How to Deal With Disappointment (part 1 of 2)

Written by on September 20, 2012 in Learning to Breathe - 3 Comments

This month’s blog entry was supposed to be entitled “What it Takes to Feel”, but recently something else has touched my heart that has taken precedence in my mind: disappointment. So I am instead moving the original entry to next month and using this month to deal with the issue of disappointment.

Taking the time to ponder our fate in this world, we may begin to wonder why humanity is created so terribly flawed and why it is often such a challenge for us to truly comprehend one another. Why is it that on too many occasions, it is so difficult for people to get along with, and truly comprehend, one another and why are human relations so often wrought with misunderstanding and disappointment?

When I consider myself in the face of humanity, I think of myself as truly human: in other words, highly flawed in my being. I make mistakes constantly and do and say things that I on occasion later regret things (or don’t do and say things that I later wish I had).  I suffer too much for vanity and the world of the superficial: too concerned with beauty and still running after youth when I know I should be above it and that time is meant to elude us all at some point, and it is that moving on in age and time that helps us grow. I am often impatient and at times dismissive and unkind without meaning to be or even realising that I am; and, sometimes, I am too much on my own mind when I should be caring more about the fate of the world and the suffering around me. And I’m sure if you ask my exes, particularly my ex-husband, they can find many more flaws to mention about me.

But there is something that I do have in my favour: and that is a high level of integrity and self belief and a strong sense of faith and hope. There have been times in my life – difficult, challenging times – when it is just my faith and hope that helped me go on, knowing that every period of darkness must be followed by light, that even the longest, darkest tunnels end at some point where the light and the freshness of air has always been waiting. My faith isn’t simply a faith in God. In fact, the name God is one that is so overused and misunderstood in our society these days that it makes some very spiritual people shun spirituality. Rather, I have a faith in something bigger than ourselves – whatever name one wants to put to it – some essence of benevolence around us, despite all the imperfection that exists in our world, despite the natural flaws of humanity that we are all afflicted with.

I also have a faith in the underlying goodness of this humanity. I believe that, beneath each imperfect person’s layers, there is a person there who wants to be good, caring, and compassionate to others, as well as generous and unselfish and thoughtful. Certainly, I would like to believe this of myself even when faced with days in which I act the opposite. I’ve been tested many times in this belief and I’ve, of course, had people severely disappoint this faith in the underlying goodness of humanity. But I continue to believe that people are, and can be, good and kind and compassionate to others, and that deep inside they want to be. Some might say it is naïveté that makes me believe this way, but anyone who knows me well would never accuse me of being a naive person. I do not get into deep relationships with people easily. I do not let go of, or give of my heart, or my love, freely, without thought, and certainly not to those who do not deserve it. Yet I still believe that we are all deserving, and needing, of being loved. I believe that love is a necessary medicine to our ways that are not always compatible with the being compassionate and good to others. I think of love as the way that opens us up and makes us better people. Love to humanity is like water to flowers: without it we eventually shrivel up and die. It may take some time, but with no love, the will to live slowly descends, and it is not long before either the will for death or the desire for destruction takes over. Luckily, love can come from so many sources that most of us are connected to at least a small part of it at any one point. But it is the lack of this love, which I believe creates criminality and the damage done by people on what could be a perfectly beautiful and wonderful world. I think that most of humanity’s ugliness in behaviour is caused by a lack of adequate love. Those without love act out like children in the midst of a destructive tantrum, destroying and poisoning the natural beauty and goodness around us.

Yet even with this belief in the overall necessity of love, I’m cautious of giving love too freely. I am cautious about people because people have a tendency to disappoint us. I’m cautious and I am very careful with my heart. It is my integrity and self belief that keeps me strong in an attempt to be good and honest and understanding with others. It is my belief in my own flaws that allows me to be compassionate enough to forgive the flaws of others. But it is also that which stops me, even with the belief that we all need to be loved, from loving too easily. Perhaps at times it makes me hide my heart away in an attempt to be careful. Perhaps my self-belief is too strong; perhaps I do not give enough people a chance in the fear of eventually being disappointed by them. Perhaps too it isn’t possible to have a world without disappointment and perhaps this world of disappointment is what makes us learn our lessons that much better. (And perhaps I use the word ‘perhaps’ too much).

But it is also this integrity and self-belief that makes me so strongly aware of the power of my word. “We must always keep our promises”, I teach my children” and we must make good on the commitments that we make to others”.  My grandfather was somebody whose whole life and work depended simply on the power of his word, so many years ago in a very different time, in a very different land than I live in today. But even in this day and age, even in the wide Western World that I currently inhabit, as I have learned by personal experience, even in this fast-paced, buzzy generation, the power of your word should not be disqualified as something of great value. Even now when there are so many other currencies that seem to be so much more important than the currency of your word, I keep to this, or at least I attempt to always, in my dealings with others. Perhaps in this generation of social media the importance of keeping one’s word is that much more keenly stated (and should be that much more carefully observed).  After all, if you don’t keep your promises or to the commitments you’ve made, someone may just write about it in the many, many possible places online where someone else (or many someone elses more likely) can read about it in great detail. I, personally, would rather not take that chance. Would you? Considering this, and the power of rumour that has been taken to new levels with today’s technology, shouldn’t we all be aware of the reputations we uphold?

Of course, even with this, we must allow for things that are simple misunderstandings: sometimes one person believes that you have a commitment to meet while the other person understands it completely differently. We must be compassionate of other people’s mistakes and attempt to forgive other people when slight misunderstandings arise. Because I’m so keenly aware of my own flaws, I am generally forgiving of the flaws of others. But even with misunderstandings, forgiveness can only be given to those who ask for it. If one believes they’ve made a mistake, one must ask forgiveness for that error, especially if it could have had the effect of hurting or disappointing someone.

Due to the length of this blog entry, it has been broken up into two parts. Stay tuned for the second part, to be released at the end of the month.

 

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3 Comments on "How to Deal With Disappointment (part 1 of 2)"

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