How to overcome disappointment (or what to do when things don’t go the way you want)

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We all like to tell ourselves stories about how our life is going to be tomorrow, the following week, in two years, or when we accomplish something. About who we are, about what our role is going to be as a partner, as a father or mother, as a professional,…


Those stories are nothing more than ideas that alienate us from ourselves. And when the time comes, when we’re in the present, it turns out that sometimes (much more often than we admit), what we thought doesn’t correspond with how we feel in the moment.


Have you ever felt differently than you thought you would? That you wanted something different from what you thought you were going to want? In these cases, what we usually do is:


Either try to force ourselves to want what we thought in the past,


Or not stop to feel, to notice whether what you thought you wanted is what you want now. We don’t check. In case our emotions tell us something that isn’t what we expected, we continue living automatically. The conflict is there, but we try not to look at it. Sound familiar?


That is, we do whatever it takes to not accept our reality. What we really want and who we really are.


In my sessions I have many people who:


Try to live life as a couple like they’ve always thought they’d like to.


Try to convince themselves that the job they have is good, because that is what they believed when they decided to go to the university to be able to do it.


Don’t want to recognize that life as a father or mother isn’t as satisfactory as they expected.


In short: They don’t recognize their anger, disappointment, sadness, longing,…


There are many more examples, but what they all have in common is rigidity. They’re not open to life, to be amazed (for better or for worse) by what happens to them day by day. They don’t take life as an adventure for discovering themselves and scrapping the ideas about happiness they had planned out. Dare to throw out what doesn’t work! The ideas that you have about what makes you happy are nothing more than outlines, drafts. The only way to know if something makes you happy or not is to check how you feel in the present! Ideas can confuse you if you take them as something definitive about you. Let them go if they have to go. Because:


In the story that you told yourself, details were missing, or


You’re no longer the person you were, and you want something different (and that’s fine to admit it),


Or both.


Some people have told me that it has helped them when I talk about those ideas as of “stories” or “movies” that they tell or describe to themselves. So I want to share it with you, in case it works for you. To sum up what I’m trying to say:


  1. When you feel disappointment, anger, sadness, or simply confusion, it means that you told yourself a story about how things were going to be and reality is different.
  2. Recall the story again and look at it as just that, a story, a movie. Distinguish it from reality, from the present. It’s important that you realize that they’re two different things.
  3. Your lack of well-being has to do with your attachment to the movie. Can you let it go? Can you focus on your reality, on the present, and realize that, perhaps, it’s not so bad, but simply different from the story that you were expecting?
  4. Take a few breaths, tune into your senses, and look at what you have around you, listen, feel, taste, and ask yourself: Is this really so bad? Is this reality so terrible?


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