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I’ve been doing this new thing where I allow myself to get my hopes up. I talked about it recently on Storyline and you should read that post first in order to fully understand this one. The problem with allowing myself to get my hopes up means I’m allowing myself to get disappointed. The problem with getting disappointed is that I feel disappointed, and the problem with feeling disappointed is that it doesn’t feel good.
Think about it, the last time you felt genuine disappointment. You had hoped something would happen and it didn’t. For me, now that I’m allowing this disappointment thing into my life, I’ve noticed that I’ll feel it in my whole body. I walk around a little slower, I actually “hang my head.” I reach for a cup in the cabinet at a glacial pace, fill it up with water, slink back to my couch, slip slowly. It doesn’t even taste good.
As I said in the Storyline post, Dr. Brene Brown talks about how living with disappointment is easier than feeling disappointment. I get this now. Because when I lived in it, I did not have the high of hope to come off of. There was less distance to fall. Now, I feel it when I hit the ground. But as hard as it hurts, I know that what I’m gaining is future joy. Because we can not selectively feel emotions, says Brown. When we numb disappointment, we numb joy. But when we feel disappointment, we feel joy.
So that leaves us with the question of what to do when we are feeling the disappointment as we sit on the couch with the cold glass of water that took us 8 minutes to fill up. This is what I’m figuring out now and I think the answer is to press in. Don’t shove the emotion away and pretend it’s not there. Allow yourself to feel it. Kind of like grieving. Maybe exactly like grieving.
The pain of disappointment is real and deep no matter how petty the circumstance may seem. I once ran up to my room crying when I was in high school because I had just discovered I had been wait-listed at a college I didn’t even want to go to in the first place. It’s just a real reaction and pressing in allows us to feel it, and somewhere deep down you know you’ve felt it before and it doesn’t last forever. It’s like a toddler. A two-year-old reacts dramatically when disappointed with tears and cries, but 30 minutes later he’s bounced back and happy again. Maybe the kids have it right.
We forget how buoyant we are. We forget that we’ll wake up, maybe tomorrow, and the joy will have crept back in.