“Man has falsely identified himself with the pseudo-soul or ego. When he transfers his sense of identity to his true being, the immortal Soul, he discovers that all pain is unreal” [Yogananda].
I always cringe when I hear the phrase “I was disappointed.” In my opinion disappointment is as useless as expressing pity, in that this sentiment does little to help the other person or to alleviate the problem. Although the conveyor of disappointment most likely thinks that his/her judgment is discernment in disguise, the phrase “I’m disappointed” imparts a condescension of sorts that puts the receiver in a one down position. The deflated purveyor of dreams dashed probably has not however contemplated his or her role in the creation of this gloomy state of affairs. Before letting someone else know that he/she “disappointed you,” think about what you could have done differently to avert the situation.
- Did you communicate misgivings/suggestions for improvement before the situation reached a crisis point? If you were given the opportunity to speak and squandered it, then you shouldn’t be surprised when a situation/product/service falls short of your expectations.
- Did you communicate clearly? Was everyone on the same page with regard to your desires, or was your correspondence in some way misleading/confusing/opaque? A win-win situation demands that all parties to a conflict state how they want their wishes accomplished in transparent terms.
- Regardless of whether you were provided an input forum, did you engage in self-expression, or did you keep misgivings to yourself? Individuals are not mind readers, and they certainly don’t have your personal agenda front and center in their psyche. The problem of non-communication is most prevalent for introverts who may not lay all their behavioral cards on the table, and who are more likely than extroverts to engage in passive/aggressive behavior. Disappointment lets you off the hook while implying the other person is at fault – it leaves him or her holding the bag while proclaiming you victim.
- Is disappointment merely a self centered attempt to express that you didn’t get your own way, that you had to learn something new, or that you were expected to do things in a manner to which you were not accustomed? Sometimes a negative reaction is simply ego’s revenge at being corrected, at not being treated as the star of the show, or of not being able to march to the beat of its own drummer. The ego is your perception of self as compartmentalized and uniquely separate from your fellow humans. It is the constellation of arrogance, self-righteousness, and self-centeredness.
Avert the disappointment trap by being proactive – partner with other people to collaborate during a process, rather than acting as critic post creation. Be generous with sharing respectful suggestions, with your discourse, and with your view of other people.
Perlow (2003) describes the pernicious nature of unspoken disagreement:
“[Silencing conflict] can create a whole underworld where differences become a destructive force. Each time we silence conflict, we create an environment in which we’re all the more likely to silence the next time. Silencing conflict creates resentment, anger, and frustration in a person. These negative emotions turn into a powerful and harmful agent, making one increasingly self-protective in the relationship and therefore all the more fearful about speaking up. As a result, more acts of silence follow.”
Disappointment implies a smallness of spirit that prefers a solitary, remote approach to problem resolution in which it seeks to get even. At the end of the day, what have you solved except trying to smear another person? If disappointment is the best you have to offer in terms of human relationship, than I think it’s time you expand your emotional repertoire (and your association to the collective). As McTaggart (2002) explains “You [can] only understand the universe as a dynamic whole of interconnection.” Take the initiative and be a part of the solution, instead of a component of problem formation.
McTaggart, L. (2002). The field: The quest for the secret force of the universe. New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers.
Perlow, L. (2003). When you say yes but mean no: How silencing conflict wrecks relationships and companies, and what you can do about it. New York: Crown Business.