Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time, just like it does for you and me.
The quest of finding happiness is possibly the only goal shared among all human beings – past, present or future. Who doesn’t want to find happiness in his or her life? It’s a silent goal nonetheless. We don’t mutter much about it and most of the time it lurks in the deep inner workings of our minds. Curious isn’t it?
The odd fact is we spend billions of research dollars & euros into treating mental illnesses with drugs, but not much effort goes into understanding the science of happiness or mental well-being. This fact alone compels me to write about the subject.
The title of this article is in itself revealing – “how to find happiness within yourself” suggests from the outset that you should look for happiness within yourself and that happiness is general to be found within. This is also a very curious thing to me. Why are we always trying to find happiness in all kinds of places but hardly ever attempt to find happiness within?
Harry is 67. He lost his wife to cancer almost three years ago now. He saw his daughter pass through a marriage breakdown and divorce. He hardly gets to see his grandchildren because his daughter moved to another city after her divorce. He misses the fishing trips with his brother Joe who also passed away recently. He is relating less and less to a changing hostile world where he is constantly reminded he is an unwanted burden.
Yet there is one major twist to the story. Harry is happy, radiantly happy. How can this happen? I mean if there are people who have passed through all sorts of heartbreaking episodes and hardships but are happy, what’s their story? Conversely, if there are people (and lots of them) who have acquired all sorts of merit, possessions, and good fortune yet is deeply unhappy, what does this say about finding happiness?
Finding happiness by losing old mental models:
One major flaw in the way we live our lives is that we have learned how to be unhappy rather than how to be happy. We have built certain mental models of our reality and these limit us or lead us astray from finding real happiness. Naturally this leads us to the understanding that finding happiness requires us to unlearn certain things and look for it in different pathways. It requires us to look into flaws in our belief system and change them.
One of these mental models we adopt is the belief that we need to reach a certain goal or outcome to be happy, the so-called ‘if-then model’ (if this happens then I will be happy). For example that we should get a better income, financial freedom, recognition of our work, sexier bodies, satisfying relationships and so on. It’s always something around the corner which needs to happen first before we reach happiness.
I know you have many times got to the realization yourself that it just doesn’t work that way. Once you reach that corner there is always another corner to reach. Happiness is not found in anything outside ourselves. We already have all the material at hand to be happy. It’s a matter of shifting our perspective and beliefs completely.
Some mental models to take note of and debunk:
• Happiness is the pleasure: No. Pleasure is instant gratification – physical or mental. Happiness is knowing that you are where you should be or accepting that you are not and doing your best while you’re there.
• Happiness is comfort or security: We live most of our lives in constant security threats – our jobs, our children out at night, our health, etc. The truth is that security or lack of it is based on perception. Happiness is living well in a very unstable world.
• I don’t deserve happiness: Yeah, says who? Another human quirk – self-inflicted limitation. Happiness is for everyone, wherever you come from, whatever you did and no matter what’s your idea. Happiness is open-source.
• It’s impossible to find happiness in this world: Another example of self-limiting beliefs. Wrong. Happiness is as possible to find as unhappiness.
• People who reached their goals are invariably happy: Again, says who? People who reached their goals are not happy because they reached their goals. On the contrary, some are eternally dissatisfied and keep on seeking, other goals in life – a real source of unhappiness. But yes some people found happiness while reaching those goals since they were living their true purpose and enjoying every moment of it. Their eyes were on the doing and not on the reaching.
Finding Inner Happiness Through Finding Inner Peace
So many stories around us, like that of Harry, seem to point at the overlooked obvious – that you will only find happiness within yourself. Well, that’s very good news since you don’t need to look far away to find happiness – like for example running after expensive, energy-consuming and ultimately unsatisfying goals. It’s there right within you. As scientist Zen Buddhist Jon Kabat-Zinn perfectly immortalized in one of his book titles: “Wherever you go, there you are.”
When life rocks your boat to the point of wrecking it or when the proverbial crap hits the ceiling fan you will reach a y-point which will either make you or break you. So many people like Harry managed to find happiness & inner peace through the most turbulent and upsetting moments of their lives by making use of their internal resources, by finding happiness within rather than in external points of reference.
The key to happiness, or, in other words, that of finding true inner happiness, is by finding your inner peace – that center of calm inner knowing which is the real source of your being rather than those mental projections or models imposed by your social background.
There are many pathways to find your inner peace but before I start sounding too metaphysical I’d reckon that the greatest and shortest path is that of acceptance. Let go of your expectations, inner struggle, and frustrations when things don’t turn out exactly, the way you want them. Acceptance is an extremely powerful tool to finding inner happiness. It shouldn’t be confused with resignation or passiveness.
We often fail to understand the power of acceptance because it comes from the heart, not the mind. Its power, in fact, comes from transcending the resistance and inner currents of the restless mind which are often the source of our anxieties, stress, and inner conflict.
