What is Disappointment?
Let’s begin by looking at what disappointment is. When I say, “I feel disappointed” I often had hoped for something to happen and it didn’t. I might also feel disappointed when someone promises something but they’re not able to hold their promise.
To me, disappointment feels like a loss of heart, as if suddenly I’m not so sure if I can trust so easily again. There is often a lot in our feelings of disappointment that doesn’t meet the eye.
Picking Apart Disappointment
Next time you feel disappointed, take a moment to bring your attention to your body. Notice how you’re feeling. Gently explore all of the emotions that may be present. It is common to feel angry, sad, hurt, or even ashamed while we are feeling disappointed.
You might suddenly think:
- “I will never ask them for anything anymore!” (anger)
- “I really didn’t think they would do this to me.” (sadness and hurt)
- “I feel so stupid for trusting them.” (shame)
How to Move Forward
In a constructive way and in the spirit of honesty and transparency, share how you’re feeling with your friend/spouse/family member. Let them know you had an expectation and you feel angry/sad/hurt that they didn’t follow up on their promise/plans made/agreements, etc.
If trust is now broken, work to repair trust going forward. If a promise was not delivered, if your friend betrayed an agreement the two of you had, speak openly and honestly to them about it. Do this with kindness, staying curious about their reasons and conscious of your level of expectations.
To be human is to have expectations. Make sure your expectations are well-grounded in reality. Ask good, direct questions to clarify expectations with others. Make sure you are both on the same page before you let yourself fully trust someone.
While expectations can ease our anxiety and worry, they can also set us up for disappointment.
Trust and Safety
The topic of disappointment is actually the topic of safety and trust.
As we learn to build trust with someone, as we learn to feel safe around them, we might feel disappointed at least a few times in the beginning stages of getting to know them.
A lot of this process is very common and normal and to be expected. Each person comes into a relationship with their own set of unconscious beliefs and assumptions (and expectations!). To clarify these, to become more aware of these and to communicate what we’re looking for clearly and directly takes time and some effort.
Continue to Explore Your Feelings
It is so worth the effort to work through our own feelings of disappointment and to communicate our needs and desires with others.
When both people in a relationship (whether friends, family members, or romantic partners) are open to listening and understanding each other, we can have truly amazing connections where feelings of disappointment cannot create unnecessary distance between us for too long.
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