Yet another revelation

I recently had a bad experience. For the most part it was avoidable, which for someone with my personality, makes it that much worse. Because then I get pissed off with myself too.

It was frustrating, maddening, annoying, upsetting and to some degree, by the time it became apparent just how badly off the rails it was, there was nothing I could do about it. Which didn’t help. And neither did the fact that it involved someone I hold in high regard, someone I have trusted and counted on, which is why I’m not going into detail about what, exactly, happened.

In truth it doesn’t matter anyway, because the aha moment would be the same, regardless of what happened.

The point is, I’ve discovered that it is much easier to get over anger than disappointment — at least for me. And, in fact, there’s a big difference between anger and disappointment — although clearly, we sometimes confuse the two. Or at least I do. Do you?

I can’t actually believe I didn’t know this before, but apparently I did not. Or at least I’ve never thought about it or dissected my feelings the way I have this time.

To be honest, I don’t know why I chose to analyze this experience. For that matter I wasn’t aware I was doing it, until I had the epiphany. But I think it’s a big lesson, because it will help me deal with situations — and how I handle them — better in the future. Because I’ll be much more aware of what’s driving my reactions.

In this instance, I immediately got angry, which quickly turned to frustration. The frustration — or so I thought at the time — made me cry. It took a day or two — and a conversation with a very wise friend — to put it all in perspective and let it go. So I could spend my time and energy on finding a solution, instead of wallowing in the problem.

It looks as if I have found a solution, which is wonderful. But what’s even better is the understanding I now have about why I had such a melodramatic reaction in the first place — and the awareness that I’m probably the one who’s ultimately responsible — and that the whole thing might have been avoidable.

In the first place, it wasn’t frustration that made cry. It was disappointment.

Where does disappointment come from?

This time it came from me having unrealistic expectations. Of putting this woman on such a high pedestal it was impossible for her to never “fail.”

I didn’t do it consciously, I wouldn’t have done it consciously for the simple reason that I would never want anyone to elevate me to that lofty a perch. I know it’s not sustainable or achievable.

I know we’re all human. We make mistakes. We falter. And that we can only ever do our best. I know that.

I’d set myself up to be disappointed.

What I reacted to was not the actual situation, or problem, or whatever you want to call it. My reaction was based purely and simply on the fact that I was disappointed — wrongly as it happens. The person I’d decided was perfect turned out to be just like the rest of us. Imperfect. Well-intentioned to be sure, but imperfect.

Anger’s like a flame. You strike a match, it catches and, in a moment, it burns itself out. It’s not that easy to get over disappointment — whether it’s self-inflicted or not. Note to self.

15 thoughts on “Yet another revelation

  1. Hard lessons, and surprising that we still set ourselves up for them. It’s hard to limit our expectations sometimes, but sometimes that’s where the change must take place. I admire your honesty and openness, and it’s always good to know that we all encounter these challenges. And that we have the ability to decipher what’s going on and find solutions for moving forward. Great post, Fransi.

  2. What a powerful insight, Fransi. I hadn’t thought about it before, but you’re right. Anger is easier to let go of than disappointment. I wonder if trust is involved in the equation. When someone disappoints me (or I disappoint myself), it is often because I trusted them (me) to do something—or not do something—and that trust was broken. The perfection aspect is compelling, too. Hmmm, I suspect I’ll be mulling this over for a good while. Thanks.

    • Thank you, Donna. For me what was most interesting is realizing that I wasn’t differentiating between anger and disappointment and that is what the most meaningful part of this exercise was. I think it’s important to recognize the difference, because we don’t always automatically feel both. I’ve thought a lot more about this since I wrote the blog post and I have acknowledged that my anger or frustration was, in fact, justified. This person had made an honest mistake out of a desire to help, but it didn’t go well and it was okay for me to be upset because it did leave me in a precarious position. And it didn’t last long, as it shouldn’t have. It was the disappointment that hung around, only at first I didn’t know I was disappointed. I thought I was having a hard time letting go of the anger and that’s not typical of me. I love moments like this. The lessons are really good and important and I walk away from the experience a better and smarter person.

    • Donna, I apologize. I replied to your comment days ago, right after you left it, and for some reason it hasn’t appeared.Thanks so much. I think trust has a lot to do with it, especially on the “disappointment” side of the equation. We’re complex beings and I think it’s important to keep checking in with yourself, to try and understand why we do things and feel a certain way — how and why we react — the good and the bad. And learn from it. It’s a gift we have available to us.

  3. Interesting thought processes Fransi, and you’re right. Disappointment is so much harder to get over than anger. Anger we can deal with because it’s our emotion and can fizzle out as quickly as it erupted whereas disappointment lingers and we see people who have disappointed us for whatever reason in a different light.

  4. Yes .. disappointments to our own little world of self belief come as unexpected reality shocks, and we suddenly find ourselves in deep waters, way out of our imaginary comfort zones …

    • It’s not so much a matter of my being in or out of my comfort zone, it’s more about understanding my feelings and reactions. My anger was understandable and justified. It was legitimate and I acknowledged it, got over it and got on with it. Because I still needed to solve the problem. The disappointment, on the other hand, which lingered was, in this case, my problem and had nothing to do with the other person. I should never have expected her or anyone else to be wrong or to mess up or inadvertently cause me pain or whatever. She didn’t owe me perfection, there is no such thing.

  5. Ah disappointment(s)…difficult yes but great lesson(s). Is it not wonderful that no matter how old one may be; clarity, learning and understanding is still alive and well!
    Great post!

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