Dealing with Disappointment

July 14, 2021 • Insights on Life

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To expect to go through life without disappointment is delusionary. Disappointment is a part of life. It is a part of life until we start to shift our perspective on disappointment. Disappointment comes when our expectations are not met. When we have invested so much in something or someone and it does not work out. When something we love does not go the way we hoped it would go. When we encounter failure. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this. I’m sure you, like me, can make a long list of disappointments you’ve had in life. 

Over the years I’ve worked to adjust my relationship with disappointment. And I’m still working on it. A simplified way is to view the process in two steps. Effort or action and outcome. 

We can control the action. That we can do. The effort we put into something or into someone can be completely controlled by us. 

The outcome is not always, if ever, controllable. You can have the ultimate game plan but something could go wrong or change and this can affect the outcome you had hoped for. 

Keeping both of these in mind (action and outcome), what I continue to work on is to focus on the action and be affectionately detached from the outcome. I do my best to define my outcomes clearly. Then I focus completely on the action knowing that my actions will lead to the outcome I’ve planned for. Now, I think that my actions will lead to the outcome I’ve planned for but unless I’ve done it before it may not be the case. 

If my outcome is different than what I had expected then it is an opportunity for me to really reflect on my actions and see if they were the right actions. It is also a great learning opportunity and I can ask myself questions such as “What can I learn from this?”, “What do I need to do differently?”

Now to be affectionately detached from the outcome is a practice not for everyone. 

To be attached is to feel the pain of detachment.

And when we are attached, the pain of detachment is unavoidable. 

To be “affectionately detached” is a phrase my guru coined. To be affectionately detached is monastic and best practiced by those who have chosen a more extreme path – extreme relative to the average person.

But that said, we can all work on incorporating various levels of “affectionate detachment” in our lives.

So work to shift your perspective on disappointment and you will be able to better manage how much of it you experience in life.

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