Disappointments are part of life. They make us grow and pay attention to what we want, what we have, what we need and what we do not want, need or have.
They cause sadness and loss. They bring us into conscious awareness of our life and or relationships, what is lacking and what fulfilling. Disappointment awakens us to the dreams we had and sill want to satisfy. As such it can be a catalyst.
Realizing disappointment is not to blame a partner nor ourselves, but rather to bring conscious awareness to go after what we want. So many examples abound where someone has lost the race, gone bankrupt, the career ended or the relationship seeming on the rocks and so on. And, these same people do not give up but go to do even more fulfilling things. It is like they righted themselves to be more consonant with their course and proceeded on from there.
As Paul Coehlo, the author says in By the River Piedra I Sat Down and wept, “Our magic moment help us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments — but all of this is transitory it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.” The quote and book title refer to emotion and emotional reactions and how to deal with them. It refers to having the courage to face reality. We could add that sharing the experience will help partners establish more intimacy and knowledge of each other. The strength of the emotion of disappointment can unite people, get them on the same page, bring out empathy and keep them on the road together.
Not to make this difficult emotion into something sweet, but like every emotion, it is many sided. The attitude with which we approach disappointment, how we express ourselves and that we express ourselves helps brings emotion into the open. This is the place it can be dealt with and shared. For example, we may have a disappointing conversation with our partner and by referring back to it and our feelings about it, our partner will understand our feelings. If our partner does not understand, he or she has the chance to not defend but ask and comment and this introduces the type of dialogues that in turn opens us to more emotions and more connection. What began as disappointing now can lead to partners exploring together many more emotions.
So, speak up.
Do not deny feelings.
Share your disappointments.
Use the feelings you have to reach out to your partner.
Help your partner understand yourself.
Susan Schwartz, Ph.D.