Dealing With Disappointment
Many people tell me that they knew something was supposed to happen, a relationship, a career opportunity, or some kind of success, and then it didn’t. And this is after they hired a coach, did self-growth work, saw a therapist, practiced every manifesting idea they could, and followed all the “right steps” toward their goal. They got education, assistance, and even looked at what might be blocking them. They were even willing to sacrifice comfort and financial stability for a time.
Not everyone makes it to the Olympics or winds up on Broadway. And sometimes the people who do aren’t even as talented or skilled as the ones who don’t. Why is this? In the US, we usually blame people for their lack of success, rather than looking at privilege and access to opportunities. For example, being born into a family in which a certain access is already established, like show business, makes establishing an acting career much easier. We often see children of famous writers getting writing contracts at fairly young ages, and so on.
A business professor looked around the class and told us that only ten percent of us would have successful businesses, not because we didn’t get good grades or couldn’t do accounting or anything like that, but because business was fundamentally dealing with people day in and day out. He said many people aren’t good at communicating, and having good people skills was one of the most important things for success in business. How often are people skills taught in school?
I know a dentist who wanted to be a pro baseball player, but he couldn’t run very fast no matter how many miles he logged, how much he worked out, and how hard he tried. He said it was devastating to have to give up that dream. It was a turning point in his life not only to have to work towards another career, but to also find out what he was like when he was thwarted. He said dealing with that disappointment was the single most important experience of his life. He had to figure out who he was when things didn’t go his way. And as he later found out, no matter how competent you are, things often don’t go the way you would like and expect.
Plenty of highly brilliant and talented people who are perfectly capable of “making it big” haven’t. Maybe they don’t have the kind of personality that likes being in front of large groups or wants the spotlight. They might be fine public speakers, but not want to spend much time doing that. Maybe they prefer one-to-one connection rather than dealing with groups. Some may be abrasive and rub people the wrong way. Others simply haven’t gotten their big break, which may involve catching the eye of just the right people. And the timing may simply not work with where they are in their lives.
Most of the people I talk to who have experienced a great deal of success, do talk about how hard they worked to get there, but there is also an element of luck and serendipity that most of them describe, being in the right place in the right time, happening to bump into someone who knows someone, and having helpful “connections.” Some of what happens to us is definitely under our control, like how we behave, what steps we take to move forward. But there is also a random element, a kind of flow, luck, synchronicity, that we may not control, and we are also not in charge of how others choose to behave.
When it comes to relationship, many of us have experienced the end of a friendship, partnership, or marriage because one or both people do not want to continue. No matter what we envisioned for the future, we cannot control what the other person wants. Who are we when our plans go awry? How do we deal with disappointment, and what we tell ourselves in order to reevaluate our lives and make new plans? Blaming yourself for being wrong about investing a relationship, when the other person ultimately changed their mind, is counterproductive. Everyone has a measure of free ill to make decisions, and no matter how much we may believe the road ahead is straight if we plan properly, life is messy. Human relationships are messy. And each of us has the right to decide day by day, if we still choose to be in relationship or not.
In a college philosophy course we were asked if we believed in free will or destiny. I have always thought life is a combination of both operating simultaneously, and that was a decent explanation for the chaotic nature of existence, no matter how much we humans try to impose order upon it. We can blame ourselves for our choices, and we can rail at destiny. Either way, we still have to deal with disappointment sometimes. And hopefully we can learn to pat ourselves on the back, pick ourselves up, and let go of previously held plans, while focusing on a new direction.