, criticism, and resentment. Left unchecked, disappointment can lead to feelings of unhappiness, lack, and even depression.

What can you do when you feel someone has let you down?

1. What can we control? Well, first, remember that you cannot control other people. In relationships, unmatched and unrealistic expectations can cause problems with resentment, which may lead to judgment, contempt, and disconnections. Other times, people communicate in ways that leaves the other party confused. If we expect others to read our mind instead of expressing concern, we're likely to struggle to get our expectations and needs met.

2. Have we made clear what we need? Also, if we are frustrated with how people communicate, but haven't made clear how important this is to our needs, we may have set up an expectation without foundation.

3. Can the other party deliver what we want? Last, we may have communicated our concern clearly, but if the other party is unable to do what we most want, we still may have an unrealistic expectation.

I experienced some of the problems in a relationship this past year. I was expecting my partner to greet me with cheer, to discuss positive topics, dreams, and goals when we talked, but she was unable to do that. She was mostly only able to focus on her concerns, rants, problems, and challenges, and expected me to hear those things, without the cheer. Over extended periods of time, this mismatched expectation led to a major disconnect in our relationship. I started to talk over her and didn't let her finish her sentences. I basically repressed her. She ended up feeling I was selfish and only wanted to talk about my things. Can you see how my expectation for positive, cheerful talk either was not communicated properly or was met with a response or inability to deliver? I believe that this communication disconnection was at the root of the breakup I experienced after things boiled over.

It is wisest if you can catch personal disappointment up front and determine if you've communicated your needs, and set an expectation that your partner is able to deliver upon. If you fail to do either of these, you may end up dealing with disappointment.

How are you communicating?


Usually, when we are disappointed, something in our own action and attitude contributed to the situation where the other party did not match our expectations. Take stock in how you are communicating. Are you stating why you want certain things? Are you clarifying the underlying reason how you want things done? Are you asking these things of people who are capable of delivering them to you? Try to get a "yes" answer in each of your interactions to maximize your satisfaction with personal relationships and friendships.

Sometimes, people just out and out lie, cheat, steal or don't fulfill what they promised. If this is your situation, well, use the experience as a springboard for the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. If you don't want people to complain around you, don't complain. If you want others to be positive, be positive. If you want other people to respect you, be respectful of them, first. Often, we create our own reality by what we send out to others.

Pray and play together. I've read on a plaque that "A family that prays together stays together." Are you making it a point to pray together? Often, by putting our focus first upon God, it makes everything else more manageable. Second, are you PLAYING together? If one member of your family is off doing their own thing, they might be creating dissension. Sometimes, we all need to compromise a little in order to all have the time to play together and build better bonds.

What kind of quality TIME are you spending with the people you most care about?

My sister once told me that if I want to be closer to my nephew, that I ought to spend more TIME with him. It was a point well-taken. I went out and played golf with him that month and he later called me and said how much he enjoyed it. This, from someone who'd called me about twice in his life before that golf day. So, YES, the time we spend together matters.

What about the demands of parenting and time with each other?

Are you a single parent? Are you allowing your children to cut into the time you have with your partner to the point where you rarely have any quality time together? Are you a couple trying to raise children? Both single parents and coupled parents need to make sure they're spending time developing their relationship with each other instead of just parenting all the time.

Make the time for each other. Draw hard boundaries, and keep them. Make your time quality time. Do fun things together: go for a walk in nature, travel fun places, go dancing, go snuggle and make love. Make a "no cell phone except for emergency policy" and stick to it! If you make sure you get time that is specifically your time, and you'll have a happier relationship over the longer-term.

What can you do when an opportunity, job, or new growth of other sort didn't come through?

Sometimes, I wish I had a crystal ball I could look into that would show me both the macro and micro level of life and events around me. Wouldn't it make it easier? In reality, most people need to establish a master plan and then be flexible to adjust as life events might impact that plan. I try to first put it in God's hands.

I've personally been promised a job where the financial opportunity was supposed to be $20K a month, then found out later that most people in that job were really only making about $10K a month. It frustrated me to make less than I'd been promised. In that position, I had two choices: become obsessed over making $20K a month, leave for another job that might pay better, or accept the situation and make the best of it. It is not good to switch jobs every few months, so if you've faced this, you may be frustrated, disappointed, and even a little resentful or angry with your boss.

If this is your situation, focus on what you most want. Did you communicate your needs clearly? Have you taken the steps you need to take to achieve what you want with your job? Is this company, position, or boss able to deliver what you need if you make the right steps in your job? If the answer is "yes" to each of these questions, you're probably in the right position to meet your needs. If the answer is "no", then maybe it is time to consider other avenues of employment.