Acceptance is when we drop all, our mental models (like the if-then model), often in a moment of clarity or awareness where we become conscious that there is another life outside this madness, outside this huffing and puffing trying to acquire one goal after the other in the wrong belief that there is an ultimate goal post called happiness somewhere on the finishing line.
Ask yourself – how much of what’s going on in your life do you accept? Are you constantly feeling you should be at some other point in your life? Or do you somehow feel at peace with all aspects of your life and make use of them with all their limitations?
Other pathways to inner peace:
• Compassion: Some people admirably manage to find the time and energy to help other even when they are facing rough seas themselves. Even though this comes out from an act of compassion and selflessness, it is also a doorway to their own inner peace. In fact although it seems quite hard to do in moments when we are down and out, giving attention to others’ needs is a way of getting ‘out of your head’ which, ironic as it sounds, is a fast remedy to unhappiness.
• Seek the support of others: Well, it works both ways too. Helping others is a way to shift your center of attention away from your ailments. However seeking any form of support from others is a way of finding reinforcement and encouragement and is highly recommendable.
• Be grateful to everything around you: Because we so often forget of the little miracles happening around us on a daily basis. We only think about what’s missing instead of counting our blessings. Being thankful to life is not some wishy-washy magical spell that washes away all your troubles. Rather it is an exercise in which you become aware of the positive and meaningful things happening in your life, a real booster.
A common cause of relapse in schizophrenia is “difficulty managing high levels of stress,” according to Susan Gingerich, MSW, a psychotherapist who works with individuals with schizophrenia and their families.
Learning to manage stress isn’t just important for preventing relapse; it’s also important because stress is an inevitable part of facing new challenges and working to accomplish personal goals — “what recovery is all about,” write Gingerich and clinical psychologist Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D, in their book The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia.
Learning to navigate stress healthfully is key for family and friends, too. Having a loved one with schizophrenia can be stressful. Taking care of yourself enhances your well-being and daily functioning. And it means you’re in a better, healthier place to help your loved one.
In their comprehensive book, Mueser and Gingerich share excellent tips for helping your loved one and yourself cope with stress (along with valuable information on schizophrenia and how you can support your loved one).
Here are those suggestions and insights on managing and alleviating stress.
Recognizing Stress Signs
What one person finds enjoyable, another can find stressful. In the same way, how people respond to stress will differ. For instance, one person might exhibit changes in mood, such as becoming depressed and anxious, while another person will show physical signs, such as experiencing headaches and a heightened heart rate.
So it’s important to talk to your loved about their individual signs of stress. Talk about your personal signs, as well. Create separate lists for each of your reactions to stress.
It’s also helpful to support your loved one in creating a stimulating environment with reasonable expectations. For instance, rather than attend a day program three times a week, one man preferred volunteering twice a week delivering meals to housebound seniors.
Plus, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Eat nutrient-rich foods, get enough sleep, participate in physical activities and engage in fun hobbies. Help your loved one identify what kinds of activities they’d like to do, too.
As the authors point out, because of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, individuals can have a hard time thinking of enjoyable activities. Talk with them about the activities they’ve enjoyed in the past.
Be sure to give yourself and your loved one credit. (Being self-critical just spikes your stress.)
Mueser and Gingerich note how one father acknowledges the positive things that happen on a daily basis: “I’m proud of how persistent my daughter has been in pursuing her art career in spite of the many difficulties she’s encountered. We both have a lot to learn about coping with this illness, but we’ve also come a long way.”
Learning to Cope with Stress
Emphasize the importance of your loved one communicating with others when they’re feeling stressed, since “these feelings can be an early warning sign of relapse,” according to the authors. Make sure you, too, are able to turn to individuals who understand your situation.
Have family meetings to talk openly about the stressor and brainstorm potential solutions. Learn to use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization (such as imagining a serene beach scene).
Self-defeating thoughts only bolster stress for both of you. Try to practice positive self-talk and teach your loved one to do the same.
Mueser and Gingerich share the example of a father helping his daughter reframe her hospitalization, which made her feel like a failure: “I’m sorry you had to go through that, but I’m proud of you for getting help when you needed it and for being so strong in dealing with this illness. You’re a survivor.”
Don’t underestimate the power of humor. Try to find the lighter side of a stressful situation, according to the authors. It’s not always – or usually – easy, but it helps with stress. Plus, you and your loved one can enjoy a funny film or sitcom to lessen stress.
For some people, religious services and prayer can be very helpful. For others being in nature may feel like a spiritual experience and shrink stress.
Again, regular exercise — around three times a week — that you enjoy is important for both of you. Journaling can provide a great source of stress relief. “Many people with schizophrenia say that writing down what they experience, think, and feel is an important outlet.”
See if your loved one is interested in listening to music or making music themselves, such as singing or taking lessons; visiting art exhibits or creating their own art; playing games with family and friends, and pursuing other hobbies.
