Disappointment – part TWO – CASE STUDY – Warning…not pretty at parts!
Yesterday I wrote an article about disappointment and what we can do when we feel it rising up inside us. Sometimes we need a little more than one post to grasp the concept and since this is a topic that comes up OFTEN for most people – it needs a little more diving into.
I recently was able to sit in on a conference call with Tamu Smith and Zandra Vranes – authors of the hilarious book, “Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons: Finding the Lord’s Lessons in Everyday Life”. Tamu was saying that what is helpful for her is knowing the DETAILS. She said that people get up in church and give these vague responses to deep questions and she’s left feeling confused. Like, “How can you feel the love during family home evening?” and the responses are, “When we read our scriptures.” – she’s like, what? My family nights aren’t like that – when we’re together we’ve got kids running about and it’s chaotic – tell me exactly how you do those evenings. What does that look like EXACTLY. That’s how I learn. I listen and want to know details then I can adapt it to my family but I need to know those details. The general answers don’t work for me.” (paraphrasing from this call).
So today…because disappointment is a BIGGIE in EVERYONE’S life I’m gonna give you details. I’m going to walk you through a disappointment for me and step by step tell you my wins and small successes with it and major loses (more loses than wins). So you can see how these steps can work for you and how you can adapt them in your life. Ready???
NON-FULFILLMENT OF ONE’S EXPECTATIONS
Remember, the definition for disappointment is: “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations” – Keep this in mind as I recall this event. You’ll see where I was creating the disappointment big time.
Barnes and Nobels
So years and years ago an old friend that reached out to me and invited me to meet her at this midnight release of one of her favorite books. She knew I was a bookworm and that I’d most likely be the only one crazy enough to wait around at Barnes and Nobel until midnight to get a book. Who knows? Anyway, I wrestled with my decision. It’s late. I’m tired. I was a momma of two little, little kids at the time. It was over an hour away. I dunno…But I felt this tug that I didn’t want to leave her hanging. It would be fun. We always enjoy getting together and maybe it’ll be like old times? I did want to hang out with her. I’d been meaning to schedule a time but life is busy so…this one, kids will be in bed. I could use a break too! It’ll be fun once I’m there. Okay, let’s do it.
Fast forward to that evening. I show up at 9:00pm – when the activities are beginning and such. No Megan. I call her. No answer. I think, Okay, she’s always late. I’m just going to find a book and park it somewhere. So I did. 10:00. No Megan. I’m looking around feeling foolish with all these groups of people congregating and playing the games and high spirited activities the store employees were hosting. Being very aware that I’m the ONLY one by myself I find a corner as alone as I could get and I call again and again (not to mention the other 50 times I called between 9-10) No answer. I’m starting to get really frustrated and annoyed that I drove all the way out here, mostly as a favor to HER and she can’t even be bothered to show up when she asked ME to???
ALONE, ALONE, ALONE
I stand up. I’m done. I’m about ready to leave when she calls. “Oh, Hi! Yeah, sorry I’m late! I’ll be there REALLY soon!” – Ooooookay…sure. She is a total flaker. I’ll wait…again. Mind you, this is PRE- iPHONE days! Gasp! I know!!! I didn’t have a phone to play games on, to text others and who was I going to call this late? My other friends also live over an hour away. I’m on my own. It was way too loud to really read because the store was full of rowdy, excited 18-20 somethings. 11:00…Still no Megan. I’m about ready to leave when I call her again to let her know this was super fun (laced with sarcasm) but I’m out. She pleads with me to stay. It’s not her fault such and such happened and she’s almost there. Don’t leave! Just wait.
11:30…11:30!!!!!! – I’m obviously a glutton for punishment…I was also a young early 20 something myself at the time. She FINALLY shows up…with a slew of friends and their giggling and laughing at these inside jokes and just having a fabulous time. I’m kind of appalled. I thought she asked me because she wanted to hang out with me. Because she didn’t have anyone else to go with. Because we both like reading and this could be fun to do together. So she smiles and says, “Hi there! We’re actually gonna hang out over here. So in so (I don’t remember his name) wants to go talk to that group of people. Catch ya later???”
