When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure.– Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Sometimes I look forward to something and it doesn’t happen.
I feel disappointed. Sometimes, I even feel heartbroken.
I know and sense it’s old and not really about the current situation, and it feels a bit childish to get so disappointed. That may be a reason I haven’t thoroughly looked at this yet. The embarrassment and the thought “it’s childish” serve as gatekeepers for entering and exploring the wound behind it.
I recently had this disappointment triggered again.
The situation triggering disappointment, what does it say about me? What do I tell myself about me in that situation?
I am missing out.
I am unloved. I am uncared for.
I am alone.
These thoughts are familiar to me and came easily. I want to see what more is here.
Others have more fun than me. They are enjoying life more than me. They are getting something I am missing out of.
My life is not worth living. It’s hopeless. It will be like this forever. I am unloved by God. I am unloved by life.
This second set of thoughts are also familiar to me, but I hadn’t seen that they were behind this disappointment and the emotions and states that came with it.
What’s my earliest memory of feeling so disappointed?
I am 6-8 years old and in London on vacation with my parents. I am exhausted from a long day walking around in parks and galleries, and I want and am looking forward to my favorite thing which is coca cola in a can. (We didn’t have coke cans in Norway.) The street vendor doesn’t have it, and I am grief-stricken and angry. My parents buy me a souvenir knife (a small folding knife with ivory on it and a picture of a beef eater). I throw it hard at the ground.
If I bring myself back to that situation, what does it say about me?
Life is over. My life has no meaning. I am unloved. I am uncared for. Life is against me.
Seeing these thoughts, I also see that it makes sense I felt the way I did. The sadness, grief, hopelessness, frustration, and anger didn’t make sense in the context of the current triggering situation, but they do in the context of this early situation where I was worn out and had looked forward to one thing that I didn’t get.
These thoughts spun around in my mind, and although I was not consciously aware of them I certainly experienced their effects in terms of emotions, moods, and states. As I identified these thoughts and wrote them down, I got to see what created these feelings and states, and I got to see that it all makes sense and that it has to do with early experiences in my life. I got to see the innocence of it all. And there is some relaxing of these dynamics just from identifying the thoughts and seeing the innocence of it.