As the authors emphasize, people with schizophrenia are “more sensitive to the effects of stress because it can trigger symptom relapses and rehospitalizations.” Helping your loved one deal with stress in a healthy way helps them pursue their personal goals and improves their life.
Plus, working together to develop healthy coping strategies can strengthen your relationship and gives you plenty of opportunities for savoring quality time.
Going through heartbreak can feel like being underwater when you need to breathe. We build our lives with someone we trust and care for, and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s all gone. This can leave people with sorrow, anger, and some serious questions — about ourselves and the future. If you’re dealing with heartbreak and want to heal, try these suggestions to find the new you.
Method 1 of 3: Making Time For Yourself.
1. Give yourself some me time.
You’ve probably been in a relationship for a while, or maybe you’ve been thinking about that person non-stop for months. Now is the time to take a step back, look at your life, and move on to the next challenge. Everyone falls down. It’s how you get back up that defines you.
- Take a weekend to do whatever it is you love most. Whether it’s surfing, hiking, cooking, or simply being around your friends, use the opportunity to surround yourself with happy people and do the things that make you happy.
- Start a journal to record how you feel. Writing things down can be a powerful release. It’s called “catharsis,” where you purify your mind through expression. Write about whatever you want to write about. You’ll feel a lot better after you do.
- Don’t be afraid to feel sad. It’s normal to feel sad. Don’t feel inferior or stupid if you cry or get upset — these things are normal. Going through grief is just another step along the path to recovery. Let yourself grieve.
2. Remove all the memories of the person from your everyday life.
You’re not trying to pretend like the person never existed, just temporarily forget how much they meant to you and how they broke your heart.
- Go through your room and remove all pictures of, letters from, references to the person you’re trying to stop obsessing over. If you have a journal in which you write about the person, begin a completely new one. It’s a symbolic new beginning, but an important one.
- Removing is different from destroying. Don’t burn or destroy any objects associated with the person, unless you’re sure that you never want them to be any part of your life in the future. When you’re old and completely in love with someone who loves you just as much back, the memories will be a record of all that you went through to get to where you are now.
3. Disconnect the person from all the social networks you use.
Nowadays, we have our regular lives and our online lives. Unsubscribe from the person on Facebook, unfollow them on Twitter, and work so that your online network doesn’t remind you of the person who broke your heart.
- If you feel like writing them, create a fake email account (for example, a Gmail account) and send the emails to that account. That way you can put all your hurt and pain into words and get it off your chest, but there is no chance your ex will actually see it.
4. Exercise and eat right.
Go the gym or get outside and sweat. Physical activity increases the amount of serotonin in the brain, which acts like a natural antidepressant, improving your mood. It’s okay to eat ice cream and milkshakes every once in a while (who doesn’t do that?!) but it’s best to continue to eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and water. These will not only make you look fantastic, but feel fantastic as well.
5. Try not to be in the same place as the person, if possible.
This is hard to do, obviously: The other person has probably been an important part of your life for some time, and your body and brain are used to having them around. But giving the other person up, like cold turkey is a good way to tell your body and mind that there are plenty of other people in the world who deserve your attention. Why not give them a chance?
- If you go to school with the person, avoid the person as much as possible. Don’t sit with them at lunch; don’t participate in the same voluntary projects. Take the classes that you finally want to take. As much as possible, make yourself scarce when that person is around.
- Don’t put yourself in situations where you could bump into one another. You know what places the person goes to because you used to share love. If the person loves going to the gym early Saturday, only go during the weekday. If the person loves going to the local farmer’s market, try to go really late or early if you have to go. (Best would be to avoid altogether.)
- Be courteous if/when you bump into the person. There’s no use being mean, angry, and boastful if you run into the person. Say “hi” the way you would to a friend, have a short, impersonal chat, and say goodbye. The best payback that you can give the other person is to live a full, happy, meaningful life without them.
6. Stay optimistic.
This is easier said than done, but whenever you feel yourself being overly negative, dwelling on the past, or just looking at the glass as half-empty, try to snap out of it. Remind yourself of everything you have and how lucky you are.
- Smile as much as possible. It’ll help you feel better and look great. Watch funny movies, read funny books, or hang with funny friends.
Method 2 of 3: Understanding and Forgiving.
1. Figure out what went wrong in your relationship.
Every relationship has its strengths and weaknesses. Figure out what went wrong in your relationship, or what wasn’t so great about the other person. This way you can grow in the future, or look for better traits in your next partner. There are a bunch of things that can normally go wrong in a relationship, but here are just a few:
- I never felt loved/I always felt put down. A relationship is all about love, and if you didn’t feel that in the relationship, that’s a big problem. Your partner doesn’t have to show love the same way that you do, but they should be able to show it somehow. It’s the least you deserve.
- I felt manipulated/used/lied to. Honesty and honest intentions should be a cornerstone of every relationship. True love is doing something for someone else without expecting anything back. Someone who manipulates, uses, or lies is only really looking out for themselves, not you.
