Disappointment – the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.
We’ve all been there. And that definition just about sums it up perfectly doesn’t it? That feeling of sadness or displeasure all because a hope or expectation comes crashing to the ground. It’s sobering, frustrating, and even maddening at times. There’s so much raw emotion wrapped up in that one word – disappointment.
I have spent a lot of time over the past 4 years studying meditation, mindfulness, and, to some extent also, Buddhism. Interwoven in all of these things is a message of caution about attachment, for it is through attachment that we bring great suffering and misery to ourselves. When we attach ourselves to people, things, ideas, or situations we become very invested in how things progress or turn out between us and those people, things, ideas, or situations. Of course what we often neglect to remember in the midst of all that is that we can’t control anything or anyone other than ourselves. And as a result things seldom work out the way we wanted or expected them to turn out. Hence disappointment.
For me, my study of meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhism was an attempt to understand this oh so familiar cycle in my life and to learn how to release my tendency to become so easily and deeply attached in this way. I understand that if I become less attached to people, things, ideas, and situations then ultimately I will be disappointed less often, and in turn be on that emotional roller coaster less frequently. This was a very appealing concept to me. And so I set about practicing non attachment each day – I meditate, I offer prayers and intentions, and I reflect on my choices and my feelings as they relate to other people, things, ideas, and situations, all in an attempt to attach less and be present more.
Sounds so simple, and in the midst of those daily practices I dare say it even can feel like it is relatively easy. However, life is relentless in its continuous hurling of curve balls. So just when I start to think I’ve got this non-attachment thing down, I find myself in or near a state of disappointment over something. Grr! Snagged again! So, what am I to do? Well, the healing process I have come to rely on recently is that I first feel the feelings and really look at them and where they are originating from. Then I acknowledge the attachment I have assigned to the situation – it is important to be honest about that fact that I got attached in some way. And finally I meditate and offer up prayers and intentions all focused on my continued work on nonattachment. What I do not do is become angry with the other people involved in the situation – they are not to blame for my attachment. I also do not berate myself or become angry with myself. I know those things are not helpful and I also know I am still learning and growing – non-attachment is not easy.
I don’t know if I will ever reach a point where I no longer become attached or no longer feel disappointed about things, but I am finding that the journey to reach that point is powerful, filled with amazing growth opportunities, and completely worthwhile.