When you feel let down…
I have recently been dealing with the feeling of being let down. They are extremely uncomfortable feelings to me which bring up a mixture of emotions – disappointment, rage, hurt, indignation and many others. My first reaction to it was to pretend to myself that the disappointment wasn’t too bad and my plan was to ignore it and hope that the feeling would go away. Of course it didn’t just disappear all by itself and I was getting impatient with myself for not getting over it quicker. In fact my mind seemed to want to rehearse the story all by itself in which of course I told myself over again that I would not ever behave in that same ungrateful and selfish way myself – oh no! I even had far fetched plans of becoming more of a hermit and keeping well out relationships all together so that I didn’t risk getting hurt again.
Another plan in the ignoring stakes was to try to distance gracefully, sort of slink into the shadows and avoid meeting the offender too much so that the feelings might subside quickly. The distancing, I recognised, was a passive aggressive act. I would be punishing the aggressor (however subtly I tried to convince myself I could do that) and two wrongs as we know, don’t make a right. I was being mean and it was a million miles away from my commitment in life to being generous and forgiving… Again, the plan was foiled as I silently brooded…
Now all this time I am realising that this isn’t the way a Yogini behaves if she wants to get back to feelings of peace and harmony! I thought that if ignoring the feelings doesn’t work then I would fully embrace them and try to fix the relationship so that it never happened again (this wasn’t the first time I had been let down by that same person). So a second plan – of confrontation – emerged… I was going to stand up for myself so that I would cease being the martyr and then I would be able to let things go…
In the rehearsal of the conversation in my mind I am outlining the record of wrongs and the person of course, in the fantasy, gets it straight away and bows down to my great knowledge of how to behave in the world. Well… the Yogini in me knew that wouldn’t really work and the listing of wrongs only served to increase the record further as a few past sins got added into the mix!!!! I knew also that love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs and my mental story telling was doing just that.
It felt strongly to me that my peace was taken from me by the action of another but I know as a psychologist that this can never be true as no one is responsible for my feelings but me. I needed to get off the blame game train and get centred and fast!
So plan 3 takes place and this is the plan that may work for you too in most situations in which you feel hurt and let down. Let me know in the comments box if you have experienced this process or have other ideas in dealing with disappointment:
1. Don’t try to push feelings away but give space them but avoid overly rehearsing the “story”. Instead, just own the feelings, rather than get into judgements of self or others… Since all anger is based on expectations not being met, take time to allow yourself to face that the expectations of the relationship haven’t been met.
Keep focused on the feelings of grief, not the other person’s behaviour. Don’t try and speed up the process and this will give yourself the message to yourself that you are worthy of feeling whatever you feel, without censorship. This is not the same as wallowing in disappointment since you are keeping the focus on yourself, not on the misdeeds of the other person. One of the quickest ways to slow down healing is to try to ignore feelings or push them down.
2. Get some perspective on the matter. Recognise that the person isn’t deliberately setting out to hurt and let go of the attachment that they “should” be another way.
Remember that you are sometimes a disappointment to others and that life is disappointing at times. But disappointment comes and goes, many times in life and “this too shall pass”. It is about accepting the reality of life. The person has made a poor choice in your view of things but it wasn’t their intention to cause harm.
3. Be committed to not allowing the hurt to take away your core values. My response of wanting to hide from the world to avoid hurt was not in line with my commitment to having an absolutely huge and generous heart! Remember that if you are committed to having an open and loving heart that this is done irrespective of the other’s behaviour toward you. Anyone can love when things are going all their own way. But real love is when you love, dispite being hurt. But only when you are ready (see 1).
4. It may not even be necessary to deal with all of this directly with the person. There may be ways of avoiding setting the person up for failure without cataloging their past wrongs to their face!!! For instance, if they are always falling short when they are drunk, plan non alcohol related activities. But if it really is necessary to share, then stick to the feelings over there with you, instead of listing their misdemeanours!
Here is a great poem by Jeff Foster from class this week…
The Peace That Cannot Be Destroyed
If your peace can be disturbed, it is not the kind of peace you truly long for. If it can be disturbed, it is just a second-hand image of peace, and not the real thing.
We say, “I was so peaceful, and then a wave of fear (or anger, or pain, or sadness…) came along and destroyed my peace!”
But is that really true? Can you ‘have’ peace and then ‘lose’ it? Can peace really be destroyed?
Really it’s the other way round, isn’t it? Fear didn’t destroy your peace, you destroyed fear’s peace. You denied fear’s right to peace by not allowing that energy to move freely in you.
Even fear just wants to come to rest, to express itself fully and come to rest, but we’re so busy trying to get rid of it, escape it, or numb ourselves to it – basically we’re trying to ‘do’ something with it, and this ‘doing’ is actually the end of our peace, not a path towards it.
Stop destroying fear’s peace and let it rest, poor thing – it is suffering from an ancient tiredness, having been wandering in the wilderness for billions of years. It just wants somewhere to lay its head.
Will you give fear the rest it longs for? Will you give fear a home? Will you let all of these poor orphan waves in life’s vast ocean – fear, sadness, anger, doubt, confusion – rest in peace, the peace that you are?
Being what you are – that’s a peace that cannot be destroyed.