When you’re going after your dreams and really taking action toward your big goals, there will be occasional disappointments. For whatever reason, things won’t always go the way you hoped, even with the best planning and visualizations. The only way to completely safeguard against experiencing disappointment in our lives is for us not to try anything new or strive for anything beyond what we’ve already got. That leads us nowhere and stagnates our lives. If you’re like me, that’s not even an option.
So, the alternative is to fully embrace our dreams and keep trying to achieve our goals knowing that growth can be painful, and yet, extremely rewarding. Our best bet is to condition ourselves to transform our disappointments into breakthroughs.
To be honest with you, I don’t deal well with disappointment … at all. As a sensitive, deep-feeling writer, I’m especially susceptible to disappointment and all of its flavors. Although I ultimately handle it and keep moving forward, I still don’t like it.
It’s okay to feel disappointment. When I’m disappointed, I feel sad for a little while. It can take a few hours to a few days to fully recover, forgive the person and myself, and get completely back on track energetically. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes.
I think the key is to be honest with yourself and separate facts from emotions. How will you feel if you never try? How will you feel if you make progress? How will you feel if you actually achieve your goal? How likely is it to happen if you don’t try?
Fear is just an emotion. When we look at the facts of the situation, we can come up with a logical conclusion that we must go for it.
Most often I find that my disappointments are created by an unmet expectation I have of another person. Maybe a friend I believed in and trusted turned out not to be such a good friend after all. Maybe a guy I was dating misrepresented himself as a prince and turned out to be a toad. Maybe someone promised me they’d do something and then didn’t fulfill their commitment. These things happen and it’s a part of being human.
One time when I was disappointed by a guy I was dating, I was feeling very confused trying to make sense of his strange behavior. It was sucking up a lot of my energy and I didn’t like that feeling. I decided to make a list of the qualities of my ideal man (you can do this for business partnerships, friends, living spaces, vacations, etc. anything you’re trying to make a decision about). I had fun making the list and describing the way this wonderful man would be in the world and would make me feel when we were together.
When I reviewed the guy I had been dating against my list, I could clearly see that he wasn’t a match for me. None of his perplexing behavior mattered anymore because he just wasn’t a match. So, I was able to release all the energy I had tied up in figuring things out and feel the disappointment that he wasn’t an ideal man for me instead of feeling disappointed in myself (which is where I had been before the list). It made things so much clearer and easier to see.
When I feel disappointed, I try to be compassionate with myself and to give myself the space to deal with it (which can be very challenging to do). I withdraw from the situation or person who’s creating the feeling of disappointment for me and I think about it. Not just think, but fully feel it. I accept that I’m disappointed and feeling sad or angry or hurt. I journal about the experience. I’m better able to process my emotions when I write them down.
I may try to meditate to relax. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m still deepening my meditation practice and I try to be kind to myself when I’m not as focused and peaceful as I would like to be. It’s a work in progress.
Then, if I’m still riled up, I talk about it with a trusted friend (a person who is happy and successful in this area of his/her life). I give them the facts, share how I feel about it, and receive their input. No gossip, no drama, no sideshow.
In the past, I would keep it all to myself not wanting to be a burden to anyone else or show my vulnerability. I’ve learned that it doesn’t work for me to be a lone wolf. I process things and bounce back faster when I’m surrounded by a few trustworthy friends who can see the light at the end of the tunnel when I’ve lost my flashlight and can’t find my way.
So, I talk about it, get help/advice, and then I choose my actions. I don’t marinate in the feelings. I feel them, get them out into the open, decide what to do, and do it. I do my best not to look backward for too long. It can be hard, but it keeps me moving forward.
Once I commit to an action, I take it. I don’t second-guess it. I just go. So, in the case of a friend who’s let me down in a big way (for example, crossed a major respect boundary that is irreparable for me), I choose to forgive her and to move forward without that negative influence in my life. As much as I might think I miss her, when I separate facts from emotions, I realize that the person I thought she was is not who she really is.
People show us who they are with their actions, not their words, and we have to believe them. So, I really just miss the idea of who I thought she was (a good friend). I accept that, let go of the toxic relationship, and move forward as gracefully as I can.
Does it hurt at first? Yes. Does it hurt forever? No. It can feel like it will, but I promise it will subside over time. Sometimes much faster than you think.
Once you’ve brought it out into the light and taken action, distraction can be a nice tool to get your positive energy back to a higher level. Do something fun that completely absorbs you. Maybe it’s dancing, or watching the sunset, or going to an amusement park, or watching a movie, or going on a date, or painting, or getting swept up in a great book, anything that you enjoy that you can be fully present while doing. Be good to yourself the way you would treat a child who’s just gone through a heartbreaking experience.
Then, you just keep moving forward. Keep taking that next step and, before you know it, you’ve travelled a long distance and, you’ve grown and evolved in unexpected ways along the journey.
I believe the key is not to get down on yourself and not to give up. Everything happens for a reason and if we accept this and move forward, nothing can stop us. Connect with your passion for your goal (Why do you want it? How badly do you want it? What will you do when you have it? How will you celebrate? How will you feel?) and then go after it with everything you’ve got. You don’t have it now, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your breakthrough is just around the corner.
Go ahead, take a risk, and go for what you really, really want in life … you just might get it! And, if not, you’ve just created massive space for something new and wonderful to flow into your life. Either way, you win!
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