Managing Disappointment

02 March 2017 Written by 

Recently a lot of negative things happened all at the same time to our friend, Lorna. Lorna’s electric company mistakenly cancelled her account while she was on a business trip. Her phone service was halted for nonpayment even though she was paid up. An important business deal she had been counting on for financial security fell through at the same time.

She’d lost contact with one of her children in a spectacularly hostile way, and last but not least, the flight home she was on aborted in the middle of take-off when the thrusters failed. That means the plane didn’t have the lift to get off the ground. 

And that was exactly how Lorna felt about her life. For a person working on peace and happiness, she was overwhelmed. It felt as if too much negativity and hurt were coming her way. It’s relatively easy to get your electricity and phone service going again. When airline issues ground you far from home, there are solutions for that, too. But a crucial lost business deal and a loved one at war with her were disappointments that made her feel she just couldn’t get out of the pit of despair.

Disappointment is the state of being dissatisfied, discontented, or frustrated. A loved one hates you, or is in trouble, is tough to take. Wanting financial security and watching it drift away is also painful. How to get out of it? You’ve heard of the animals in traps (and even humans) that bite off a limb to escape and survive. That technique may work in the wild, but doesn’t work with the spiritual condition. And disappointment is a spiritual condition.

The Real and Imagined Trap

If you are actually caught in a trap and don’t have a cell phone to call for help and can’t get out even by gnawing off your feet, you have good reason for frustration and disappointment. For most everything else there is a solution.

Disappointments are nothing but failed expectations. If you expect your utilities to work, your loved ones to be reasonable and love you back, your flights to be on time and connect, your business opportunities to pan out just as you imagined they would, then you are bound to be disappointed quite a lot in life. Think of disappointments as rocks that drag you down. Here are 5 ways to let go of the weight.

1. Avoid disappointment by lowering your expectations 

Knowing that you have no control over the weather, equipment, billing systems, and the behavior of other people, you don’t have to take any setback as a personal disappointment. Planning without expecting any particular outcome lowers the stakes. It helps to know the negative outcome doesn’t matter that much.

2. Be grateful for small solutions

There is a feeling of relief and mastery when you repair what can be repaired. Lorna fixed her electricity and phone issues with two phone calls and the airline got her home on a nonstop flight. Arriving home safely filled her with joy, as did seeing the sunrise, and reuniting with her dog.

3 Letting go is the key to resilience

An author we know was rejected so much she was frequently in despair. It felt so personal. Judy thought she was a good writer and felt as if editors were torturing her every time her work was turned down. Other people we know experience the same feelings when they have a hard time getting a job, are laid off or fired, get hurt by a friend, lover, or family member. Or they simply feel awful when others seem to be having fun. The Taylor Swift song “Shake it Off” has been such a success because shaking it off is the key to resilience. Imagine putting those rejections in a party balloon and letting the breeze take them far far away.

4. Be optimistic 

It is a fact that optimistic people are happier, experience fewer disappointments, and enjoy life more. Optimistic people also live longer. Optimism brings also hope and confidence. It is the opposite of expectation. Think optimism as a lifesaver that buoys you up and keeps you safe in troubled waters while disappointment is a heavy weight that can drag you down. 

5. Listen to the Taylor Swift song.


Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Leslie Glass  

Read 4911 times Last modified on Friday, 03 March 2017 20:25
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Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass is the winner of the American Society of Addiction Medicine 2016 Media Award for her groundbreaking documentary "The Secret World Of Recovery." She is a journalist, playwright, the author of 15 novels and the founder of Reach Out Recovery. She is the producer/director of "The Secret World Of Recovery," and the teen addiction prevention documentary "The Silent Majority" which was distributed by American Public Television to all PBS stations in 2015. Leslie is currently developing more websites and technology to further the recovery and healthy living cause.
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