How To Accept Disappointment

"The hardest thing in life is letting go of what you thought was real.”

Have you ever had something happen that you were very excited about; a new relationship, a child, a dream house, etc. and then it gets taken away for some reason? I don`t know about you, but the disappointment seems to linger for awhile. We could just move on….but how do we do that?

That is the question; how do we move on? It is easy to say, let`s just move forward. Does that work without all the work involved to really move forward? I don`t think so. So what do we do? Recently my husband and I found a house that we really wanted. It was in the location we had been eyeing for years, it had a lake view, it was centrally located, it had all the features we were looking for, and we fell in love with it. We quickly put together an offer, got pre-qualified for a loan and sent it in digitally. We did all we were supposed to do. We got excited and started dreaming. We were thinking about where we would put our furniture, how we would fix up the basement, organizing our house to put it on the market, and so on. We were there in our minds and in our hearts. We had one day to wait and find out whether or not they accepted our offer.

At the appointed time we heard that another couple put in an offer and they needed one more hour. We then found out they went with the other offer. At first, I was a bit relieved. That would have been a lot of work and very quickly. Then I began to miss it and think about it, almost obsessively. I knew it wasn`t helpful and I couldn`t seem to help it. My mind would say to me that everything is okay and we will find another house, and it is only a house. But of course, it is not only a house inside of me. It had another meaning if only I could figure out what it was. A house represents us. I had been looking for a house to represent me for many years of my life. I never felt I had the right to be me when I was growing up. I had to agree with my father or be like my father to be seen. I was never truly accepted by my siblings, in fact, I was seen as someone who was volatile and who was difficult when I was speaking up for myself. Somewhere along the line, I gave up a part of myself to get along and to belong. 

That instinct to belong is very strong inside of us because when we are little we need to belong to others in order to survive. It is about survival. As we get older you would think we would be able to let go what no longer serves us, but our brains and even our minds sometimes remember that it needs to survive. It becomes very difficult to let go of the old way of thinking and feeling unless and until with our new knowledge and understanding of ourselves, we can talk us through the situations that are bringing up our old ways of belonging. 

So I began to talk to myself in this new way, with this new understanding. I wanted a house that fit me and who I am now, in the present. I realized that the urgency I felt in finding a house was an inner urgency and a message to myself to listen to me and to see me and to allow myself to let the parts I had let go of when I was little have their voice and to let myself sing and dance and be me. The house will come. I need to listen to my inner urgency to allow my voice and who I am to blossom.

So how do we accept disappointment? We look for what it is that is underneath the disappointment that speaks to our needs. When we find what we are needing, we can feel our sense of disappointment, and that is all it is. It becomes easier to move forward and through the feeling.

Shift your Story Shift your Life:

Let`s start with an exercise and make this story personal for you. Take out a piece of paper and pencil or pen. Take a minute and think through a situation in which you were disappointed and had a difficult time moving through your feelings. Write out what the situation was and your feelings involved. Now take a moment and think about what is underneath your disappointment. Is it guilt over something, an older loss, a need that you haven’t been able to provide for yourself, etc.? Write yourself through this. In other words, even if you don`t know at first what is making it hard to move through the disappointment, just begin to write and see what comes out. Whatever comes up for you is what needs to be seen. Write about what this particular situation reminds you of….in the past. Not to stay stuck there but to understand that you might be unconsciously bringing your past forward into the present. When you have an idea of what it reminds you of, write about what you can now do differently in response to this situation.

If you get stuck in any part of this exercise, no worries. Just see what comes up and come back to this another day.

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