- The love just wore off after a little while. The early part of a relationship, when you fall for one another, is when you’re infatuated. This means you’re completely carried away with the person, mainly because they’re new. After a while, this feeling naturally wears off for some. If the other person is no longer in love with you, try to feel lucky for the time you did have.
- I was cheated on. Trust is huge ingredient in a relationship. If you don’t have trust, you’re constantly second-guessing yourself or feeling jealous. If your partner cheated on you, that trust is probably gone. Let someone earn your trust in the future, and pay them back in kind.
2. Don’t obsess over whose fault it was.
You probably have room for growing, too, so try not to pin all the blame on just the other person. Focus on the issues, not the actors.
- For example, if you were part of a manipulative relationship, don’t just say “He manipulated me and I didn’t deserve that.” Instead, tell yourself, “I’m not going to let someone manipulate me the way this person did because I’m going to look out for all the signs in the future.”
- There are probably some things you wish you could change or take back. Focus on fixing those issues for your next relationship. It will give you extra motivation.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you learn from them that defines you as a person. Learn from what went wrong in your last relationship — what caused you to be heartbroken — and make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.
4. Once you’re ready, forgive the other person.
Forgiveness is an important part of healing your broken heart. In order to move on, you need to forgive the other person, or you’ll constantly be thinking about them or wondering why they hurt you.
- Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight. It can take a long time to be able to forgive someone, so be sure you’re actually ready to forgive. Usually, finding someone who truly loves you is a great way to forgive the other person.
- How do you forgive someone? Recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Try to find their intentions, and understand why they were doing what they did. Try putting yourself in their shoes. You don’t have to come up with an answer, but try to come up with an idea.
- You don’t have to tell the other person you forgive them, but it helps. You can forgive them silently in your heart, if that’s the way you want to do it. But you may want to have a friendship with them in the future; telling them you forgive them will make that friendship easier.
5. Don’t argue with the other person.
Sometimes you give the other person a chance to speak their mind, or to talk about an issue that went wrong. We do this to get closure. If you are discussing things with the person who broke your heart, be a little guarded and don’t let the conversation turn into an argument.
- If the person tries to defend what happened in the relationship and gets angry, you can say: “I didn’t come here to argue. I respect you as a person and your opinions, but the time for arguing has passed. If we’re going to continue to talk, let’s talk like adults or not talk at all.”
- Don’t let the other person manipulate you. The other person might try to get you angry or provoke you with something hurtful or mean. Don’t give them the satisfaction of letting it hurt you. Stay calm, collected, and serene.
Method 3 of 3: Turning Your Life Around.
1. Lean on your friends.
Your friends are there to help you, to comfort you when you’re feeling bad, and inspire you to feel good. Deep down, your friends love you. It’s not unreasonable to lean on your friends as you deal with a broken heart. They’re maybe the ones who will help you out of it.
- Do everyday activities with your plans. Plan a movie night by buying tickets in advance. Go to the zoo, to the beach, or out to dinner. Remember the fun you used to have doing all the silly things. Try to recapture that part of your life.
- Have a talk with your best friend about your heartbreak. Confide in them. Give yourself a chance to vent to someone who completely has your back. You’ll feel a whole lot better.
2. Channel your energy into new activities.
What we miss when a relationship ends is that we can’t express our love anymore. We can’t express our excitement to someone who’s interested because they’re interested in you. You can continue this form of heartfelt expression, however, by writing poetry, painting, singing, dancing, etc. Do whatever it takes to allow you to transform your pain into something productive!
- Pick up a new skill. Try doing something you know little about, so it forces you to engage in the world in a different way. Try glass-blowing, ceramics, a new instrument, or cave diving. Be adventurous and open to new possibilities.
- Volunteer. Learn to give back to your community, however big or small it is. Volunteering will help you see the real impact you have on people’s lives, and should show you how fortunate you are to have everything you do.
3. Go on a trip.
It doesn’t need to be far, but it should be far enough to give you a little bit of perspective. The world is such a big, beautiful place; you should take advantage of it. Bring some camping supplies or bunk it with that friend you haven’t seen in a while. A little bit of distance can do wonders for your broken heart.
4. Tap your imagination.
Nothing makes getting over a broken heart harder than feeling trapped. And it may be cheesy or cliché, but your imagination will let you go places you’ve never been and experience things you might never see. Use it. You’ll feel better.
- Read a book every night before you go to sleep. You might never have read books, but nothing moves you outside of yourself better than a book. It will help you heal.
- Fantasize about your future. Leave the person who broke your heart out of it. Fantasize about your career, your home, your family, and your travels. You should feel inspired to realize them. Focus on the potential of the good.
- Stretch your goals. Your goals will give you motivation to get off your butt and do something. Ask yourself, what are my goals? If you don’t have any, make some. Be ambitious and shoot for the stars. You won’t regret failing, but you will regret not trying.
