Recently I have looked closely into the eyes of disappointment. They were wounded, angry and sorry, pitying and rationalizing, wondering, not knowing answers and giving answers at the very same time. Resisting and trying to find the way to accept. Willing to change everything and then finding excuses why not to change at all. Struggling and looking for hope. Abandoning and keeping on going. Feeling extremely week and still finding the resources to continue.
Disappointment would not occur if there was not for hope. Or high hopes. Imagining and wishing that something particular happens. Promotion, marriage, engagement, moving together, loosing weight, earning more money, raising successful children, buying a house etc. Dreaming of better future, in fact. Seeing us being better off, free, showing off a bit, having more space, looking better, not being alone or vice versa. Awaiting change, luck, chance…And then our scenario crashes somewhere at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. We face the bitter truth – nothing of what we have hoped for is going to happen. If we look at it as a fact it is indeed sad but certainly not a catastrophe. We simply will not get the promotion (which probably means only that we will not go on expensive holiday or will not buy that big and beautiful house). We simply will not get married (probably because we were dating the “wrong” person.) We will not lose weight which simply means we did not try that much and we will not fit into those trousers we bought to motivate ourselves. We will stay alone which does not mean alone forever etc…
What goes really on once our hopes are not met with success is rather different. We think we were not promoted because we did not deserve to be promoted. We will not get married because we are not good enough to form a couple. We are not losing weight because we have always been fat and thus not attractive. Our children are not successful for the moment which means they will never manage in life etc. What we do is a constant devaluing, doubting and undermining ourselves.
How can we step out of this vicious circle? First of all – by stopping to generalize one failure for the total failure in all areas of our life. Secondly – not to have high hopes. I do not say no hopes at all but leaving the door open for not getting all we want. Thirdly – my favourite from 4 Agreements by Miguel Ruiz – not taking anything personally. The most likely scenario in life is the following: we were not promoted not because we are not good, but because either the system did not allow it, or some asshole got the promotion instead. Yes, there are assholes who do not work as hard as us but they simply have their own means how to get there. Our sweetheart did not propose? Not because we are not intelligent, we are bad in bed, not beautiful – but because they got cold feet, found somebody else or are just assholes. Our children are messing up – not because we are the ones who have stupid children but because we are going through a period when they want to ACT stupid – either because they do not care or they want to test us or because WE are behaving like assholes towards them.
What we feel and how we feel about our “failures” is only our responsibility. How we express it and what we do about it is also entirely our responsibility. To change our attitudes, actions, behaviour will never be easy. As Kodaline sings in their song that is about love but applies to everything:
“But I’ve only got myself to blame for it, and I accept it now
It’s time to let it go, go out and start again
But it’s not that easy.
High hopes, when you let it go, go out and start again….now the world keeps spinning around”.
The world keeps spinning around as if nothing happened. Acknowledging the fact that it is not all about us and our single fall down gives us freedom to talk our sad experience over with somebody we trust. It helps us to gain courage to start again and making things work out better. Next time.