November 22, 2019

Last week, a reaction I wasn’t expecting from someone dear to me left me feeling very disappointed. I put a lot of effort into creating something special for both of us and imagined how wonderfully it would be received. When the response didn’t match my expectations, I felt angry and let down—as if I had been betrayed.

Ruminating on this disappointment for a couple of days, I vacillated between blaming myself for not anticipating the disappointing reaction and plotting my revenge on the person who let me down. I “built my case” about how I was wronged to anyone who would listen, letting the story get bigger and more egregious each time I told it.

How was I going to get past my negative feelings? More importantly, how could I prevent something like this from happening in the future?

I did my best to put my feelings aside – trusting that time would bring more perspective to the situation. The right message showed up for me the very next day. In the process of prepping for a yoga class I teach, I and came across on The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The agreements offer a code of conduct to help you move past self-limiting beliefs and find more freedom and less suffering.

The second agreement, “Don’t Take Anything Personally,” spoke to me. It helped me realize that the behavior of the person who caused my disappointment had nothing to do with me! People, according to Ruiz “live in their own dream, in their mind.” My friend’s reaction came from their experience and world view and was completely different world than my own.

This realization left me with a choice. I could hang on to my hurt and pain or practice forgiveness. The event was over and I couldn’t change it so why dwell on it? Forgiveness was the only logical choice.
Once I made the choice to forgive, the energy of the disappointment slowly vaporized and I saw the situation in a much different light. In hindsight, I think there was some appreciation for what I did, it just wasn’t what I wanted or expected it to be.

Given that disappointment happen to everyone, the bigger question is how can you move from disappointment toward more peace and happiness?

Here are 5 tips:

  1. Accept that disappointment happens to everyone. Recognize and allow the disappointment to be there as a teacher and know that it’s a normal part of life.
  2. Avoid wallowing. If you repeat the story over and over, it will only prolong the pain. If you need to talk about it, commit to only telling the story to one or two people. Another option is to spend 10-15 minutes writing about your feelings and then tearing up the paper and throwing it away (or burn it).
  3. Shift your self-talk. Instead of gathering more evidence about how bad your life is and how people are trying to hurt you by not giving you what you want, shift your language to something more powerful like, “Yea- I’m disappointed, but I can do something differently right now if I choose.” Catch it quickly when you hear yourself echo disempowering beliefs like, “No one understands what I need.” or “Nothing good ever happens to me.” Let these phrases be a trigger to shift to a more positive mindset.
  4. Forgive. Remember that the other person or people may be so caught in their own world that they are not aware of your disappointment.
  5. Create a plan for moving forward. Instead of making rash decisions based on your emotions, consider your role in the situation. Perhaps next time you can be more open about your needs and communicate more clearly. Are there boundaries that need to be established? Did you subconsciously set yourself up for disappointment and if so, how can you avoid doing this in the future?

By taking the time to consciously build up your resilience from life’s disappointments, you’ll navigate through the bumps with more ease and receive the lessons that help you expand.


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