You know the feeling. You had high hopes. You had made plans and had envisioned exactly how things were going to go in your mind. And then life does what it wants without checking with you. Things end up going in a completely different direction and it’s like a shot to the gut. Disappointment. Sometimes it’s a searing heat and sometimes it just sits like a rock in your stomach.
The feelings often come in waves: you get mad, then you think it will work itself out; you get sad, then you tell yourself it’s no big deal; you may cry, scream, blame, and question why this is all happening. It can cause you to completely reassess where you are going. Or you may try to deny all the feelings and act like we aren’t disappointed at all or like this total 180 degree turn had no effect on you whatsoever.
Even though it may not feel like it, you have a choice in how to react to this disappointment. Pausing and remembering that it’s important to feel all of the things is important, but then we want to keep on moving. Getting stuck and reliving the emotions over and over won’t help.
Sometimes our reactions come from a place of expecting that all is supposed to go our way. As if we had an agreement with life that it would all be cupcakes and happy dances and how dare it not going according to that plan. Alas, there was never such an agreement. This is how real life goes and it goes how it wants to go.
We often end up in a situation of making things harder on ourselves than they have to be. We keep ourselves in suffering when we refuse to accept the moment as it is. I have found in my own practice of handling stress and disappointment that when I can breathe, recognize that I am not in control, and notice what is happening without judging it as good or bad, I can find some relief from the suffering.
Author and teacher Tara Brach teaches a mindfulness technique in dealing with hard times using the acronym RAIN. I think it may be helpful here.
R- Recognize what is happening
A- Allow the experience to be as it is
I- Investigate with interest and care
N- Nurture with self-compassion
By first recognizing what is happening in the moment, we are becoming the witness to the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that we can habitually fall into without noticing what we are doing. We begin paying attention to our patterns and with that awareness, we can handle things differently. From here, allowing it to be as it is may bring up resistance or fear around feeling out of control or not knowing what to expect next. If we can pep talk ourselves, we can recognize that we are ok even if we are uncomfortable. Growth happens on that edginess of feeling uncomfortable. Next, we can start to dig in and ask ourselves questions about what exactly is coming up and how we can best care for ourselves in this difficult time. Again, we are growing our awareness so that we can notice what is helpful and what is not. And finally, we become our own friend by recognizing that it is hard and by nurturing ourselves with loving words and compassionate thoughts.
Following these steps, we can take the disappointment in stride without getting caught up in fear, anger, or denial. We can more clearly plan for what is next and begin to provide ourselves with the loving kindness that we so often afford only to others.
Give it a try. Hit me up and share your experience or ask for support if you need it. You know I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon,
Check out this blog from Tara Brach for more on her RAIN method: https://www.tarabrach.com/selfcompassion1/