All of us have times in our lives when we feel disappointed.
Some disappointments are small like when you plan a picnic and it rains that day.
Other disappointments are huge like losing a job or ending a long term relationship.
Disappointments can make us feel lost, confused, and downright sad.
They are times in life when we aren’t sure what to do next.
But do we always have to experience disappointments?
Can disappointments give us insight into something more significant about our lives?
OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE TAUGHT
When we get to the core of it, disappointments are really a misalignment between our expectations and our experience.
We expect something to happen, and we’re let down.
We expect something to happen, and it doesn’t.
But where do our expectations come from?
Expectations are basically preset rules we have already established in our minds about how we will interpret our experiences.
These rules are created from ideals that we have internalized from the world throughout our lives.
That’s why if something doesn’t meet our expectations, we judge it as wrong and negative.
I once saw this article circulating on facebook about how Disney movies have created misery for women everywhere because they depict men in an incredibly idealized way.
It was kind of funny, but there’s some truth to it!
If we are taught that our lives are supposed to look one way, and our experience is something different, we will certainly feel disappointment.
DON’T MAKE ME LET GO!
Even though we intuitively know all this about how expectations affect our happiness, we don’t want to let go of them.
You know why?
Because we don’t view it as letting go, we view it as “lowering” our expectations.
Who wants to do that?
We are deathly afraid of mediocrity…whatever that means.
The truth is, there is no such thing as lowering expectations. This is just another product of what we are taught is better or worse in life.
Letting go of expectations really means letting go of our judgement of an event in our lives.
It means realizing that it happened and that means it was meant to be.
This is very hard for us to accept because our level of disappointment shows how much meaning we have attached to that event.
That’s why we feel so lost. All of a sudden our expectations are shattered, so our meanings are shattered.
This is a tremendous thing to experience because our meanings are strongly tied to our sense of self and our view of the world.
HOW TO ILLUMINATE YOURSELF THROUGH DISAPPOINTMENTS
The best way to deal with disappointments in life is to examine your expectations around them. When we think about where our expectations come from, we can change our disappointments to acceptance, then to a peaceful heart, and eventually to empowerment.
Here are some questions that might help:
How do I think life “should” be? Is this consistent with what I’ve observed of life in general?
How could my upbringing have affected my expectations about life?
How has the dominant culture (TV, media, movies) affected my expectations about life?
What emotions do I view as unacceptable in daily life?
How much control do I think I have on how I feel inside?
Do I blame others for my disappointments?
What is one very small thing I can I do today to improve my situation?
What can I do tomorrow to improve my situation?
Have a great rest of the week!