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Disappointment and Perspective

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Being disappointed is all about perspective. It took me a long time to realize this. I was under the impression that if someone did something I didn't like, or a situation evolved that I wasn't happy with, then I had the "right" to be disappointed. Of course the disappointment always led to me having the "right" to be upset, depressed, frustrated or even angry. After all, the situation didn't turn out the way it was supposed to, or a particular person didn't behave the way I believed they should. Therefore, it was disappointing to me and I felt let down. I never once thought it was just my perception of the matter that was causing my disappointment and that I could control this!

What I slowly began to realize through studying myself, as well as paying attention to others around me, was that those things that would upset me, would not upset someone else. I also noticed that those things that appeared to be the biggest deal to someone else, only made me laugh. So what was going on? Obviously, it couldn't be the situation itself because that was the one constant thing in each equation. What did change was who was interpreting the situation. That was what was different. So I began to wonder if my perception of a situation, any situation, was something I could control? Could I change the way I perceived something, and therefore, change my emotional reaction? I discovered, that yes it was possible. I wasn't necessarily in control over what happened to me, or around me, but I was definitely in control over how I responded to those situations.

I began to play with this idea a bit. I believe that the people in our lives are great mirrors for how we think and behave, and therefore, can be great educational tools. So I started to focus on the people at work, my fellow employees as well as the customers. I began to pay close attention to what it was they were complaining about and the reasons behind their getting disappointed or upset. I would perceive the situation through their eyes, and then I would force myself to step back from the situation and see the bigger picture. What I always got from this exercise was a different perspective.

What I began to see over and over again was that when most of us get upset it is for one reason and one reason only. The universe is not behaving the way we believe it should behave. This could mean that we didn't get the raise we believed we were entitled too, so we become disappointed. If we had not expected a raise in the first place, however, we never would have been disappointed would we? It could also mean that someone does not treat us in a particular way that we believe we should be treated. Or our dreams don't turn out the way we believe they should have turned out. Or an investment didn't work out the way we thought it would. Or someone dies before we believe they should die. It can be as heavy as that. I am not saying it isn't sad, but at the same time it isn't our choice to say how long someone is to live, now is it? Those are our perceptions of what we want, of how we want the universe to behave. When we get disappointed, we never stop and think that it is our perceptions or beliefs that are wrong. We think it is the universe that is wrong because of how we feel personally! That is a pretty grand stand to take when you think about it.

So how do we change our perceptions? By becoming more aware of what your perceptions and beliefs are. You cannot change what you do not understand. So spend some time looking internally and when you become disappointed, think about what is disappointing you. Is it really the situation or the person, or is it because they are not behaving in a way you believe they should behave? Then slowly as you do this, force yourself to look at the bigger picture of what is going on. Force yourself to see the situation from a new perspective and offer positive spins on what has happened. I believe that the more you do this, the less you will be disappointed because you will stop taking things so personally. You will also begin to realize that the way things turn out are the way things are supposed to turn out, whether they are in line with your beliefs or not. This will lead you to feeling more in control of your emotions as well as of your behaviors and actions. You will also be able to use any challenge as an opportunity to grow, develop, and move your life forward, because you will not continuously be knocked down by disappointment.

© Kim Eickhoff