5. Once you feel ready, start dating other people again.
After two or three months, many people feel ready to date again. Be sure you’ve fixed some of the issues you had in your previous relation, and try not to make the same mistake twice!
- If you’re not ready to jump back into a serious relationship, tell the person you’re dating that you just got out of a relationship and want to take things slow. Hopefully, the person understands. If they don’t, they’re not a good fit for you.
- Don’t look for perfection right away. A lot of times, we keep ourselves from entering into relationships because we want to find the perfect man/woman. If you’re looking for Mr/Ms Perfect, you won’t have much luck. Look for someone who’s kind, sharing, funny, smart, and relatable. The rest will take care of itself.
- Don’t be afraid to love. You have to open yourself up to possible heartbreak if you want to love again. But it’s worth it. The love wouldn’t mean as much if it didn’t hurt when it is ripped away. Give your heart to the right person and they’ll reward you infinitely.
6. Remember the two-year rule.
It takes two years to learn a new job, two years to get accustomed to a new town, and two years to completely heal a broken heart. If you expect to be completely healed in a day after a three-year relationship, you could be sorely disappointed. Real results are obtainable when realistic expectations are set.
- Take a moment to lie back and breathe. The stress can block your brain from thinking clearly.
- It really helps if you have good friends who can watch over you and prevent you from doing and/or saying something that you will end up regretting!
- Reflect on all the other types of “love” you have in your life and not on the love you’ve lost.
- Do not go on any dates with the person from whom you are trying to heal. This is not productive and will not lead to healing. There is no more closure. There is only healing. Think of it as cutting a wound open that has stopped bleeding and started closing.
- Show confidence to yourself.
- Stop obsessing over the person!
- Just take a breather. It’s going to hurt for a while. Try not to hook up because it’s just not healthy.
- Focus on you. Do things that make you happy.
- Know that everything happens for a reason; maybe it happened to let you know that you are brave or that you should not repeat the mistake again.
- Think of the bad things that caused the relationship to end rather than the good because it will help you to move on.
- Act happy and confident around that person, so it shows you have moved on!
- Do not have contact with the person you are trying to forget.
- At first it may help you to write down all of the bad things about your ex and re read them when you feel weak. However, after a few weeks you should be writing down all of the great things about yourself and concentrating on that. Then, think about all the great things you can do now.
- For a quick fix in the aftermath of the heartbreak – eat something delicious. Chocolate is the number one heartbreak food because it genuinely helps just that little bit. It doesn’t fix anything but it lifts your spirits a little because chances are they will be crushed on the floor and need all the lifting they can.
- Don’t put the person down to lift yourself up!
- If you need to tell a friend about your heart-breaking loss, do it one time only. You will need your friend later, so best to not wear out your welcome with him/her.
- Find a new friend who is going through the same thing. This allows you to focus on someone else besides yourself.
- Nostalgia will last for a long time after you heal.
- Once you feel comfortable talking to them again, try to build a friendship. Maybe you can start over but it’s not guaranteed.
Most of us will come up against disappointments, both big and small, as we journey through life. Often we choose to complain to anyone who will listen, or to blame others when things don’t go our way.
It’s important to acknowledge our disappointments and not just shove them under the table, and to maybe examine why we had certain expectations.
I firmly believe that our feelings are our own responsibility and that no-one else can make us feel good or bad. It is our reaction to other people and situations that determines how we ultimately feel. But how can we learn to deal with disappointment in an effective and constructive manner?
Coping with Disappointment :
The first thing you need to do in learning to deal with disappointment is recognize your coping mechanisms. Everybody has their own way of dealing with events and situations – their self-medicating strategies. For example do you reach for food, (chocolate, ice-cream, cake); alcohol, (get drunk and try to forget); take yourself off somewhere to hide, (under the duvet), or indulge in a spot of retail therapy, (credit card blow out)?
These strategies may make you feel better temporarily but rarely get to the root of the problem and often will bring new issues to give you grief, such as being overweight, in debt, or lonely. And then the cycle will start again.
So how about breaking that cycle and developing some new strategies?
5 tips for effectively dealing with disappointment:
1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling. You can honestly express the emotions you’re feeling without blaming or punishing others. This is about how you feel about the situation, not other people. Articulate your feelings without attacking others. Always be respectful, but don’t be afraid to let them know how you feel.
• There isn’t a right or wrong way to feel.
Your feelings are valid and if you don’t voice your opinion then you’ll harbour resentment and stress yourself out. Be honest with yourself about how you really feel about the situation. If you don’t have another individual to talk to, then journal your feelings. In some way or another get them out and expressed.
2. Put things in perspective. Even small disappointments can seem monumental at first, especially if we have built up our expectations. But once you’ve expressed your hurt, frustration, or anger, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. How much of an effect is this disappointment going to have on you tomorrow, next week, or next year?
• Take a deep breath, go for a walk, or go do something different for a few minutes and try to put your disappointment into perspective.