I've been in very difficult career positions in my past. One time, my company, Intelogic Trace, had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In my first meeting with Delta Dental, the client handed me the bankruptcy letter and asked me if that was what I wanted to talk about. Yes, it was rough! At first, I let it get to me. I recall being so stressed out that I ripped my dress shirt in half when it was missing a button after a trip to the cleaners. My girlfriend at the time said "Oh, I'm staying away from you!" Yeah, I was stressed out. Then, the next day, I woke up and thought "Hmm. How bad could this be? I mean, yes, I could lose my job, but so what?! There are other jobs, and if I embrace this, maybe I can turn lemonade out of this lemon!" So, I dug in and decided to be a beacon of positive energy, success, and growth IN SPITE of the bankruptcy.

Guess what? People responded to my shift in attitude in a positive way. Over time, I came to be known as the top salesperson in my region and went to the company Summit Club for achievement three years in a row. Sometimes, it pays to be positive and persevere.

What can you do when life or God doesn't seem to be listening?

I spoke with a friend about this recently. I was feeling particularly disappointed with several different people, my company, another career situation, and even some friends. The disappointment led to feeling depressed and that led to me feeling like life sucked. Can you relate? We've all been there. Well, in my experience, and my belief in God is that God is in all things. So, God is always there. God is always listening. God is always guiding, slowly, surely, through all of it. Sometimes we are offered challenges to see if we can create something new and exciting.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was offered polio and used it to create one of the top rehabilitation centers in the country at that time. Louise Braille lost his eyesight through the slip of an awl and used it to create an alphabet for the blind.

In every situation, we almost always can find someone worse off than we are. So, before you go do anything drastic, re-frame your situation and release what you can't control and focus only upon what you CAN control. We cannot control other people's reactions to our brilliant ideas. Some people may even snicker or put the idea down. We can only control how we think, feel, and act about our own dreams and goals.

Put aside the cloak of disappointment for the coat of happiness and fulfillment

So, put aside disappointment. Often, we receive disappointment to help us clarify more of what we want in the future. We gain new clarity and insight, along with a dogged determination never to experience the failure, loss, or setback in communication, health, job, money, or love, ever again. It is up to us to seize the moment and be who we want to be, communicate clearly what we need and desire, and find the situations, people, and places that are most apt to be able to deliver to the expectation we've set forth.

By matching our expectations with reality, and putting out what we most want to get back, we are highly likely to increase our happiness and fulfillment, thus improving our life and leading us back to the road to success, love, and joy.
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4 comments:

Susan Kledzik said...

Great topic!

There is one way to forever stop the flow of disappointment. This is not necessarily the easiest way, but once mastered, it will never touch your worried mind.

Don't hold expectations.

I know, easier said than done, but if you expect nothing from someone and accept all circimstances as they are, you will never be disappointed.

You will find that all circimstances serve a porpose and that they hold a very valuable lesson within it.

When you live without expectations, you effortlessly flow along the river of life. When you expect to find a beautiful waterfall up ahead and is doesn't appear, you become disappointed. However, if you expect nothing, you begin to see all the beauty that surrounds you and you forever see beauty in every circimstance, because you expect nothing.

Disappointement ends when we stop expecting. Let people be themselves and events happen as they are designed.

Expecting alternative events will not create them.

Life would be painless if everyone allowed events and people to unfold as they should:)

There would no longer be a need to struggle.

The key: Acceptance.

Susan Kledzik said...

Great topic!

There is one way to forever stop the flow of disappointment. This is not necessarily the easiest way, but once mastered, it will never touch your worried mind.

Don't hold expectations.

I know, easier said than done, but if you expect nothing from someone and accept all circimstances as they are, you will never be disappointed.

You will find that all circimstances serve a porpose and that they hold a very valuable lesson within it.

When you live without expectations, you effortlessly flow along the river of life. When you expect to find a beautiful waterfall up ahead and is doesn't appear, you become disappointed. However, if you expect nothing, you begin to see all the beauty that surrounds you and you forever see beauty in every circimstance, because you expect nothing.

Disappointement ends when we stop expecting. Let people be themselves and events happen as they are designed.

Expecting alternative events will not create them.

Life would be painless if everyone allowed events and people to unfold as they should:)

There would no longer be a need to struggle.

The key: Acceptance.

Seriously Fun Self-help! said...

