Processing – Disappointment

Disappointment. Do you deal with it alone, or with others?

How do you process disappointing news?  Everybody is different and there is no right or wrong way of processing it.  Some people can work it through quickly and some just get stuck, sulk and stay in that place for a long time.

This week, I was given some disappointing news.  I need to say here that it did not involve sickness or death in anyone.  It was a decision made by another person that affected me, and it could not be thought of as a crisis under reasonable circumstances.  And I suppose there in lies a clue – “under reasonable circumstances”.

On hearing the news I couldn’t believe what I had heard, and needed clarification.  On receiving it again, I was shocked.  I sat quietly for several minutes aware that emotions and feelings were running wild in me.  These included:

  • grief – I was loosing something that had become important to me, although I hadn’t seen it grow to this point in my life.  I cried.
  • it’s not fair – I wanted to behave like a child; to suck my thumb and pull my ear while sitting in a corner.
  • selfishness – My mind was saying that these circumstances, brought about by another person’s decision, was a selfish one on their part.  It was short-sighted and I found myself voicing this out loud.  “Couldn’t they see how this was going to cause me problems?”
  • anger and resentment – This didn’t last long but I was angry for the inconvenience of it all.
  • unstable – My world, at that time, felt as if it was in turmoil.

What I have come to learn is that feelings are NOT necessarily the truth of a situation.  If I chose to believe my feelings and stay in this place of grief, selfishness, anger, and instability I would not be able to move on.

The truth was that I was losing something, but it wasn’t life threatening to me.  I could sulk about it; let everyone know that I had been hard-done-by and get some attention, but it would not change anything.  In fact, to stay in that place would soon become an ugly place of self-pity.  In believing the other party was selfish, I was being selfish too, expecting them to see how their decision was affecting me.  How could they see that?  They were not me.  Holding on to the anger would be dangerous.  It could hold the other person in “bondage” and break a good friendship and, over time, it could make me ill by causing chemicals to flood my body that would build up and not be removed.

If there is one good thing that could be found in the middle of my list that holds some hope, it is “instability”.  Approaching this in a positive way is a challenge, but challenges bring growth and change.

However, we can often seek to obtain stability and comfort in unhealthy ways i.e. alcohol, chemical substances, food, work and other addictions.

At the end of the day, I had choices to make.  I allowed my feelings to arise in me but I didn’t allow them to influence my choices in how I progressed.   They were not the reality of the situation, but a reaction to it.  I was able to sleep, and the next day I could start to talk positively about what the next steps for me could be, and how I could move forward.

How do you process disappointment? 

Is there anything in my list that you recognise in yourself? 

Do you do things differently?

About katehobbs

Mother to two who are now independant and living away from home. Wife to Steve, for the last 26yrs and looking forward to many more years. I have enjoyed 18 months in the Okanagan, something that I have longed to have the opportunity to do for a while. Living a dream, you could say. Now, I am interning with Living Waters Canada based in Vancouver until end of April 2013. I love to grow my own food - it tastes so much better. I also build up, train and encourage others to achieve more than they thought possible.
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14 Responses to Processing – Disappointment

  1. Sonel says:

    Stunning post and yes, I get those feelings as well and just like you I work through those processes as well and I’ve also learned that it doesn’t help holding on to all the negative feelings and thought. I just let them go through me, I recognise the feelings and then I let it go. No use in pondering on it. You’ve described it very well and I am very glad I found your blog. Thanks for your lovely comment and visit on my blog. Looking forward to reading more of your lovely posts. 🙂

    • katehobbs says:

      Thanks for your response.
      Yes, holding on to negative things will eat away at you – quite literally in some cases. I would suggest that this is one reason why there is so much illness around in this world.

  2. Nicely written Kate. I got me thinking about a few things in my own life.

  3. buckwheatsrisk says:

    i have a freak out and then move one…but i need the freak out. 🙂 ummm…pm me??

  4. buckwheatsrisk says:

    i have a freak out then move on…but i need the freak out…btw you ok?

  5. Madhu says:

    I react the same way, but have learnt with experience to let go of my anger, to not take things personally. But took me time to learn to do that! There is a feeling of lightness in being able to put those negative feelings aside!

  6. Taking the time to really articulate your feelings has a way of helping you see things more clearly. I think you’ve hit it right on the head by writing a thoughtful blog post about it. Chin up Kate. I’m hoping you’ll wake up to a sunny morning 🙂

  7. fiztrainer says:

    I know this was posted a few days ago … but, I’m just catching up on things. This post caught my eye because I’ve been dealing with a horrible disappointment that had occurred in my life. So, when I read this I was moved with such compassion towards you because I know what it’s like to be hit with something. To answer your questions: First, processing disappointment: I talk and thank God, I have my husband who listens and tends to be very level headed and loving. I think just voicing your disappointment and the feelings related to it is in and of itself incredibly helpful. I also have to realize, I can be a conduit for that disappointment and thereby become fertile soil for all kinds of negativity to grow which in turn affects people beyond myself. If I stop it in its tracks, I am not only helping myself in the long run, but preventing further hurt in the hearts of others (namely, my family and friends). Sometimes, when we realize that the decisions we make in dealing with these kinds of things can affect others we love, it helps us to make the right decisions. Second, do I relate to how you responded. Absolutely. We are all human beings and are wired very much the same way. I think we all react to one extent or another, the same way. You just had the wisdom and strength to keep a handle on it and not let it take over to which I applaud you. Third, doing things differently. It’s hard to answer this one because in some cases, yes, and in others, no. It really depends on how deeply I’ve been hurt. Sometimes, it can be harder than others to get a handle on it. But, in other cases, for some reason, even when it is really painful, you do get a handle on it. It seems to depend on where things are at at the moment. I was so encouraged by this post and I thank you for being so transparent and honest in sharing.

    • katehobbs says:

      Thank you for taking the time to write here. I, too, talk to God about my disappointments etc., as He should be the first person we turn to. However, that isn’t always the case I have to confess that and receive peace about that. Steve, my husband, was the messenger on the occasion of this disappointment. He told me the news and then sat there watching as I processed everything. He could have said so much, but wisdom and, I suspect, God stopped him from saying anything.
      I am learning that being open, truthful, vulnerable and real are strengths – contrary to what the world would say to you. Therefore, I am slowly opening up and it can be scary. It can be even more fraught in a blog post because you only have the words of the ‘communication’. There is no body language or tone to give you the whole. I have to trust that what I want to say is relayed to the reader. I think you picked up what I was trying to say and I thank you for responding.

      Every blessing, Kate

      • fiztrainer says:

        You are so right about God being THE One to go to. I’m glad for that. In my situation, because of what happened, I didn’t think I could turn to anyone. I was afraid to even turn to God. I did in time, find the strength and, yes, the courage to finally open up. Because I didn’t for so long, I caused the situation to fester within me and it took a lot longer to “clean up” if you will, than it could have if I had just done what you did right from the start. I think you are very courageous and very strong. Also, you are a great example to others. Thanks again for sharing, and I will pray for you that you can continue to process through all that you may continue to face. Blessings.

  8. Thanks Kate, I enjoyed your post. For me it is the word process that makes the point. It is HOW we process that makes the difference between healthy or unhealthy responses to situations. Well done and thanks for an interesting read.

    • katehobbs says:

      Hi Geraldine. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.
      We are all processing something. I am trusting that I do so in a healthy way.
      Hope to see you here again sometime.

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