Taking time to reflect and step away from the situation will help calm your thoughts and emotions so you’ll be better able to handle the disappointment.
3. Refuse to doubt yourself. Sometimes disappointment can make you feel like a failure. You may wonder why these things happen to you or you may think you were stupid to get your hopes up in the first place. But none of that is the truth. Don’t allow yourself to give in to these negative thoughts!
• Disappointment is not unique to you.
Everyone has been disappointed at some time in their life. Instead of putting yourself down, think about what could have been done differently and learn from the experience.
4. Look for a solution or compromise. Things may not always turn out as you hope, but often there is another option or a different way of looking at things.
• Take a few deep breaths, relax, and look for the silver lining.
It’s possible to find something positive in almost every situation.
5. Re-evaluate and make changes if necessary. Sometimes when we experience disappointments, it may be a sign that we need to re-examine our priorities or expectations. Depending on the degree of disappointment you’re facing, you may need to make minor or major changes to your life.
• Learn to be flexible.
Refocusing your attention on your new goals and on what is really important to you will help you manage or avoid future disappointments.
Above all, don’t become discouraged and don’t give up.
All successful people have had to learn to deal with setbacks and disappointments somewhere along their journey. However rather than giving up, they learn from their failures and disappointments; and go on to achieve their goals.
You must not allow disappointment to lower your self-confidence. That’s not to say that you need to gloss over your feelings, but learning how to deal with your disappointments effectively will allow you to learn and grow, and then you will be better placed to move on to bigger and better things.
When you struggle to let go of someone, there can be sustained periods of rumination and in essence, stewing in what you feel is a rejection of you. If there’s been a series of disappointments, you’ve likely lost sight of you and your values, which means you don’t have the perspective that’s so needed to handle and manage the inevitable disappointments that arise in life.
Whether it’s for a date that didn’t happen, dates that didn’t progress, feelings that weren’t reciprocated, your relationship not working out, or even discovering that someone isn’t what you thought they were, you become fixated on this person (or even a series of people that you thought were “it”) fulfilling your hopes and dreams.
By focusing on the person instead of on the bigger picture of your hopes and expectations, you lose hope because the disappointment leaves you feeling like there’s no point in bothering and your ‘last chance saloon’ has gone.
This person isn’t the only way that you could have your hopes and expectations for a relationship fulfilled though, plus just because they don’t or didn’t fulfil them, doesn’t mean any and all hopes for a relationship are over.
When you struggle to get over the disappointment, it’s because you were over-invested in the potential, ‘vision’, and ultimately the hopes, plans, and outcome that you had set your mind and heart on.
If you’ve been invested in various people and the hopes and expectations you had for a relationship have to adjust due to practical factors, the disappointment is natural and to be expected, but you have to work your way through these feelings to acceptance so that you can create new hopes and expectations.
To continue to immerse yourself in disappointment like a vocation, raking over your past and ruminating on all of the things you ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda done if only’, creates self-rejection and ultimately regret, because as time passes and your outlook and what you’re doing hasn’t changed, that’s what you’ll come to regret – not the various things you’ve been through that brought you to this juncture but the stubbornness you used to lash yourself with and stop you from moving forward.
The disappointment, regret, and rejection is tied up in the idea that what you hope and want in your life is gone and over.
What do you want? This is where your focus should be – on the bigger picture of your values so that you can focus your actions on living congruently with them, not on a person outside of your control. Your purpose in life isn’t to have someone rescue you and make your life ‘better’ – if it doesn’t work out, it’s like returning to the life you didn’t want.
Wherever there’s disappointment and a sense of feeling rejected, you can be assured that there are illusions, giving you an inaccurate, if not downright distorted view of reality. It’s letting go of these that give you the much needed perspective and freedom.
What are you stuck on? List them all, don’t hold back. What is it about this disappointment that you keep returning to?
You wouldn’t be disappointed if what you claim things ‘should’ be was real because you’d be living it.
Walk your way through the relationship and work out where you got the illusions from.
Where did it start?
- Did they say or do something? Did you?
- What specific thoughts have you had that led you to this idea?
- The things that you believed them to be, why did you believe it? Was it based on evidence? Was it brief? Was it based on ideas that you carried into the relationship that may be based on someone else they remind you of or unhealthy/unrealistic beliefs? List examples and the longer you were together, the more you should see of this.
What is the cause of the actual disappointment?
So for example, when someone doesn’t follow through with a date, is it because:
- You’re disappointed because you misjudged them?
- They seemed so nice and you were looking forward to it?
- You hoped that this might be ‘it’ and you could be ‘done’ with dating?
- You’re disappointed because you assume that you must have said or done something to put them off?
- You compromised yourself and it still didn’t pay off?
- You banked on this being the one that would make all of the previous heartache worthwhile and right the wrongs of the past?
For a relationship, it might be that you’re shouldering all of the blame for it not working out, so yeah, you’re bound to be disappointed, just unnecessarily so.
