“He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom” ― P.G. Wodehouse
Throughout life we experience a great variety of situations. We readily remember the ones that have brought us joy, but etched, too in our minds are the ones that have led to disappointment.
During our time here we use large amounts of our energy in the pursuit of happiness however we define it. The rest of our time is often spent avoiding imagined disaster. We do this through projection of our thoughts into a fictitious negative future, aiming to put everything in place to avoid it. Unfortunately, this type of distorted thinking can have a damaging effect on our behaviour, hampering our success and manifesting the very negativity that we were trying to avoid. When this happens, we often collapse into a spiral of negative thinking, allowing the adverse situation to confirm our negative sense of self-worth.
Pursuit of happiness may be a modern concept. It may be that the advances in medicine which reduce our risk of death by disease and the existence of a democratic system where crime has a level of deterrent and consequence so our risk of death at the hands of another is also reduced – many of us need no longer be in constant fear of immediate danger. This gives some sections of modern society the luxury of examining concepts such as quality of life. For those of us lucky enough, it is no longer solely about survival. We can choose happiness! In addition, the existence of mainstream and social media shows us what is possible and gives us some templates on which to design our ideal life.
It is not possible to do this, however, without creating a vision for how we think our life ‘should’ be. This leads to the creation of expectations. When external events step in to obstruct us, we can feel deflated and disappointed.
Disappointment is an emotion that we feel when our expectations have not been met. When we are emotionally attached to the outcome of a situation, we make whether it comes to fruition or not responsible for our wellbeing. When we feel disappointed, we are labouring under the misconception that we have lost something. In fact, what we perceive that we have lost does not exist in the present moment. It is something that we hoped for and so it is something that would have existed in an ideal future. In the present moment, nothing in the future exists. The idea of the future is a product of thinking, as is what we think that we have lost. When we come into the present moment, we have not lost anything at all.
When we are disappointed, we feel it in the body. Perhaps as a sinking feeling in the stomach or a heaviness on the chest. In the following article we write about managing expectations: Managing Expectations (resilientpractice.co.uk)
In this article we suggest that one way to manage expectations is to engage in an ‘Expectations Fast.’ The exercise encourages a ‘ditching’ of all expectations resulting in a freeing up of all of the energy which would have been used in emotional attachment to the ideal situation. This is a new concept and does not lend itself to every situation
– so, what can we do to reduce the incidence and negative effects of disappointment?
As always, we advocate that you become fully conscious of what is going on for you in all situations. The next time that you feel an acute sense of disappointment
Sit with it
Where do you feel it in your body?
Take your awareness to your breathing
Allow it to slow and deepen
Allow the air to travel right down to the bottom of your lungs
So that it the inbreath pushes your belly out away from the spine
Breathe slowly and deeply like this for at least two minutes
Now examine what you perceive that you have lost
What were your expectations?
Examine your attachments to the desired outcome
Why did this feel so important to you?
Would it have validated you?
Improved your sense of self-worth?
Understand that there is value for you here
What work can be done to improve your sense of self-worth?
Are you being put on notice to learn to validate yourself?
Now bring yourself right into the present moment
Take your awareness to those things that belong to this experience
The sounds in the room
The four walls
Ceiling and roof
Know that the present moment is all that we have
And will ever have
Nothing is lost
You are here
You are alive
You have much to be grateful for
Take a moment to find balance
To release your attachment to what has gone
And to set a new intention
For right now
It all belongs to you
For a practical exercise to help to free yourself from an unpleasant past experience and many more to enhance your mental wellbeing see our book How to Rise: A Complete Resilience Manual: Amazon.co.uk: Mowbray, Chrissie, Forshaw, Dr Karen, Khan, Dr Dr Amir: 9781529370119: Books