You know that feeling of disappointment. I do too. When I was a child growing up in an alcoholic family I learned the emotion of disappointment all too well.
My mother had an odd way of protecting me emotionally. She thought that if she didn’t tell me, for example, that we were taking a trip then I wouldn’t be disappointed when it didn’t happen. This pattern of not telling me things stretched into all areas of our life as a family so I was never really sure as a small child what was going on. I just remember feeling confused an awful lot and that confusion was frightening.
What her lack of communication produced in me was an unsettling feeling of always being taken off guard – always being surprised and feeling unprepared. And, strangely enough, also the feeling that no matter what I wanted I would be disappointed and it wouldn’t happen.
As children you can get locked into a pattern very easily. My pattern of looking forward to something only to be disappointed had its roots in my mother’s need to protect us (and herself) from what she viewed as upsetting or unpleasant emotions.
In my mother’s generation there were no books talking about childhood emotional development. There was only the passing on parenting skills from one generation to the next. And if my mother could not process disappointment in her own life experiences then how could she possibly show me how to handle that same emotion.
And disappointment is a part of life, isn’t it? Just like joy and sadness and all the other emotions.
If you don’t know how to handle the emotion of disappointment, then past disappointments can color your present and future. That happened to me and it is only through developing a new way of understanding and expressing disappointment that I have been able to move on.
It can be truly difficult to leave the past in the past but that is the healthiest thing you can do.
So here are three ways to release disappointment that have worked for me:
1) First and most important is that now I allow myself to feel the feeling.
In the past I would distract myself by working or eating (my addictive nature) and not be willing to feel. Any disappointment needs to be grieved just like any other loss. So allow yourself to be sad. Allow yourself to express that sadness to those you love and trust. Ask for emotional support. Ask for a hug. And cry some tears if that is what you need to do. Realize emotions don’t need to be fixed. They just need to be experienced and expressed in order to be released and healed.
2) Divine Love and Protection
I have come to understand that many of the disappointments I experienced in my life were moments of Divine Love and Protection.
When my relationship with a man I had been planning to marry fell apart I was emotionally devastated but eventually came to realize that it wasn’t a good relationship from the beginning; nor would it have been a good marriage. And I have seen the hand of the Divine at work with jobs I wanted, business partnerships I sought and even submissions I’ve sent off for my writing work. Disappointments had me moving forward even when I didn’t realize that was what was happening.
Having this view takes a great deal of trust in the Divine and a belief that you are being guided in your life, even if you don’t understand it at the time. Several years ago I lost a business. I couldn’t see anything positive about that but it moved me into my work as a writer and that brings me so much more joy. With this approach I am much more accepting when things don’t turn out the way I wanted. And as I shift into acceptance I find my peaceful center and from that I find the energy to again move forward.
3) People will disappoint. Life will disappoint.
There is no avoiding these truths. But there is something you can do within yourself to help you release feelings of disappointment and even resentment towards others. Realize that you, too, sometimes disappoint other people. One of the truths I teach is that if you live an authentic life, one in which you give yourself permission to get your needs met, then you will invariably disappointment someone else along the way. That is because for every time you say ‘NO’ to what someone else wants it is a disappointment. Not for you but for them.
I’m sharing this because it helps in seeing disappointment as just another part of your and others’ emotional life experiences. No better or worse perhaps than any other. So when someone disappoints me I forgive as quickly as possible for any hurt I’m feeling; and I remember that you and I are just flawed human beings doing the best possible most days. Forgiveness of others helps me remember to forgive myself and that is an act of self-care.
If you can deal with disappointments in the present as they occur then it is unlikely they will color your present and future choices and experiences; but dealing with them in the present means finding a way that works best for you.
So take the time you need. Express yourself. Surround yourself with the energy of Divine Love and Light and realize that every experience is part of the process of creating the person you are always in the process of becoming.
See that person as worthy of the greatest love and respect. Acknowledge her courage. Appreciate his willingness to try again.
And know you are not alone.