Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Another Look At Disappointments


How can I  minimize my disappointments ?

Last year when I took a coaching course aimed at working with people with ADHD I heard  Richard Lavoie (in the video When the Chips are Down) say that the worst thing you could tell a child is that he/she has disappointed you. I have thought about this idea for a long time and reached a conclusion that Lavoie was wrong, there are far worse things.

A disappointment for me is that gap between what I want and what I get; more than that, it is a condition of unmet expectations, broken promises and unfulfilled wishes. Yet, this state is actually a state of mind, an attitude, and therefore it is subjective. Since life is unpredictable, there are often unwelcome surprises,  and disappointments could be inevitable.

 A woman once  told me that she never got exactly what she wanted from the people she loved. This is a description of a permanent state of disappointment; holding this attitude seems unbearable. Yet I believe that her condition is the result of a too narrow definition of what she wants. Her specific view of her wishes is  puerile --"if I don’t get exactly what I want it doesn’t mean a thing". This attitude focuses on on that gap which I mentioned earlier.

 In order to move away from feeling disappointed I need to broaden my definition of a fulfilled wish.  I should open up my, sometime locked,  imagination to include less specific prenotions of what exactly it is that will make me happy.

Yet I  (perhaps I am not the only one) am not always  ready to give up on the state of being disappointed: it feels justified, and it is often a safe hiding place from life’s next blow.

Disappointments come in all shapes, sizes and colors; some are long term and other are topical,  and of course there is the big one of being disappointed in love which I would not discuss here.

This morning as I was sitting among boxes in a packed apartment waiting for the movers to come and move my daughter to a different city, I  got a text from the mover who announced simply that he was sorry, he didn’t feel well. How do I deal with such a disappointment?

 Here a scale in which we can measure the merit of the different parameters of a specific disappointment may prove helpful. In the case of the move I can conclude that although large in size, the disappointment  is short term in value-- it is not going to affect my wellbeing in the future.  Yet I can’t deny that the delay was  highly inconvenient and annoying.  So based on this quick calculation of value and size I restore  my grown-up sense of proportion and just make alternative plans.

In just one day we all encounter numerous occasions in which we do not get what we were hoping for: it means being alive. But using the proposed disappointments' scale could help minimize their effect and regulate the emotions.

Still there is no need to exaggerate in the damage caused by telling  a child, or an adult for that matter, that he/she has disappointed you or that you are disappointed, sometimes you have a good reason to be. The rest of the time, as disappointed  people are not fun to be around, I keep reminding  myself “stiff upper lip”.

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