Disappointment, whether to avoid or defy it, weighs heavily in the orientation of human behaviour. It is directly related to the way we judge ourself or others or that we believe the others are judging us. Learning the power of disappointment begins at an early age, at the same time as we discover what pleases and displeases our parents, school, or society. It is a learning that shapes us throughout our lives at the same time as it cultivates our contradictions, our deepest guilt. Everyone constantly navigates between the desire to be in the norm and the desire to differentiate themselves, the desire to do well as is expected, and the desire simply to do as one feels. In other words, we are always balancing between the desire to be well seen, beloved, loved by our parents, teachers, bosses and others in general, and the desire to be oneself, even if it displeases.
But whether I am disappointing others, or am disappointed by them, or by myself, disappointment is always accompanied by unpleasant feelings. So we soon wanted either to deviate from any event that might cause us to feel this unpleasant experience or on the other hand we may try to do our best to crush or fight against the negative sensations that could invade us whereas we simply seek to try to be ourself, despite the prevailing disagreement. This can lead to two extreme behaviours, adapt as best as possible to the norm even if it means crushing certain basic needs that one will not dare to live or only in secret, or force provocation by claiming by one’s behaviours that one has nothing to give a shit about what others think, even if it means being in a perpetual struggle to be yourself. Between these two cases lies the common mortals, always looking for the right balance with, as the main cursor, the feeling of guilt that puts in those unpleasant sensations in our body. To be or not to be, to be loved or not to be loved, to disappoint or not disappoint, that is the main question!
Those who manage kindly to realize themselves as they are, and not as one would want them to be, are precisely those who best manage to accept and explore the inescapable disappointments of life without the need to hide or the need to hyper affirm themselves in order to exist. In fact, they also have inevitably accepted and learn to go throw their different levels of guilt and therefore all their internal contradictions. So my point here is mostly to talk about the need to accept and travel not against, but with and trough the disappointment, your own disappointment or that of others, when we do, when we want to do, or have done, something that seems right to us in relation to true profound information that comes from inside of us. This inner information is also what we call the guts or even intuition, the little voice whose listening makes us move ever more towards our true self.
Disappointment and self-realization
Because to disappoint, is also helping to grow up a little more each time… Indeed, if the disappointment stems from the discrepancy between what our little inner voice says and the way it will be judged in the context of the perception of others, it is essential to accept this disappointment and cross it to leave room little by little, and more and more often, to self-acceptance. This is maybe more necessary when this judging gaze is so integrated into us that it has become ours, and our little inner voice then faces directly our own self-judgment about ourselves. In a way, the small voice of intuition, our gut’s voice, meets the big and often invasive, voice of the mind. This can then trigger a real civil war between the Me and the Self. The Me summarizes, for our example, the result of what we call our identity has it has been built having integrated a certain framework of cultural, social, religious representations (etc.) that defines morally what is good or bad, what is right or wrong. This is the main frame which makes us judge our own values or the values of others. In another hand, the Self would be an intuitional, bodily intricate information, manifested in the body and anchored in something much larger and much closer to a more intuitive rightness (right because coming from the truth inside of us and therefore not mentally constructed by values..). And so the Self often disagrees with the frames of thought already there and that surround us and shape us from birth.
So what is right in oneself is not necessarily in accordance with what is considered normal, acceptable, or valuable by the Me. And when the Me enters into a struggle with the Self there is then a contradiction between my induced and instilled values (to which I can consciously feel that I adhere or not…) and this profound intuition that defies pre-established values. This means that even if I do something profoundly right in self, I can disappoint others, and/or disappoint myself. In short, whether the Me I confront is that of the group (of others), or of myself, it is never anything but the Me that is disappointed. Of course the more one identifies and adheres without hindsight with this Me, (the Me who thinks what I think I am or what I think I should be), and the more vivid the contradiction is going to be and the experience of disappointment will be difficult when the intuition of a much more fundamental truth of the Self comes to show the tip of his nose.
This conception of disappointment leads to an overall reassessment of the phenomenon. It is a question of no longer considering disappointment as the logical consequence of the fact that I have not been up to the task or that the other has not been up to the task, (therefore suddenly I have to pay, I am to be punished and that is normal because I was bad). On the contrary, it is a signal in the body, which draws our attention to a latent conflict between the Me and the Self. That is to say on the one hand between what I believe, what I think should be, what people want me to be, and on the other hand what is imposing itself to me (often against my will, against my thinking) as the fair and intuitive truth of what I feel more deeply (about myself, about my relationship with the other, on my real connection to this job, etc…) even though I wasn’t ready to face this truth. The violence of disappointment is greater as the Me seeks to maintain control over what I believe or I am used to believe, on how things should be, how they should happen, how the couple should function, what love is, how it is normal for me to behave or how it would be normal for the other to behave. If I encounter disappointment in a regular manner without being able to extract myself from it, then it is time to consider repetition as an attempt of your unconscious to open your eyes to question the frame of thought that makes you suffer and also is it time for you to open up a little more to this deeper intuition that awaits you to pay more attention to it.
To get out of the disappointment then means agreeing first to go back in it and explore it for what it is, an opportunity for profound questioning. And here, my proposal is always the same, the exploration must be done in a sensory way and not in a mental way. Or rather, in the process I propose, the mind must lose its status as a boss who decides and controls, for that of a simple tool in the service of information distilled by the body at the time of disappointment. The words of the mind should no longer be used to interpret but only to describe the sensory state that one goes through. Even if at first it may seem difficult for some, describing what one feels and not what one thinks, forces us to pay attention to the Self and no longer to the endless loops of mental neurotic procrastinations that attach only to the Me. However, the more time one spends paying attention to the information of the Self in the body, the more one brings the attentional gentleness that is the only remedy for the emotional violence that one is going through. And the more we take this time of description of what is going on in the body, the more the description refines and becomes evolutionary. Then we may find that we can rediscover internal levels of benevolence and then self-healing properties simply because we have again developed an unconditional form of self-loving listening, even when initially it does mean to listen a high level of violence, conflict and internal disorganization.
NB: Warning, I am not saying here that we must disappoint in order to disappoint at all costs, I say that disappointing and being disappointed are inevitable phenomena and that they are a constituent part of human construction. Exploring disappointment by accepting to feel and live it, potentially allows humans to grow and evolve into a better version of themselves. This, by allowing the reworking of all our expectations, representations and thought-forms that try to format the real not as it is, but as we believe it should be. To re-phrase it in another way (for this is the main message of this text), disappointment operates whenever the true nature of reality, of the other or of our deep self, clearly shows that they are not assimilated to our expectations and to all our conscious or unconscious mental representations that we believe it should logically obey. Therefore, if accompanied and accepted, disappointment can open us to a world of possibility much larger and enriching than the limited and limiting mental representation of ourselves, of others, and of reality, in which we did not know yet we were imprisoned…