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Disappointment is not an outcome but a process

Ever been disappointed? We all are sooner or later and some of us more often than others and more often than necessary. What exactly is disappointment and what are its primary contributors?  But also, why do we set ourselves up for it?

Disappointment – the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.  Get it – the single biggest cause of disappointment are the expectations we want or need to happen or feelings we have when we have been let down by others or circumstances.

Let me briefly explain the title as I believe that expectations and their outcomes are more of a process than an outcome.

We want something to happen – a returned phone call, email or text response, someone to show up on time for lunch – whatever – and we believe/feel that it should happen due to our own needs, desires or situations and then – BAM – nothing.  So, we get upset, angry, hurt or yes – disappointed.  I call it the “disappointment – setup”.  Can it be avoided? Yes, but there are a few conditions that must be present.

First we have to grasp the simple concept that we are not in control of others or their actions, responses, timing or agendas.

Second we must accept that the world doesn’t revolve around us.

And third we must nurture patience – not an easy task for control freaks.

When I say that disappointment is a process  – it starts with us and how we turn over control of our feelings, behavior, decisions or actions to others or circumstances.  It doesn’t just happen – it builds slowly as time passes and you wait for responses, actions, decisions or outcomes you want from others or life in general.

I don’t care if it’s an airline flight that is late or cancelled, the weather that messes with your weekend plans or simply routine traffic while on the way to an important meeting – it’s all the same – stuff happens and if this concept is not ingrained in your consciousness I will guarantee you spend a great deal of time in a mindset of disappointment.

The other factor is the stress that is caused by these situations and if you are not aware of the negative impact of this let me tell you that everything in life is a stressor – a wedding or a divorce, winning the lotto or filing bankruptcy, getting fired or starting a new position – everything in life is a stressor but the body doesn’t separate negative from positive stressors – they are all the same.  Stress isn’t what is happening but how you choose to respond internally to what is happening. Notice I said “you choose”.

Yes, disappointment is a major contributor to stress and again its primary causes are the expectations you bring to any and every situation or person.

What can you do to eliminate or reduce your disappointments?  Simple folks – let go emotionally of the things you can’t control.  Accept that life happens and not always according to your agendas, schedule or needs.

I’ll share one of my life mantras with you – “I will be excited if it happens but I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t.”

By- Tim Connor

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