Recently, while having a conversation with a friend who is currently going through the PTSD of a divorce, one of the things that they kept saying over and over is, "I'm just so disappointed in myself." If you've read my content, even a little bit, then you know that I am pretty word-specific and so I gave that statement — one that is pretty common when you really stop to think about it — quite a bit of thought. Although I think a lot of people feel that being disappointed in themselves (or someone else) means that they feel bad about something that they said or done, the word actually means "to fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of" and "to defeat the fulfillment of (hopes, plans, etc.); thwart; frustrate."
And while, on the surface, that might seem like I'm splitting hairs, when you factor in the lead quote, I'm actually…not. Sometimes, no matter how much you tried to make something work, it doesn't and that shouldn't result in you beating up yourself; it simply means you should learn how to manage your expectations better. For instance, when it comes to a relationship that's gone sour, if you really did give your all (be honest with yourself on that, by the way) and you expected things to last long-term, you've still got to factor in things like another person's free will, changes of circumstance and you possibly not being on the same page as your partner was/is.
See what I mean? While I'm not the person who lives by the motto "expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed" (because it sounds like a jaded or bitter person made that up), I am someone who thinks that we should not get so frustrated with ourselves — again, especially to the point that we beat ourselves up — when what we hoped for didn't exactly pan out. Instead, I think there are other far more productive and beneficial ways to utilize that energy. Here are seven of them.
1. Do Some Journaling
As a writer, I'm sure it's no shock to you that I'm a pretty big fan of journaling. Aside from the fact that it's a great way to plan out goals and improve your writing skills, journaling is proven to also help you to de-stress, get your thoughts together and track your progress. That said, sometimes, when we're disappointed about something and all we do is keep going over it again and again in our minds, it can be hard to make sense of the internal chaos — it can be challenging to separate feelings from facts and what you should "own" and what you shouldn't. That's why I definitely recommend that you do some journaling when you're in this kind of headspace because it can help you to vent and then see things from a much clearer perspective after you do.
Chile, there have been many things that I've been disappointed about yet because I put the date (and even the time) on my entries, it has been freeing like a mug to look back every few months to see how all things indeed worked together for the good. So yeah, journal about what has truly disappointed you before the year concludes. It's never (ever) for naught.
2. Have the “Hard” Conversations
Anyone who knows me (and only I would know that; check out "5 Signs You Really Know A Person") knows that ghosting is totally not my style. If anything, I'm someone who is going to communicate ad nauseam, just to make sure that folks are crystal clear about where I am coming from. For me, that means that whether we decide to work things out — personally or professionally — or we choose to part ways, you know exactly where I'm coming from and how I feel about the ultimate decision that has been made. This resolves confusion and where the confusion is lacking, peace can dwell.
Whether it's from counseling, observation, or personal experience, I honestly think that 8 times outta 10, ghosting either comes out of fear or cowardice. Because it's literally running from a situation and not dealing with it. To me, having the hard conversations is actually what makes it easier to feel like something is worth fighting for or that it's worth releasing because all of the feelings, on both sides, are out on the table.
For instance, I know someone who has a pretty dysfunctional relationship with her mother. Yet she vents to everyone and their grandma but her mom. As a direct result, over the years, nothing has really changed. She keeps telling me how disappointed she is yet she's in her 30s at this point and so I'm like, "You claim your mom is not meeting your expectations while assuming she should know what they are. That's your bad." Holding someone captive because of what you trumped up in your mind without giving them a heads up is no one's fault but your own. If you're that shook up — don't run. Deal. Ghosting doesn't accomplish that. Discussing does.
3. Forgive Yourself
I don't know what it is about this year, in particular, that caused so many people to either tweet or state that a definition of self-care is to forgive someone and never speak to them again. Every time that statement crosses my path, all I think is, "Gee, I hope folks can handle being forgiven in the way that they choose to forgive others." Because, if you've got even an ounce of humility in you, you know that the time is going to come, sooner than later, when you're going to need someone to forgive you — and the way you forgive has an uncanny way of boomeranging.
