“I’m not going to be able to hang out tonight after all,” my date texts me.
My body tenses in anger.
I start thinking about all the ways he’s wrong to be canceling on me.
He shouldn’t have committed in the first place. He should be giving me more notice. He should say he’s sorry. He should offer another time we can get together.
My righteousness is rising. I start composing just the right reply to make him see the error of his ways. I’ll show him! How dare he treat me this way!!
Then — thankfully, miraculously — a small voice in my head pauses me.
My inner witness whispers, “Have you noticed that you’re disappointed?”
The shards of revenge that my anger was blowing into a rising cyclone clatter back to the ground around me.
In the quiet, I notice a pinch at the base of my heart.
“I’m disappointed,” I say out loud to the empty room.
I repeat it a little louder: “I’m disappointed.”
A few tears leak out.
I start flailing my arms and stamping my feet. “I’m disappointed! I’m disappointed!”
Within 2 minutes I’m calm again.
I don’t know about you, but somewhere along the way from birth to grown woman, I became blinded to my own disappointment.
It must not have been safe to feel at one point.
So I learned all sorts of coping strategies: Blame, anger, resentment, revenge.
I build complicated edifices around the pricks and wounds that come when I don’t get what I want.
I’ve watched friends do this too.
Recently, I’ve discovered the incredible magic of disappointment, simply named.
It’s so innocent. So reasonable. So not in need of defense.
When I can notice that I’m disappointed, and give myself room to feel it, a storm passes.
The dream lost can be grieved.
The adult woman in me can make a wise, informed choice about how to proceed.
I no longer waste energy in the murky eddy of “something’s wrong.”
This simple trick has helped me lately in both my life and in my business.
And I suspect this blindness to disappointment may be widespread in our culture.
What’s your relationship to your disappointment?
Does it blow through clean like the weather, or does it get stuck, linger, and morph into other, more complicated things?
Could you notice and feel it more often? What difference would that make?
PS – Did you know the PS is usually the most read part of an email? To follow the rules of good marketing, put a call to action here. (Or don’t. Artists break rules.)
This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.