Are there days where nothing seems to go right? Where plans, people, things all seem to wrong? This week I’m writing about disappointment, when the gap between expectation and reality opens up and you are left with an emotional hole inside.
Disappointment can happen on many different levels, from the relatively trivial ‘I spilled my drink, and I was really looking forward to it’ to the seismic such as ‘I didn’t get that job I wanted; that person doesn’t feel the same way as I do about them; I feel hurt or betrayed by you.’
It’s a feeling that’s often tied up with lots of others, sadness, anxiety, anger, loss for example. As adults, we have to come to terms with how life doesn’t always go to plan and the consequences, when that happens.
Disappointment connects with other themes I’ve written about here: resilience, loss and what happens to us through pain, crisis and failure. It’s interesting to notice what happens when you feel disappointment. Do you brush it away and just get on with things? Do you feel stung, but the feeling passes and you move on? Or do you brood and agonise over the twists and turns that led you to the disappointment?
Those are all normal responses and no doubt there are others that you may experience too. When we get caught up in the thought processes of replay, analysis, what ifs, we can end up distancing ourselves from the feelings that have come up through the disappointment.
That might be fine as a coping strategy, but at some point it’s likely the feelings will come to visit. How will you welcome them, or not? If it feels unfamiliar to let yourself be fully in the experience of disappointment, there’s a chance you might be missing out on a few things:
- The opportunity to experience the loss and sadness associated with the disappointment – it may be something very big you have to come to terms with which deserves a deep sense of loss
- The possibility of anger or frustration – a sense of injustice or unfairness or powerlessness might need to be aired and could get acted out in other ways or with other people
- The possibility of reflection and learning – developing an understanding of any role you may have had to play in the disappointment, as well as the role others may have played
- The connection with new possibilities or alternative perspectives – sometimes a disappointment might feel like a door has closed but what else can emerge in the creative space that is left which might be unexpected
There’s no right or wrong way to live disappointment but an openness to the fullness of the experience, however hard it might feel at the time, opens up the possibility for movement and change while doing what might be some well needed wallowing. Wallowing is not about limitless self-pity, but immersing ourselves in the muddy experience of disappointment, before sunning ourselves in new possibilities.
Need to work through a disappointment?
If you have experienced disappointment and the sadness and depression that can come with it, and would like to explore this further, why not get in touch for a first counselling appointment.
By Matt Fox Counselling in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott www.mattfoxcounselling.co.uk
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Photo by Bekah Osborne licensed under Creative Commons