Well, it's easy to say "don't expect" and "just accept" but I'm not sure I agree with that statement as a blanket cure for disappointment. Typically, it is wise not to over-expect from others. However, if we've communicated our needs and someone else agreed to those requests, it stands to reason that they MIGHT live up to that promise.

Yet, people are human and they let us down at times.

Acceptance also is easy to say, but harder to do - especially when a core value need is getting crossed. In my case, if someone is disrespecting I might take offense. How can you say "just accept it" when someone is destroying something you own, doing something you consider rude to you or others, or being a jerk?" Sometimes, we are more empowered to stand up for what we believe in, speak out, and if they don't respond either reprimand or leave.

This is especially the case with children, who often push boundaries to test us. We must speak up and let them know when they are out of line, or risk a bigger problem.

Adults also ought not be allowed to treat us disrespectfully, either.

So, just "accepting" is not always the correct answer, in my opinion. Sometimes, we must do the right thing, even if it makes someone upset. Acceptance CAN be the right answer, though, when it comes to whether or not we truly MUST respond in every situation. As they say, we need to choose our battles wisely.

Susan Kledzik said...

Great response! I totally respect where you are coming from:)

Have you ever heard of the author by the name of Eckhart Tolle? He wrote, "The Power of Now," and more recently, "A New Earth"?

There is much to be explained about the art of non-resistence that is well defined throughout "A New Earth," but I will try to keep my repsonse short:)


In response to communicating our needs, let me ask a blunt question,

"Why is it up to someone else to supply our needs?"

This is the problem with most relationships. Both people come with needs that need met, and when they are not, then they are continually dissappointed. This is because both people are coming from a place of lack, expecting the other the fill an empty space.

This is different from desires, however, because you can desire certain and specific things or relationships. That is the art of manifestation. When you attract that which you manifest, then you must practice acceptance.

You attracted it:)

You begin to realize that all the circimstances in your life you attracted. If it is adveristy you face, then there are hidden seems in the fabric of your own life that are looking to be noticed. But, all come through the manifestation of thought. Which, I know you understand, based on some of you other posts:)

If we truly learn and realize that all we need to do is desire something, and through the art of manifestation, attract it. All will be provided. We no longer need to desire it from others, because we can create it for ourselves.

In response to your message, "if we've communicated our needs and someone else agreed to those requests, it stands to reason that they MIGHT live up to that promise."

The thing about this statement is that we then create an image and expectation of another. If they do not live up to it, then we are hurt. But, who is to say that someone might not stear a different course? Perhaps, they didn't see the curve in the road when they made such promises. Then, how can such promises be made? When we practice the art of manifestation and realize that we attracted exactly what we had asked, then we can rest peacefully in that realtionship, knowing that it is exactly what you wanted.

But, that doesn't change the truth about life, in that, that only constant thing in life is change.

If the realtionship is what you or the other no longer desire, then you have to accept it. What would non-resistence accomplish? You cannot change another no matter how hard you try. But, if we could merely accept it, life would continue to flow the way it has been, is and will continue to do. We can put up a great fight, but we are merely resisting ourselves.

Non-resistence is no longer hanging on to that which no longer serves you. And, like I said, it's never easy:) But, when you stay true to yourself, let go of expectations of others and accept all adveristy, you will then be able to see the hidden lesson or benefit within it (as said by Napoleon Hill).

I'm sorry that my post is lengthy, but as they say, "you teach that which you learn" so I believe that I need to hear what I have to say, too....LOL!

In respone to "Yet, people are human and they let us down at times."

What if we just accept that all people are human? Then, how can they let us down? We would no longer expect them to be otherwise, like perfect or something:)

If someone is being a jerk to someone else, then they manifested it through there own thought. My getting into the argument would be to interfere with that person's lesson, so to speak. If someone is being a jerk to me, then I no longer see that person as "bad" or "evil" but as a response to my own thought.

Accepting what is present in your life is understanding that it is merely a reaction to what you've thought. There is no longer any reason to resist, because you've created it.

I would love to go into the topic of children, but I am very passionate about this. Perhaps, I will write something on my blog and forward the link to you. I will refrain here, because my respone is already a short story, I will continue the novel at a later time:)

I definitely agree with you, in that, one must be honest 100% of the time. But, I feel that is only when asked.

BINGO...."Acceptance CAN be the right answer, though, when it comes to whether or not we truly MUST respond in every situation."
You are totally right!

I say, don't chose when to battle, chose not to. You'll find that when you chose not to, the opportunities to battle cease.

I hope that what I've discussed here makes sense to you:) I HIGHLY encourage you to read, "A New Earth."

Let me know if you decide to look into it:)

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