If there is one predictable thing in this life, it’s that you will be disappointed somehow. It can start young – your parents don’t parent well, your teachers are bullies in school, your friends turn on you for no reason – or it can happen later in life; someone you care about betrays you, you lose a job you love, or you are let go after many loyal years. As Alexander Pope famously said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.”
To navigate through disappointment, is it as easy as simply having no expectations? That’s pretty tough to do in a world that expects a lot from you. Parents today can be preparing their kids for college when they are just learning how to read and write! It might be expected that you will be highly successful, find the “right one” and settle down happily ever after, and be rewarded for the hard work and toil you have put into your job. Kids learn fairy tales and while there can be trauma and difficulty, most of the heroes and heroines go on to live happily ever after!
If you are wired to expect the best, and then you are let down and don’t get it, disappointment and letdown can actually trigger a physiological response in the brain if you have a tendency toward depression anyway. So, when you find it harder to get up and brush yourself off and start over, it might be because your brain is physically preventing you from doing so!
But the choice of just staying in disappointment isn’t a good one. Think about the scenario – the event has happened. It’s past. You can’t influence it. You can’t change it. You can certainly ruminate over it and replay the many, many things you should’ve, could’ve and would’ve done differently if circumstances were different. However, the reality is that if you are reading this, it’s likely that the disappointment is in your rear view mirror.
There are things you can do to relieve yourself of disappointment from a past event, and prepare yourself for any disappointments that are likely to come in the future. How can you move out of disappointment and into more peace and happiness?
Life is definitely going to test you and possibly even throw you more disappointment as you move away from the most recent one, so continue to hone your skills and practice these steps. Remember that this is for life’s small and big disappointments, not significant tragedy. If you are experiencing PTSD or some other more severe reaction to a life experience, seek professional attention for support.