Taking a bigger picture view, this person cannot meet your expectations. They haven’t – it’s why you’re disappointed. They haven’t – that’s about them, not you. Don’t make everything about you – it will compound your hurt.
The facts say that they cannot meet your expectations – it’s holding onto the illusions that they can or could have if only X/Y/Z had happened, which normally boils down to, if you had changed, if you hadn’t breathed or put a foot wrong, if you had got them to change, or if you lived in a fantasy world, that’s disappointing you.
Let me say it again – it’s holding onto the illusions that they can or could have fulfilled your hopes and expectations and that your projected future could, would and should have happened, that’s disappointing you. The tighter you hold on, the more you revisit it – it’s like experiencing the disappointment over and over and over again. It gets even worse if you continue to lie to yourself about them while in the meantime, they behave like a jackass in the present completely contradicting you anyway.
Disappointment and rejection paves the way to new and ultimately better opportunities, if you don’t spend months or even years avoiding admitting a mistake or accepting that it’s over. The length and depth of the avoidance is what causes a ‘setback’.
You can release and grow if you make the connection between relationship insanity – carrying the same baggage, beliefs, and behaviors while choosing same type, different person (or variations of your type), and then expecting a different result – and disappointment.
Relationships serve to teach us about ourselves – the same lessons will keep coming back at you like Michael Myers in Halloween until you heed and learn from them.
Persisting in relationship insanity, means you’ll continue to be disappointed.
Even if you do the whole long shot mentality thing and go with the safe option of unavailable relationships so you can avoid ‘rejection rejection’, you will be disappointed even though it’s ‘expected’.
Your life and your repetitive choices are telling you that you need to adapt your thinking and your habits in order to start fulfilling your hopes and expectations for your life.
Lessen disappointment by living in line with your values so that you can be authentic. You will compound the disappointment if you deviate from them due to the attachment to the idea of this particular person being the ‘key’ to your life – you figure it’ll be worth the risk and then feel embarrassed or even ashamed when it’s not.
If you stay on a Bullshit Diet, it also means that you don’t hear what you want to hear, see what you want to see, and create meaning where there is none. You’ll communicate your expectations, thoughts and concerns – some people don’t do this for fear of disappointment. Then they get disappointed anyway and wish they’d spoken up.
Don’t try to be a perfectionist or the exception to the rule of shady behaviour – these create unrealistic goals while giving you a realistic but unwanted outcome; pain.
Like conflict, fear, and rejection, disappointment is unavoidable but you don’t have to let it claim you and you certainly shouldn’t use it to make judgement’s about yourself that leave you with eroded self-esteem. Let the disappointment go – forgive you and be kind to you because aside from nurturing you, it means you won’t disappoint you by not being on your side.
Dealing With Disappointment – Constructively.
– Put yourself in a clearer mental state.
Whenever you experience disappointment, you are pulled down into a lower state of consciousness, where your thoughts are predominantly rooted in fear, sadness, grief or even apathy. There may be times when the feeling of disappointment is so overwhelming that it feels like the end of the world.
Being trapped in such a state it prevents you from thinking logically and clearly. When dealing with disappointment, your first focus should be to bring your consciousness up to a more neutral or positive level such as desire, neutrality, willingness and reason so that you are in a better position to react to your situation.
Look for positive activities where you can recharge yourself. What activities do you most enjoy doing in your life? Identify them. It can be writing in your personal journal, playing games, walking in the park, watching a happy movie or talking to positive friends. If you find that reading your favorite book uplifts you, then pick up the book and start reading it. If taking a stroll along your neighborhood makes you more relaxed, then get out of your house and enjoy the breeze outside. If playing games can make you feel happier, go ahead and play them. Do whatever makes you feel better. Sometimes, simply spending time alone might be the best way for you to clear out your mental clutter and regain personal energy.
For me, I find that a combination of activities including alone time, talking with my good friends, watching my favorite shows, reading novels and dancing help to lift me up considerably. I absolutely love dancing; whenever I am playing them I get a lot of exhilaration and fun out of the exercise. In times when I feel really down, I would rather prefer spending time by myself. This alone time allows me sort out the thoughts in my mind, think without external interference’s and gain clarity on what to do in my situation. Talking with my friends, on the other hand, makes me privy to other perspectives and thoughts which I may not be aware of in the beginning.
– Attach with your desires, not your goals.
When you are disappointed, your source of disappointment is rooted in your over-attachment to a certain outcome. When an outcome does not manifest the way you envisioned, you become disappointed. This is a perfectly natural response. However, understand that your expectations in the outcome, or goals, is a reflection or external projection of an underlying desire you have. They might or might not be accurate projections, because they are merely subjective interpretations of what you think is needed to live up to your underlying desire.
For example, let’s say you went for an interview with Company A. You love the job scope, the benefits package is great, you have heard rave reviews about the place. All in all, you see a career at Company A as the equivalent of your dream career. However, you are passed over for another candidate whom they deemed as a better fit for the role. Company A happens to have a policy of only accepting applications from the same candidate once every 2 years. There is no way you can try until 2 years later. What should you do from here?
