We sneak our way around life and work trying to avoid disappointing others to such an extent that it can leave us haunted from the stress, worry and fear of protecting ourselves.
When we are the one responsible behind disappointment, we find ourselves poked by both ends of a double-edged sword – on the one side wounded by disappointment in ourselves, and the other traumatized with guilt towards the party affected.
But like toothaches and awkward puberty, we have to accept the fact that we are all bound to the possibility of disappointment, be it by ourselves, family, friends or co-workers; or by circumstances beyond our control, such as bad timing or a chain of events that eventually domino-crumble down our path.
Disappointment is an essential part of our growth and self-discovery, and despite being uncomfortable and hurtful, teaches us to trust ourselves, recognize our strengths and weaknesses, and let go of our hold on perfection.
By actively avoiding disappointment onto others, sometimes we set ourselves up for more failure and pain instead of less, or none at all.
We understand that like people, disappointment comes in many different shapes and sizes. While we don’t reproach the remorse that comes with our wrongdoing (hey, that’s a sign of empathy, right?), we’re definitely not down with the idea of indulging in continuous self-pity over a missed deadline or a forgotten detail.
So here are some tips you can apply in your personal or work life on how to overcome the emotional self-flagellation that comes with having disappointed someone.
1. Own Up
The first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem. ‘Admit’ is the keyword here. Perhaps the expectations set on you was too high, or perhaps you were also juggling several other things at once, but be open to realizing that perhaps you could have done better. Take some time to study your actions, and if you realize that the fault or mistake was indeed yours – apologize. Not just to save your relationship with the disappointed person, but also because it’s due.
2. Learn & Move On From It
Mistakes happen so you can learn from them and know what not to do when the same situation approaches you in the future. But sometimes, we aren’t quick students of our own class, so if you can’t seem to recognize where you went wrong, talk to the person you disappointed to better understand the situation, the person and yourself. He or she may not forgive you immediately, but that is a response you can’t control. Your response, however, is something you can.
3. Learn To Say NO
Often, disappointments come from promises unfulfilled, so perhaps we need to start weighing the amount of tasks we agree to out of pressure, out niceness or even out of trying to prove ourselves. Yes, it’s great to set a benchmark for yourself and it’s noble to try and be there for everything. But if this means putting too much at risk (i.e. the expense of other people), then perhaps you should practice saying NO to some of these requests. Be honest about your capabilities and the load on your plate.
4. Express Yourself
In court, just because the judge rules the criminal out as guilty, the trials may have not exactly painted a black and white picture. Our point is, even if the mistake is technically yours, perhaps you were dealing with a difficult situation which didn’t make things easier for you or helped contribute to the mistake. Be the bigger person and own up, but don’t leave court without voicing your concerns. Maybe in this case, the disappointed party is the one who’s blind to their weaknesses. Even if they refuse to listen to you, you would still feel justified knowing you tried to rectify the situation – but a word of advice, state your piece and leave the conversation peacefully.
5. Make A Decision
If you constantly fall back into this situation despite having tried everything you could to improve things, then perhaps you should ask yourself: Are you happy where you are, or should you be somewhere else or with someone else? If you find that you still struggle to avoid disappointment and that your actions are constantly judged negatively, maybe the decision to consider is one to stay, or to go. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that something or someone isn’t meant for you.
When we learn to accept, embrace and grow from disappointment, we learn to not take ourselves so seriously, and we also learn to be free. Free to be ourselves, free to recognize who and what matters most, and free to forgive – after all a Key to Peace is Forgiveness.
How do you deal with yourself when you’ve disappointed someone? Also, when you have been disappointed how do you interact with the other party to clear the air?