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.