Disappointment is one of those things we do our very best to avoid. We try to avoid feeling it and causing it.
Honestly, disappointment is an edge for me, too. I can have a tendency to work pretty hard to avoid it, just like the rest of us (whether we realize it or not). If you have caught yourself enduring through a task and feeling resentful or angry about it, or not really enjoying yourself, you might have been trying to avoid disappointing someone by saying no when you needed to.
On the flip side, if you have had the feeling of not reaching for something you wanted, you might have been trying to avoid feeling disappointment. Feedback from your partner might be along the lines of “you seem distant” or “is there something you are not telling me?”
The thing about disappointment is: it is inevitable.
Often, disappointment is not inflicted on us to purposely cause hurt feelings, but it can be a product of having expectations and different needs at different times. That is the nature of being human and being in a relationship.
It is important to recognize that disappointment can truly be a painful experience; it can bring up all sorts of old hurts such as not being good enough or being too much, which can also translate to not being lovable. So, of course we try to avoid that, because it does not feel good.
The other thing about disappointment is when we avoid it, we are not being truly authentic with ourselves or our partners. That can mean we are holding back from the person we love and the relationship we are in.
Wouldn't it be amazing if we could show up in our relationship without ever disappointing our partner or feeling disappointment?
Yes, of course, that would be awesome. It would also be awesome if money fell from the sky every time it rained. Unfortunately, that is not realistic to work toward or plan for. Money will not be falling from the sky and disappointment is going to happen.
So, what do we do when the possibility of disappointment shows up? The first thing is being able to notice it. If you have become really good at doing things for other people when you do not really want to, it is going to take some practice to learn when and how to say no.
The edge is usually around speaking up before you have gone too far beyond your “no.” If you feel anger or resentment, that is a good indicator you have gone too far.
On the other hand, notice when you want something, but try to avoid it by pushing it down or distancing yourself from the want. The key here is noticing sooner and not allowing the urge to avoid to drive you.
When disappointment shows up, have a mini celebration for the courage it took to show up authentically and then work toward repair.
Niseema Emery is a certified intimacy and relationship coach in Powell River.