There is no two ways about it; we have all experienced what it feels like to be disappointed. We have been disappointed in ourselves, others, outcomes, the weather, our job, and just about anything else we can think of.
In reality, feeling disappointed has nothing to do with other people, places or circumstances. The fact is that being disappointed doesn’t actually originate with external sources, even though it might feel like it.
If the weather turns bad while I’m on vacation, what does that have to do with me? And if the new car I just bought is terrible, how is that from an internal source? I don’t control the weather, and I didn’t build the car, so how can I be responsible for the disappointment involved?
Disappointments are an emotional response that we create. Feeling disappointed is our emotional response to some expectation. That’s right; expectation is the reason we feel disappointed.
We get disappointed when things fail to live up to our expectations. We tend to attach expectation to almost everything in life and this means there is a distinct possibility that we could end up being disappointed.
The role of expectation
Much of our excitement and enthusiasm in life comes from eager expectation. We look forward to things when we anticipate a desirable outcome. In fact, often times that excitement makes up a large percentage of the joy we experience.
Expectation can also work the other way. If we are anticipating a painful outcome, we don’t call it excitement, do we? No, we call it anxiety. In the case of a negative expectation (anxiety), we are glad when things don’t turn out the way we expected. We feel relieved instead of disappointed.
How do we avoid feeling disappointed?
• Accept wider parameters
When our expectations fall within parameters that are too narrow, then there is a higher likelihood that we will end up disappointed.
For example, if you go to Hawaii during the winter, accept the fact that you will probably have some rainy days. Plan some non-beach activities around those days and you will be covered. Having a Plan B or other options can reduce the pain you go through if Plan A fails.
• Live in the moment
Viewing your life as an adventure allows you to enjoy the greatest variety of experiences. You still have the expectation of adventure, but you haven’t hemmed it into a preconceived package. Instead, you have left yourself open to just about anything that comes along and your enthusiasm remains high. Life is always an experience; cherish that and you will enjoy the ride.
• Value learning
There are valuable lessons in every experience we have. How do you feel about these life lessons? Truth be told, some of our most profound learning comes from situations that didn’t turn out the way we thought they would. Much of the time we get what we need rather than what we want. If learning and growing is a top priority for us, we will find reasons to appreciate a wide range outcomes and experiences.
• It’s all about attitude
In the long run, it is mostly up to us to decide what value we place on any experience. If we are looking for reasons to feel disappointed, that’s what we are going to find.
Things don’t always turn out the way we might like, that’s a fact we all live with. Being enthusiastic and full of eager anticipation makes life fun and exciting. Learning to love the journey is the best defence against the dark cloud of disappointment.