NO WAY THAT JUST HAPPENED
No. No. No. Way that just happened. I don’t even think I said a word before she was swept away with her group. It would be an understatement to say how upset I felt. I was so, so, so angry. Shocked about this whole situation and appalled at this whole scene but really, deep, deep, deep down I was so hurt, SAD, and oh-so disappointed. I had these expectations and hopes that we’d hang out and laugh and talk about books. We’d eat junk food and just have a super happy time. So naturally I was sorely disappointed about that whole situation. What I really wanted to do was cry. But how could I? I was technically and adult…with two kids. Adults don’t cry over things like this (or so I thought). Plus it was now like 11:45. I wasn’t going to leave and go home when within 15 minutes I could get my new book. I wanted to make that evening worth something.
I felt stupid, and ridiculous, and oh so alone. HOW in the world was I going to get to a point where I could be GENEROUS (step 5) towards her??? I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to yet. I wasn’t where I’m at now then. In fact, I held onto that bitterness for a long, long time. Mostly out of self-preservation – that I didn’t want to feel that way again, to feel let down like that. But…if I could go back this is what I’d tell myself:
ADVICE FOR MY PAST SELF
Step ONE: You’re not a victim. SHE didn’t make you feel ANYTHING – She CAN’T – NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL ANYTHING. You’re disappointed because you had these ideals of how the evening SHOULD go. You’re creating that disappointment and causing that sadness because of your thoughts…and that’s OKAY. Just OWN it, sister! Say, I’m CHOOSING to be disappointed right now. I’m CHOOSING to be upset. By owning it, it also means that you can leave it when you want. It’s not owning you – you’re owning it. I’m CHOOSING to be disappointed…and that’s okay.
Step TWO: So WHAT??? What are you making this situation mean???
Well, I’m making it mean that she doesn’t really like me. That she didn’t want to spend time with me. That I was an after thought. I felt like a loser sitting there for HOURS all alone. Maybe I was one? If I was important to her she wouldn’t have invited “the boy” too – this was supposed to be girls night!!! – no boys allowed. Plus!!! We’ve been friends FOREVER – friends don’t do this stuff to their friends! And how long has she even known “the boy”??? The fact that I don’t even know his name says enough. I did all this for her – drove out here for HER – I could have waited for the book to reach the store shelves. I could be home with my husband in my warm home but instead I’m surrounded by high spirited teens and overly excited barnes and Nobel employees who keep coming by me – probably out of pity! and offering me buttons and stickers and all kinds of ridiculous things…that really would be cool if I didn’t feel like such a loner. Gah!!! These are the thoughts that circled in my head. – OF COURSE I was feeling like crap! Look at those thoughts! What else COULD those thoughts generate??? – Which again, is OKAY…just know your role in all of this.
Step THREE: How do you WANT to feel? – Well, I’d want to feel better. I want to not feel like a loser but show up confident. In reality I got to spend HOURS alone with books…which is kind of a dream for a mama of two little kids – one still a baby. – What you want, how you want to feel…Those emotions are available NOW IF you want them. When you’re ready to create them, they are there.
Step FOUR: Don’t resist what you’re feeling. Be willing to FEEL it. The pain you’re feeling is amplified by your resistance to it. Tell yourself, I’m feeling disappointed. Hi, disappointment. It’s you again. Recognize it, talk to it, acknowledge it being there. Then you can work through it.
