Expectations are powerful things. Some people are more naturally optimistic and have mainly positive expectations. Others err on the side of pessimism and tend to expect very little. Whether you are a glass half full or glass half empty type of person I wonder how you respond when your expectations are not met? How do you deal with disappointment? The space between what we would like to happen (our ideal) and what actually does happen (the real) has been described as ‘the disappointment gap.’
Ideal Disappointment Gap Real
People usually respond to this disappointment gap in one of four possible ways:
Sadly we might also face much, much bigger disappointments in life that are much harder to get over. There is no easy answer to these and it is important to emphasise that disappointment is not something that can be explained away or dismissed. It needs to be acknowledged and felt. But recognising when you have become stuck in a ‘disappointment gap’ can enable you to choose to respond to your situation:
i) with acceptance and kindness rather than attack and blame (what would I say to a friend struggling with this? What would I like someone who cares for me to say to me?)
ii) with some thinking about what your ideals are and what beliefs they are based on.
iii) with observation of your thinking style – (am I discounting positives? Am I going in for all or nothing thinking? Am I overgeneralizing?)
iv) by developing small achievable targets for ways to move forward.
Finally I would like to emphasise a small but clever trick the mind likes to play called ‘personalisation’ - experiencing disappointment does not make you a disappointment!
Dart to the heart;
In it goes.
On it goes;
In and through.
Now it’s out,
Time to heal.
Mull and muse.
Express yourself so that
New meaning can emerge;
Then hope to soar again.