5 Things to Do When People Disappoint You

disappointment 2


We have all had days like yesterday was for me.  It felt like everywhere I turned, I learned about someone near-and-dear who had let me down.  The spectrum went from the extreme of betrayal—involving heart-deep issues—to a mild notion of carelessness on social media.

As I reflect on the milieu of emotions that have emerged from my visceral reactions to the day, I find that I have five responses.  I am not sure any are indicative of a psychological-rocket-science or of a necessarily profound wisdom, but I nevertheless share them with you, from one spirit to another.

  1. Ask, “Have I done the same to others in the past?”  For me the answer is simple: Yep.  Not out of cognitive intention, but nevertheless real and hurtful.  And I regret it.
  2. Remember purpose.  The seemingly “easy” answer is always to use the disappointment as a probably justifiable reason to quit.  To run away in a huff.  To get “offended,” and to try to start a new chapter.  I have rarely seen this strategy work.  True greatness emerges from tenacity, forgiveness, self-reflection and commitment.
  3. Don’t throw away all that has been cherished and learned.  Previous disappointments and anger bubble up at these times, and again serve as justification for walking away.  But that would mean throwing away years of learning, valuable aches of the heart, and the very principles that can lead to betterment.  How cavalier and careless!
  4. Ask, “Might they be experiencing heartache greater than my disappointment?”  Is it possible that my feelings are not the supreme beings in this reality?  Maybe my indignation could be replaced by compassion—or at least by a consideration of their perspective and lived experience.
  5. In short, consider, maybe this is not about me.    

(Last year, I created a similar post about strategies for responding to hurt.  See it here, should it be of interest.)

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