How to Deal With Disappointment (part 2 of 2)

Written by on October 10, 2012 in Learning to Breathe - 3 Comments

This is the second and final part of the article published on this blog a week ago. To get the full continuity, please read part 1 of 2 before reading this entry.

Recently I faced a disappointment by a friend. Someone that I thought highly of disappointed me in not keeping to their commitments. To me, keeping to commitments is equivalent to respecting another individual. After all, if we make a plan to meet with them and to take a bit of their time, it is disrespectful and rude and just downright mean to ignore that commitment and to cancel on the time that we booked, especially if the cancellation comes last minute. As a single mom, I consider my free time to be extremely precious. It is not always that I have a free evening or a free weekend. Both are very much dependent on others, and, at times, I have to arrange the possibility with a nanny. When I do have these moments, I choose to spend them with people that I may want to get to know better or whom I want to spend time with.

I value my time highly and thereby I also value the time of others. Hence, I really try not to cancel unless there is a very good reason to do so. One such good reason may be the ill-health of myself, my kids, or someone else close to me. Cancelling because there is a better opportunity that came along is not a good reason. Cancelling because you just don’t feel like seeing the person at the moment is also definitely not a good reason. If you don’t feel like seeing them, why did you make the commitment to see them  in the first place? And if really nothing else can be done but cancelling on a person because of some unforeseen circumstance or issue, the honourable and respectful thing to do is to let them know what happened and why you are cancelling. Leaving a person with no answer and no explanation is tantamount to leaving a fish without water. It feels horrible to be the person on the receiving end and it hurts. It hurts because we don’t understand what happened and why the other person cancelled. It hurts because we’re left wondering was it something that we did or was it something about us that made the other person not want to see us anymore. It makes us question ourselves and the value of ourselves. It is a very hurtful thing to do to someone.  Not to mention, it is just simply poor manners to leave a person thus. Everyone deserves an explanation of what happened and why and many explanations might actually be valid. But without the benefit of an explanation we’re left wondering what’s wrong with us. What made this person ignore our time and disrespect us in such a way? The nice thing about apology and explanation is that it makes us feel better. It makes a disappointment that much less hurtful.

I was lucky that on that evening of disappointment I happened to be meeting a friend beforehand who was there to comfort me and make me feel better about myself when the inevitable insecurity that comes from such grave disappointment began to set in. “J, you’re amazing,” my friend said. “Don’t let anyone treating you like this make you doubt that. Some people just don’t value other people’s time as everyone should. Some people are just trapped in their own self importance and believe that their own time and being is more pressing than anyone else’s and so they disregard and disrespect the time and feelings of others. But don’t let the errors of a selfish person make you feel like less of a person yourself: you’re great and anyone that you allow to get close enough to you knows that you’re an exceptional catch and definitely one of a kind.”

It took a serious zen moment to close my eyes, take a deep breath, and meditate on this thought. It took calming work on my part to learn from this disappointment instead of letting it overtake me and make me feel worse about myself. That’s the nice thing about life: we have choices. We can choose how we deal with disappointment. We can let it run across us, flatten us, and make us feel terrible about ourselves, or we can take a deep breath and realise that maybe, in the long run, it’s not such a big deal and that maybe it just makes us more careful with whom we plan to spend our time in the future.

The person who disappointed me did so also though because I’d thought that I’d seen more in that person’s character on an earlier occasion: I’d seen a character that I liked and I wanted to get to know. I’d seen a kind, generous nature that cared about people and their feelings, an intelligent and thoughtful person that people found very likeable, and this disrespectful treatment of me went against that energy. It went against the energy of a person who is kind to others, that I believed to be a friend, and that I had expected, which is why it disappointed me perhaps more than it would have otherwise. So maybe the learning there is just not to expect too much from others. Or maybe it’s ok to expect and to see the better elements of someone’s character. Maybe it’s even ok to be disappointed sometimes and hurt. Maybe feeling that hurt is what reassures us that things and, especially, people still matter.

In truth, I don’t think that I actually misjudged the person who inadvertently disappointed me. In fact, I still think highly of that person. I think, rather, that that person misjudged me. Perhaps that person had become accustomed to getting away with a certain kind of behaviour and didn’t even consider the effects of their actions. Or perhaps that person just didn’t believe I cared enough to even warrant an explanation. In fact, an explanation did come sometime later. As it happens, it was a very valid and excellent explanation and one I wished I’d heard before. Not only did it make me feel better with myself, but it made me feel a deep compassion for this friend who was going through something very difficult. Knowing the reason for this person’s disrespectful treatment of me was what made a huge difference between how I felt about myself and also about this person.

The issue, therefore, maybe isn’t just knowing the right way to act to and treat people, but rather, caring. Most of us (though not all of course) have learned early on in our lives the correct way to behave to others; but we also suffer from the flaws of life: we become busy and tired and stuck in our heads, so we don’t always consider how others are feeling. We make mistakes and mistreat others without meaning to, simply by disregarding their feelings. I have a thing about not hurting people on purpose. I like to think of myself as a good person and I still try to subscribe to the well-known biblical rule: “Do onto others as you’d have done onto you”. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally hurt them without meaning to. And, in truth, not everyone even subscribes to this same belief system. There are so many people, after all, who still believe that they are somehow better or more important than others because of some stroke of luck that in this lifetime has made them more successful, more beautiful, more intelligent, more wealthy, or just more naturally talented. But if we consider how quickly time seems to pass, how all too soon we move from childhood to youth and from youth to adulthood and from adulthood to aging and from aging to aged, and from there, well… We may look at a lifetime as really a not too long obstacle course (if looked at over the course of centuries) set before us to test us and make us better people (if we can manage to figure it out that is). Can we really afford to be inconsiderate to others on purpose when we must do so already so often even without even meaning to?

I know that in many ways I’ve been very fortunate in my life: in ways which I all too often don’t keep in mind and forget in the complaints and grinds of the daily life, just like most others of course. But I still keep my integrity and my belief in the overall beauty of life, and my hope for better things. I try, though not always successfully of course, to treat all people equally and with kindness and respect. And when I sometimes start to doubt if there really is someone out there who is my perfect match, I think of a quote a friend once told me that he made up for himself: “No lid is perfect. Nothing is. No bucket is perfect. Nothing is. But sometimes a lid is perfect for a bucket.”

My father, once when I was sad and doubting myself, likened me to a rare pearl inside an oyster. It takes quite a lot of work to find such a pearl and one must look through quite a lot of oysters to find the one that has the pearl inside. And even once you’ve found it, it takes quite some digging to get to that magical moment of uncovering the pearl. So it’s ok. Maybe I’m not for everyone. To most, it probably seems like way too much hard work to find the oyster with the pearl inside, especially to those who shine high for the moment and who, at that moment, have all the silly glittery little fish chasing them. But someone – someone truly worthy who is searching for something special and unique – will take the effort to uncover that pearl and to claim all those riches that await without any glitter or false gold to make them seem any different than they are. And that fit – that fit will be… Well it will be amazing.



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

  1. rastreadores bbom June 27, 2013 at 2:37 PM · Reply

    it’s an awesome post. i like reading it. thanks.

  2. corburt erilio April 11, 2017 at 3:51 PM · Reply

    It’s really a cool and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cleveland May 16, 2017 at 12:20 PM · Reply

    Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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