Finding the delicate balance of dealing with disappointment and moving forward.
The end of the year always brings me to a place of introspection. It’s a natural moment for us to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. I’ll admit it has been a battle for me to focus on the positive aspects of my life during this time. I can easily get focused on the things that haven’t gone as I had hoped. It takes me a lot of effort, in these end of year moments of introspection, to see the positive. Thankfully, I eventually find myself there, but not without some effort.
On Christmas Day, I sat down to do some journaling about my year and was utterly blocked. Despite having a relatively positive day with my mother, we were alone this year and I was sad about it. Honestly, the last few holiday seasons have been hard. Life’s timing with certain significant life transitions (i.e. death, relationship endings, family moving far apart, etc.) seemed to be changing the holiday season significantly. I was allowing the compound nature of life’s events to shed a certain light on the day. Plus, I was feeling disappointed about how things had turned out this year. I mean yah, all the unknowns caused by the global pandemic alongside some other relationship disappointments laid heavy on my heart. I couldn’t see the positive. Eventually after sitting there for a few hours attempting to write without success and not wanting to emerge from the room to shed a negative light on an already difficult day for my mother, I decided to change directions. A good decision for me at that particular moment. I have learned over the years how to lift myself out of the darkness while giving it the respect it deserves.
So why do we get disappointed? It’s simple. We create expectations for the future, which is a place where we can’t possibly know anything for certain. Disappointment happens somewhere in between hopes and realities. Depending on the person and just how much of a dreamer that person is, we can create some seriously unrealistic expectations. This is more based on what we want rather than on what actually is, so when we get to the place we have been dreaming about it is rarely what we thought it would be. Trust me I speak as an experienced dreamer.
It’s fairly natural for us to dream about the future. In fact it is necessary to have dreams otherwise we wouldn’t go anywhere in life other than the place we are right at that moment. Yet, if we get too focused on future expectations we can become distant from the present moment and lose balance. Again with the balance, I know, I know. It’s true though, it’s so essential here.
So what to do about all of this—
When I am in a negative space and struggling with disappointment I first give myself a moment with the sadness, the negativity, and the disappointment. Many would say get out of that place ASAP and for some that might work but what I have found is if we try to rush the process too much we can emerge from the disappointment without reverence. Think about it, those were beautiful dreams you had that didn’t come true. Those where things that you set in place to manifest that never did. They deserve some time. They deserve some damn respect. You had your heart set on those things, you fostered them and attempted to grow them and they didn’t come to fruition. It’s sad and you are allowed to grieve the lose of them—to take the time to feel as you feel about them before you just move on.
What then, I recommend engaging in simple tasks in the moment. Things you can do to feel some success and things that will make you feel “okay” again. Something that will ground you in reality. Once you have allowed yourself to feel, what may be some pretty intense feelings, you have to be careful to monitor things closely and not go too deep without a proper life saving device. You don’t throw yourself in the deep end of a swimming pool when you don’t know how to swim. So, what might those simple tasks be? For me, I wrote a few emails, signed up for a membership program, and prepped for cooking. I grounded myself in reality and did some easy tasks that I knew would help me feel like I had accomplished something during that time even if it wasn’t the initial goal I set out to do.
After that, when we ground ourselves in reality, we can make a more natural shift that will help us change our perception of the situation. It isn’t easy to go from the world of lost dreams to the world of reality but it is possible. Grounding yourself with small manageable tasks will help you to change your perception of the situations that were disappointing. After all it really is all in how we perceive things—once I grounded myself the fog started to lift and my visibility of the many blessings of this year came into view. Finding yourself in the moment gives you much needed clarity.
Lastly, let me admit there were moments in the past where I would entertain the sadness—yah, I’d dive in it really deep and allow my emotions to completely take over. The disappoint might have overtaken me at that time. I will be the first one to admit that it isn’t always easy to see your way out of the darkness. And in these times I have been blessed enough to have the right people in my life friends, mentors, or therapists to guide me and teach me. Of course, I hope this blog post will give some helpful guidance in navigating disappointments in life and regaining balance but when it isn’t possible alone, it is possible together.
Connect with Sarah for more guidance through life’s disappointments and difficult transitions.