The second step toward dealing with disappointment requires you to attach yourself to the desires behind your desires, not your goals. Start off by recognizing that a job in Company A is just a projection of your inner desires. Your inner desire may be to get a career which challenges and stretches you in a dynamic working environment. If there’s the case, there are many ways you can do that, such as working in Company G, Company X, or even setting up your own business. Working at Company A is just one of the many ways which you can achieve that.
A common example where people tie themselves too much to their external projections of their desires is in relationships. For example, you like person A. You want to be together with him/her, but the person A does not reciprocate the feelings. While you may feel disappointed, stop and think – What are your underlying intents? It is to be in a loving, authentic relationship with someone. Person A is just one of the many people in this world who can make you feel love. He/she is not going to be only person you are capable of loving; there are many other people out there whom you will love as well. Instead of tying all your expectations to this one person, link yourself with the underlying desire to find real, authentic love.
Ask yourself this question: What are your actual desires that are driving your expectations? Understand what they are and list them down. Say you are at point A and you want to move to point B. When you link yourself with these desires, you will realize that point B is just one of the many destinations you can go to. There are many other possible destinations, such as point C, D, E.. all the way to Z, then there’s even A-1, A-2.. and so on, where you can achieve your desires just as well, if not better. Attach yourself to your desires, not your interpretations of what will achieve your desires.
– Release yourself of your mental illusion.
The next step in dealing with your disappointment is to release yourself of your mental illusions of what reality should be. Many people remain in a disappointed state because they are hung up over their expectations of what reality should be. If you are disappointed over something, you are harboring certain perceptions of what it should be. These perceptions are not the reality; they are figments in your mind which are untrue. If they are true, why are they causing you disappointment?
These mental illusions are dis-empowering because they keep you caught in the negative state you are in. As long as you are trapped in them, it prevents you from progressing toward where you want to go. Dealing with disappointment requires you to let yourself go of the mental illusions.
When you are disappointed, ask yourself this – what is it that I am getting hung up over? What false perceptions am I still clinging myself on with? What am I expecting from the reality that it is not giving me? Seek these illusions out, one by one. Question yourself how and when you came to have the illusions. Become aware of them and release yourself from them. These illusions are giving you an inaccurate view of reality. They are preventing you from acting constructively on your situation or living your life the way you should.
If we look at the same relationship example from above, you are disappointed in the situation because you wanted to be with person A. You feel that you have lost what could have been a great relationship. However, that is actually just an illusion in your mind that you are playing in your head. If person A does not want to be with you for whichever reasons, he/she is not going to be the person who can achieve your desire for a relationship. He/she is not going to be the person who can give you want you desire. Your belief that he/she is the one for you is actually an illusion that you need to release yourself of.
– Understand the outcome is not a setback.
Disappointments are good is because it represents an opportunity for growth. Many people become disappointed with occurrences because they view that as a setback or a failure vs what they want to achieve. They feel like they have taken a step back from what they have come to acknowledge or expect.
For example, say you did a lot of preparation and late night studying for your exams. You had the belief that these actions, along with what you knew about your reality, would result in you getting high flying results. However, instead of achieving that outcome, you fell short of your expectations.
While you may be feeling disappointed, this experience is actually showing you that there is a misconception in your thinking. What you originally thought is sufficient to achieve your outcome actually isn’t. Instead, you may need to increase your resources or change your approach to achieve the results you want. Your disappointment is actually helping you to move toward your goals, not away from it as you originally thought.
Your experience has resulted in you obtaining new lessons, whether about yourself, the situation or even the world. You have gained something which nobody else is privy to. How can an outcome be a setback if it gave you something new to learn about? As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” With this new learning, you walk away from previous experience as a better person. You will become a stronger individual. You reach a whole new level of awareness, consciousness and growth which you never had before.
– Moving Forward: Focus on doing the best you can.
Dealing with disappointment is definitely not an easy task, but if you work hard at the steps mentioned above, it will eventually help to pull you out of the void state you are in. As you start living past your disappointments, focus on living in fullest alignment with your desires, instead of your goals. Continue to have goals. Let them drive you forward. However, take note not to attach yourself with these goals. When you do that, you start to fall into the trap of associating your existence with them. This is not sustainable because those goals are just external outcomes which are impermanent.
I have a good friend who once said to me – “Life is not just about reaching the goals; it’s about living it to the fullest.” And he is right. In every situation you are in, choose the action which lets you live in alignment with your inner desires the most, within your abilities, within your situational contexts. As long as you are doing that, there is no reason why you should feel down or bad, because you have done all that you can. When you start doing that, you will find that you are able to live consciously and freely instead of subjecting yourself to outcomes. You are able to constructively channel the passion of your inner desires to live the kind of life you want.