Dealing with Disappointment

Reese Peanut Butter Cup with no Peanut Butter.

Today's post was inspired by true events.

I was going to have a little treat and opened up a Reese Peanut Butter Cup. I took a bite, and there was no peanut butter.

Now, I'm 45 years old. I've had plenty of Peanut Butter Cups in my time. Probably thousands. Never before has one been missing the peanut butter.

This won't change my opinion of peanut butter cups. It won't make me think all peanut butter cups will be missing the peanut butter. Unless it happens the next 10 or 15 times, then my opinion may change.

So let's talk disappointment.

Disappointment usually happens after expectations aren't met. 

Now if you've been in the self-help space for awhile, you've no doubt heard a time or two that you should have "no expectations."

While that can be true-ish, it's also false-ish.

If you are having an experience for the first time or going for a job interview, or going to an event, you probably have some expectations. If you allow your mind to create an entire scenario of how things will go and they don't end up going that way, you may be disappointed or feel let down because you had it mapped out in your mind and it didn't happen that way.

But if you are present and have certain standards, then if the experience doesn't unfold the way you had imagined it to, you can still remain open and make an entirely different situation happen in many cases that is equal in value to the one you imagined, or possibly even better. And even the slightly disappointing ones won't have to mean bad feelings.

For example, if you had a job interview and the job sounded great online and now you've gone to the interview and the place is very disorganized and the interviewer is kind of mean and you just can't wait to get out of there...that is definitely a disappointment regardless of if you went in with "no expectations" or not.

But what you take with you from that is up to you. On the down side, you were looking forward to it and thought it would be much better.  On the bright side, you're not going to work there and won't have to deal with that again.

But, if you had mapped it all out in your mind with high and detailed expectations, "oh this job sounds so great and when I get hired, I'll be able to have a short commute and the salary is so great I'll be able to pay off my car and maybe go on vacation and oh hooray this is so awesome!!"

Well that's a much bigger disappointment and will be more difficult to recover from. 

This also goes for new relationships. Most people can get along for five minutes. A lot of people can get along for a week. Still many can get along for a month. While it may seem exciting and fun and even give a sense of security and looking forward to a happily ever after future with someone, it's not a good idea to get caught up in that type of story within the first few weeks of knowing someone.

Because, like the interview, you're not determining if you can win them over, you're determining if you both are right for each other. And that is going to take place in the current moments that you are together with how you feel around them. Most people aren't being fake but are on their best behavior early on when they like someone a lot. So to be able to get to know someone, even if you like them a lot, especially if you like them a lot, should take some time to wade in, not dive in head first off the deep end.

Because if after a few dates and several weeks and time apart you've been in the present moment and things don't change, you can wade in further, safely, confidently, and with awareness.

But if after a few weeks you've seen them for a great deal of time and spent more time on the phone or messaged them regularly, made all sorts of future plans and then one day they totally turn...it will be much harder to maintain an objective view. And you need that objective view to be able to know when to enter into deeper connections and when not to. If they do turn and you were all in, it will be really disappointing and will hurt to end it, and you'll question your own judgment which then could easily lead to becoming much more wary of everyone else who seems nice in the future. If that happens, a few weeks may end up more damaging than you may realize.

So make sure you know what you want and deserve in all forms of exchanges. When you exchange money for a product, you rightly expect that product will be what it was sold to you as. When you are going to exchange your time and effort for money and experience in a job, you need to know your worth and value and have that exchanged fairly with money and appreciation. Most importantly, when you are going to exchange your time, effort, and heart in a relationship, you need to know what you deserve and your standards ahead of time so that you won't just accept any treatment that comes your way after the initial few weeks.

When you know yourself, value yourself, and have established standards, you don't have to really worry about being on the lookout for red flags. You'll be able to recognize when that's not what you agreed to, that's not what you want, or that's not what you deserve. You'll be able to recognize when you need to pass, and it will still be disappointing, but it will also be a relief.

- Doe Zantamata

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