Step FIVE: Be Generous in your thoughts towards her. HECK NO. SHE is the one that didn’t show up for ME. Why should I be generous with HER??? SHE needs to fix this for ME!!! I was here, waiting for HOURS. This is HER fault. – When you’re feeling that, it’s okay. It means you’re not ready to leave step FOUR – Go back – Feel it. Grab a sheet of paper (or a stack depending on how upset you are) and go to town writing and writing and writing. It feels good to get it out of your head. Your brain just wants to be heard most of the time. You can’t expect to fill it with generous thoughts and thoughts to heal and move on when you’re still full of anger, hurt, and sadness. Write it out. (NOTE on this at the bottom)
GENEROSITY FOR YOU – NOT FOR THEM…yet
Now…be generous…this is NOT for HER. This is for YOU. Remember, YOU are the ONLY one feeling what you’re feeling. You could give her the stink eye but she’s too absorbed in that boy she’s hanging on to notice your glares. Give her the benefit of the doubt so YOU can feel better. What could you say? I could say that she’s younger than I am. She’s unmarried and obviously smitten with that boy she came with. She probably wasn’t trying to maliciously attack me. She was too involved in getting his attention that she didn’t even think about me. She’s still young. She’s still learning. And really, I do love her as my friend. Even if she did show up really crappy tonight it doesn’t take away all the other times she was great and there for me. She’s just braindead tonight because she’s transfixed on “the boy” – stupid boy. However, I love being married. I love, love, love my husband. I love being a Mama. I want that for her too. Okay, I do hope she has a great time tonight with “the boy”.
Content AND Disappointed
Yes, I still felt disappointed because I had high hopes for the evening. But I’m not wallowing or in the depths of sadness or bitterness anymore. I could let that go. I can feel happy for her, content in my own body, and still disappointed in her. Just like you can feel how you WANT to feel (happy, excited, joyful, at peace) AND still feel disappointed. It’s okay to feel BOTH – but the main feeling overrides the negative one. The HAPPY is more present than the disappointment and not the other way around.
That disappointment isn’t overtaking my mental health. It’s not in the drivers seat. It’s more like the hood ornament on the car. It’s still there. I can still see it. I can still feel it there. I’ll still need/want to tell her in a later setting that I was hoping for a different outcome. I can make requests for next time. I can tell her that what I thought she did was messed up and not the way to win friends…but all this will then come from a place of LOVE and PEACE and NOT from anger and bitterness.
Case study over…Lesson:
We’re all going to be disappointed because we live in a world of diversity. Everyone has their own minds with their own ideals, standards, social norms, and ambitions. Disappointment isn’t anything to shy away from. It’s an emotion much like sadness or happiness. We don’t think because we overcame sadness once in our lives that we’ll never feel it again. No. We expect that we’ll feel it again but each time we’re also getting better at navigating our way through it. Same here. We’re inevitably going to feel disappointed…probably a lot…so why not start practicing the tools needed to help you safely carry yourself through it and manage it when it comes so it NEVER takes the drivers seat again and leaves you feeling like a victim or powerless to it.
You are always in control. You have the power. You are so much more than your emotions. You have the great gift of agency and being able to choose one thought over another. The better you get at learning HOW to be generous with others the BETTER you’ll feel. Get really good at it – if not for them – for YOU. You can totally do disappointment. You got this.
BRAIN DUMP – TENSION RELEASE
***Note on the writing portion: There’s lots of ways you can do this. You can read more about one way here – this is when you want to look at your thoughts that you’re not even aware you’re having and then you can be curious of them. Other times…like this one…you’re already owning your thoughts and emotions but you just need to write and write and rewrite over and over again just to let off some tension. When I’m feeling this way – which isn’t often at all I write like this. I write for as long as I need to every which way. I keep it to one piece of paper and go sideways, turn the page and write that way, upside down, etc. I use that page to it’s fullest and at the end I always feel better. I needed to acknowledge the thoughts but not TO anyone. Just to get it OUT of my head. – Don’t try to read it – you’ll be wasting your time – I also didn’t label it so I don’t even remember why I was so tense! Which is GREAT! because I’m not harboring ANY remnants of that day and reliving any of those moments. I just see it as a release. I felt upset and this helped…the end. Plus now, it feels kinda cool like some new form of braille because I was pushing so hard on the page! 🙂 I can laugh about it now because it’s just a part of humanity. It’s okay.
TRY IT. You’ll be amazed at how beneficial it is in helping you to MOVE ON and FEEL BETTER!
Questions? Have your own stories of disappointment? Want to try out the 5 steps in a past disappointment? It’s cleansing and helpful! Please try it and then if you’re comfortable LET ME KNOW how it goes for you! I’d love to hear your experiences
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