Besides, the more you learn about the purpose and benefits of forgiving other people (check out "Are You A 'Bad Forgiver'? Read This And See."), the more you want to do it. Trust me. You know, folks who claim that they don't believe in forgiving other people? Oftentimes, whether they realize it or not, they are putting out on front street, just how bad they are at extended mercy and grace — not to others but to themselves. And when you're so hard on you that you can't pardon yourself for when you did what humans do — mess up — that's a pretty miserable way to live; not just when it comes to you dealing with yourself but the people who try and walk out life with you as well. Self-forgiveness is necessary for this life. Be intentional as possible about doing it.
4. Come Up with a Personal Expectations-Related Mission Statement
Honey, I'm all about creating a mission statement. Again, because I'm a writer, I'm pretty sure that some of the reason is a little bit of an occupational hazard. At the same time, though, I like them because they remind me to be concise when it comes to figuring out an overall mission that I want to accomplish. And so, if you're someone who is either trying to shake a particular disappointment or protect yourself from becoming more disappointed in the future, it can never hurt to jot down a paragraph or two about what you will commit to, moving forward, when it comes to effectively managing your expectations — what you will do to make sure that they are realistic, how much you will invest into trying to manifest them and how you will evoke self-care if things don't go as planned.
Because here's the thing — while there are many factors that play a direct role in how expectations, wishes, and hopes come to be, when they don't go as you wish, with a mission statement in tow, you actually have more control over your disappointment than you might actually think. Because the more realistic you are, the more you're aware that you become of the fact that you can only control what you can control, and the more you're willing to love on yourself when you did your best and things went another way, the easier it will be to move on from said disappointment…so that you can thrive in another direction.
5. Don’t Wait until 1/1. (That’s a Joke.)
You wanna know an underrated sign of being a procrastinator? It's when you tell yourself that next year is when you'll make some real changes in your life? Lawd, let's all release the shackles of honestly thinking that something special happens between 12/31 and 1/1 because, really, when it's all said and done, it's just another day. And since you still have a few weeks before the New Year even starts, there's no time like the present to get a leg up on doing some things that will totally change the narrative, come this time next year.
It's actually with this point in mind that I penned, "Why Fall Is The Perfect Time To Prep For The New Year" for the site last year. Oh, and while you're at it, check out "12 Monthly Self-Love Themes That Will Make This Your Best Year Yet." Devoting the rest of this year to reflecting on all of the wishes unfulfilled that you had really doesn't make a lot of sense. However, shifting that time, effort, and energy into putting some short- and long-term goals together and then working on them, right here and right now? That is the kind of mentality that will put disappointment right in its place — far, far away from you.
6. Remember That You’ve Still Got Time
As a doula, it's not uncommon for a woman in her early 30s to talk to me about her ticking clock (check out "Tick Tock: How To Get Over The Fear Of Your Biological Clock"). Whenever that happens, something that I say, pretty much every time, is I've had several clients, well into their late 40s, who've had healthy and happy babies. My point? Disappointment will have you so distraught that you'll think that there is nothing past the moment that you're in when that couldn't be further from the truth.
So long as you've got breath in your body, you've got time. Time to start that business. Time to get into your dream relationship or job. Time to make that house or car purchase. Time to be a better friend to the current or even the next people who come into your life. Time to get into shape. Time to conceive a child. Time to love yourself more and better. A great remedy for disappointment is honoring your time by not wallowing in it. This is something else that I can personally attest to.
7. Focus on the Good
Author Mike Hawkins once said, "You don't get results by focusing on results. You get results by focusing on the actions that produce results." Author Napoleon Hill once said, "Focus on the possibilities for success, not the potential for failure." Another wise person once said, "When you're focused on the good, the good gets better." Focus on your actions. Focus on your possibilities. Focus on the good. Disappointment doesn't want you to do any of this yet when you push through its barriers and choose to do these things instead, you'll be absolutely amazed by how bigger your world is than your disappointment, how much you've got to be thankful for beyond your disappointment and how much you can still accomplish outside of your disappointment.
Disappointments? They come and go to us all. Yet the more intentional you are about giving it less time and energy (than usual), the easier it will be to get through and past them. You and your time are so precious so, sis, please make sure that you do.
Featured image by Getty Images