Disappointment can kill a dream. When we don’t get what we want when we think we should have it, then we’ll become angry and disappointed or depressed and disappointed. Either way, disappointment is a part of the mix. Over the past few months, ever since I left my job at the library, I’ve been slowly learning how to deal with it.
Put Disappointment into Perspective
Whenever I drag myself into my therapist’s office under the weight of shattered hopes, the first thing he does is try to put things into perspective.
Sometimes, it’s asking the obvious question, “Doesn’t this sort of thing (e.g., gaining more book sales) take time? Don’t other writers share this same struggle?” When I realize that this is simply a part of the path I’ve set myself on, disappointment becomes easier to bear. It’s like being able to handle the heat of the sun when you know it naturally accompanies playing a favorite sport. By seeing disappointment in the context of your surroundings, then it makes it easier to bear.
I have this really terrible habit of being hard on myself. If I don’t figure something out right away, or succeed (at warp speed), then disappointment sets in. Either there’s something wrong with me or wrong with the world around me. At the height (or depth) of my depression, I blamed everyone. Everyone was against me. Even my own husband seemed against me at times. And if I tried to talk myself out of it, the nasty voice in the back of my mind would gain volume until it shouted, “You’re the problem!”
And then the cycle started over, with me dwelling overlong in the “you’re the problem” stage. However, if I tried to readjust my perspective, to see things in context, then I realized that maybe I needed to re-size my expectations. Maybe I needed to be more patient or realized I’m asking for too much, too soon. Maybe I simply needed to accept that I failed but I should try again anyway. By re-calibrating my expectations, I survived (and continue to survive) disappointment.
When I was a kid, I rode my bike a lot. We lived in the country, so if I couldn’t get a ride to a friend’s or wherever, it was either stay home, walk, or bike.
One day, I took a bad spill after popping my first (and only) wheelie. I fell in the gravel of our driveway and the rocks tore gashes into my knees. The last thing I wanted to do was to get up. I knew the moment my knees moved, they would feel every inch of pain. But, I grit my teeth and made myself get up.
Sometimes, in the face of disappointment, the only thing you can do is get up. That day, after forcing myself to get up, I mounted my bike and carried on to my friend’s house. Sometimes, when things go sideways, that’s the only thing left to do. Sometimes, all the pep talks and putting-things-into-perspective in the world won’t take away from the pain of failing or seeming to fail. The only thing to do is to get up and carry on.
Dear readers, how do you handle disappointment? Feel free to comment below and please don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for exclusive sneak peeks into my upcoming work.