Updated: Jan 4
The Art of Disappointment
What could you achieve in your life if you were willing to feel disappointed? But let's take a little step back. What does disappointment feel like to you? Where is it in your body? What kind of thoughts come up for you when you feel disappointed? Disappointment is this insidious emotion that convinces us that we are in danger and that we probably shouldn't try and that we you don't want to put all of your eggs in one basket.
And generally, if you can keep yourself in a mild state of anxiety and disappointment, you won't experience any disappointment or anxiety later. The way that we approach this feeling of disappointment, it's like a fire blanket to everything that lights your life up and puts that little sparkle into your days. We fear disappointment like it's poison in our lives.
And in many ways, it is. It's poison to you being able to take risks that stretch to a place where you can learn new things and experience new things and step out of your comfort zone, and stepping out of our comfort zone means that there might be a risk that we could get something wrong and our brains panic when we think that we might get something wrong.
And your brain is hardwired to try and keep our lives small, safe, and protected. Your brain's job is to try and keep you alive, not to be your friend. So we are genetically disposed to try and be as fearful as possible. And fear doesn't always arrive with hazard tape, flashing signs, and danger noises. Sometimes fear is very clever, and our brains are very clever at tricking us into trying to ensure that we don't do anything that will jeopardise our safety.
Like, I don't know, returning that text message or going to that party or asking for a pay raise or deciding that you're going to write a book or swim the channel or anything else that you feel might be slightly like, what do you what are your big goals that you're planning for the New Year? Quite often, you might have some burning desire that you used to have when you were a kid, and for some reason, namely, the fear of disappointment that's sidelined.
And we present it in very pragmatic terms, like, Oh, I need to be realistic when we're the ones who decide what is. We make all of this stuff up. We’re the grown-ups. We get to make the rules now, and so fear arrives in sneaky little ways. That's going to try and convince you that the thing that you're about to do is probably not a good idea, and fear might arrive for you in the shape of, Oh, I don't have enough time, or that's going to be a lot of effort, or I don't have the skills that other people are better than me.
Other people might laugh at me. How does fear show up for you? Because when it is a feeling of disappointment, it sneaks around the edges like a little bit of an oil slick. And you notice that maybe you're not taking any actions towards the things that really could put a sparkle in your eye and fill your soul.
We have so many opportunities during this New Year period to reflect on the things we want to create and craft and bring into our lives for the coming New Year. And this is a fantastic opportunity for you to pause and think about if you knew that you could survive feeling disappointed. What would you choose to do next year?
What would your big goals be? And when I say you're willing to feel disappointed, that might feel icky to you. But if you think about what disappointment feels like in your body, when you name the physical sensations that alert you to the fact that it is the emotion that's going on, somehow all the fire and the heaviness of it is slightly reduced.
So disappointment for you feels like a heaviness in your stomach, tightness in your chest, dry mouth, a sort of shallowness of your breathing. If you explain this to somebody who's never experienced emotions before, if you were expecting this to a tree, maybe trees have emotions. I wonder if I'll go to ask them. But if you're trying to explain what disappointment feels like to somebody in terms of physical sensations, would you be willing to experience having a tight belly and a dry mouth to get a book published or take those swimming lessons every day or maybe go and ask that person out?
Or sign up for a line dancing class that you've always wanted to do. Who knows what your big thing is? But if you're willing to see that you could handle any emotion in your body because our emotions are just physical sensations that you've dealt with 100,000 million times in your body before that. That's the worst that could happen, a physical sensation in your body that you can process.
Then we don't need to avoid them. We can begin trying to teach our brains that it's safe to take risks and that it's safe for us to be able to learn new things and go on new adventures. I'm hoping that 2023 is filled with many adventures for you. If you had to drop me a line and let me know your New Year's resolution and your needs adventures, I would love to hear them.
I hope this has been useful.