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Dealing with Disappointment

Abby Foster
| December 8, 2017

Disappointment: the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.

Boom, and there it is, “one’s hopes or expectations”- my part is identified. I cannot blame someone for disappointing me; the blame is mine for expecting too much.  Here is an area where I struggle.  Too often I am tempted to see things the way I wish they were instead of the reality of how they are.  And that has come with a painful price of feeling disappointed; hurt, sad, angry, and fearful.

When living in active addiction, I used alcohol and drugs to mask and or dull my emotions. But in recovery, my goal is to ignore my feelings no longer but learn to identify, experience, and work through them without becoming overwhelmed.

When dealing with disappointment, I often feel the need to gain a new perspective. To do this, I reach out to those who have earned my trust and are familiar with my situation. Most of the time that means calling my mentor and seek her guidance. Not only does she provide an opportunity for me to experience and process my feelings but she also offers an unbiased viewpoint. She helps me to decipher the truth and facts of the situation from my feelings. And I am often reminded of the suggestion to “keep my expectations low and my acceptance high” in the future. I’m still working on that.

My default when confronted with disappointment by someone or a situation has been to blame others. It is an old pattern, a way to continually be a victim, justify my self-righteous anger and therefore never needing to change anything within myself. To be completely honest, moving from a place of disappointment to acceptance can be hard for me. 

Sometimes I just don’t want to accept things as the way they are. But, I  remember that I am completely powerless to change some things.

The Serenity prayer reminds me, I must have the wisdom to know what I can and what I cannot change. I cannot change that a person chooses to live their life in a way that is contradictory to how I would want them to live. I cannot change the fact that someone chooses to engage in self-destructive behavior and continues to hurt those closest to them…I can choose to remember that this person is sick in the exact way that I too was once sick.  I can choose compassion over anger and pray for God to “bless them and change me”.  I can choose to set and keep healthy boundaries for myself. I don’t have to like it, but I can choose to accept that I must let go and let God.

Identifying, processing and allowing myself to sit with emotions is a work in progress. After spending so many years numbing myself I’ve had to practice experiencing emotions in a healthy way. Each time it gets a little easier. Today, I have found gratitude because it is through these tough moments that I have  been taught the meaning of living life on life’s terms.

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