"Hope deferred makes the heart grow weary, but a desire fulfilled is like a tree of life." (The Psalmist)
How do you deal with disappointment? Do you retreat into a place of escape and isolate? Do you lash out at what or who disappointed you? Or do you fight back and try to regain what you lost?
If you do any of those things, there is something I need to tell you: You are human.
I DIDN'T GET MY WAY:
When something or someone disappoints us, it hurts. We WANT what we WANT when we WANT it!
But it is okay to feel let down and disheartened because to deny our feelings is unhealthy, incongruous behavior.
I am in my last semester of a certificate program to become an alcohol and drug counselor. A month ago my supervisor at the facility where I was doing my internship recommended me for a counseling position there. So I applied for the job, interviewed for it, and felt like I was a "shoe in" for the position. In fact, I felt so sure about getting the job that I began making plans on how I would adjust my academic schedule to accommodate working. Swirling around in a whirlwind of excitement, I waited for the offer of employment. Only it never came. I didn't get the job.
To add insult to injury, two of my school friends had applied for the same position and were both hired. They got picked over me, the 4.0 student and rising star of the counseling program!
The worst part of the whole thing was seeing them afterwards at school and pretending like I was happy for them. Happy indeed!
ACCEPT WHAT IS, NOT WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE IT TO BE:
After we feel our pain and disappointment, what are we supposed to do? The answer is easy: Accept what IS, not what we would like it to be.
"Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes." (The "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, Page 417.)
If I want to experience inner peace and serenity, my attitude is the only card I have to play.
Shortly after the job letdown, a friend at school observed my (lousy, stinking) attitude and gave me this advice:
"Stop taking it so personally and get over yourself!" And, finally, that's what I did.
WHAT COULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
Sometimes a failure is not conditional on our performance. If that is the case, we need not engage in any soul searching. Good people experience big disappointments through no fault of their own; we live in an imperfect world.
But there are also those situations where we do affect the ultimate outcome. In those instances (and after we're done languishing in our own misery) it's a good idea to engage in a little retrospective work and see if we could have done something differently that might have given us a better outcome. Life is full of second chances, and maybe next time we will get it right.
In doing some "retro" work of my own, I realized that I had talked way too much in my interview about things I knew absolutely nothing about. (Even a fool is deemed wise until he opens his mouth!) Next time I will do better. And who knows? Maybe I wasn't the type of person they were looking for, and nothing I did could have landed me that job.
REGROUP AND WAIT:
So we've wallowed in our wretchedness, gotten over ourselves, and evaluated what would have worked better next time. Now what?
We live in the now, one day at a time. We regroup and relax in our re-gained serenity. Usually it's not imperative that we jump into something else right away. But even if it is, take a few hours or a few days or a few weeks to relax and think about other things.
Of course, we'll have to beat back the urge to jump into something quick and drastic like, say, a career change or relocating to a different continent because, as they say, nature abhors a vacuum. But, for a little while, we should do ourselves a favor and do absolutely nothing.
A NEW PLAN:
Soon, though, when we've set our feet firmly on the road to recovery, clarity will make herself known to us again. Energy will return because we are no longer contaminating our potential decisions with resentments. Now is the time to develop a new plan. Maybe we decide to try for another job or engage in a new relationship or go back to school. This is when all systems are "Go" - so go for it!
BE KINDER TO OURSELVES:
We humans are complicated creatures, and sometimes we take this aspect of ourselves for granted. We don't allow ourselves the luxury of feeling and grieving and healing after we have experienced disappointment. But we desperately need to because we don't always land on our feet with all of our faculties intact. We need to take care of ourselves and give perspective a chance to return.
The kinder we are with our unique inner selves, the more complete and happy we will be.