Ep #23: Disappointment & Unmet Expectations

A few weeks back, I had a complete meltdown over a 9-foot couch! Long story short, my “perfect” couch was sold to somebody else just hours before I intended to pick it up in store. And it was the last one in stock as it was being discontinued. Disappointed over a couch…can you even believe that?

Most likely, you can! Because we’re all guilty of attaching our happiness onto some external thing time and time again– whether that be another person, a job opportunity or even a 9 foot couch. We think, “I have to have XYZ, THEN I can be happy. If XYZ doesn’t happen, I’ll fall apart.” This dependency on something external leaves us completely powerless over our emotional well-being. So here’s the question: Is there ANY benefit to setting expectations? Today, I take a closer look!

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • What disappointment looks like and feels like!
  • Why I had a complete meltdown over a 9-foot couch
  • How to prevent future disappointment altogether
  • Setting expectations versus setting intentions (the BIG difference)
  • How to move through the feeling of disappointment as quickly as possible

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TRANSCRIPT

Welcome back everybody. Thanks so much for being here as always. I come to you today (in full creation mode) at 7:40AM, in my neon pink robe, with my cup of coffee in a mug that reads “JOY,” and  listening to my iTunes playlist titled “soft rock/ working.”

It’s supposed to be a gorgeous day on this Monday, so my goal is to work now, and give myself permission to play later at the beach. Sounds about right to me.

Today, I am talking about disappointment and unmet expectations. Just a few weeks ago, I was feeling all kinds of disappointed when a couch that I had fell in love with was sold to somebody else, just hours before I intended to pick it up in store. Unfortunately, it was the last one in stock as it was being discontinued. Disappointed over a couch, can you even believe that?

Well, I’m willing to bet that you can. Because we can all be guilty of attaching our happiness onto some external thing– whether that be another person, a job opportunity or even a 9 foot couch.

Today, I want to take a magnifying glass to this feeling– what it looks like, feels like, why it happens, how to move through it and how to prevent it from happening altogether.

So let’s get started. First, what is disappointment? Disappointment is a feeling we feel in the form of sadness or displeasure. And it’s caused by the unfulfillment of our hopes and expectations.

It’s basically our 5-year old self having a temper tantrum because our mom didn’t buy us that lollipop that we wanted– the lollipop that (in our mind) we had to have in order to be happy. Our 5-year old self is reliant on both our mom and the lollipop for our personal satisfaction.

Our dependency on something outside of ourselves for our emotional well-being stems from our childhood! It’s emotional immaturity. And so many of us, move into our adult life, still operating from this emotional immature place from time to time.

We see it a lot in relationships.

If the guy I’m dating calls me today, I’ll feel happy. If he doesn’t call me today, I’ll feel sad. If my boyfriend buys me flowers for valentine’s day, I’ll feel great. If my boyfriend doesn’t buy me flowers, I’ll feel disappointed.

The problem with this is that we can never ever control somebody else. So placing the responsibility onto somebody else for how we feel by placing these expectations on how somebody else should behave can take a very heavy toll on the relationship itself. And the same way that we can’t control other people and how they think, feel or behave is the same way that we can’t control things like natural disasters or the weather. But again, so many of us still place these expectations on the uncontrollable.

For example…

If it rains on my wedding day, I’ll be so disappointed. If it’s sunny, I’ll be relieved and happy.

This reliance leaves us powerless over our emotional state– one that we are very well responsible for and very much in control of 100% of the time– based on how we CHOOSE to think about the circumstance– people, places or things– no matter what the FACTS are.

The rain itself (the fact that it’s raining) on my wedding day isn’t causing my distress and disappointment.

Some other bride in the venue a few blocks down, is 100% fine with it. Why? Because her thinking about the rain (which our thinking and how we perceive the facts is in our control) looks much different from our own. She’s thinking, “Rain on your wedding day is really good luck. This is so romantic. It’ll make for some cool, unique photos.” While you’re thinking, “This is terrible. My dress is going to be ruined. My hair will be frizzy. This is a disaster.”

Right? Same circumstance. Different thinking. Different feelings. One person is feeling happy. Another person is feeling disappointed.

And this is what’s so WRONG with setting expectations. When we set an expectation, we’re basically saying, “I hope this happens, I expect this to happen, I want this to happen, and if it doesn’t happen THEN I’m going to be disappointed.”

It’s a very dangerous headspace to be in. Because you’re rolling the dice. You’re sitting back and just waiting to see how you’re going to feel based on what happens outside of you.

What’s this person going to do? Will I get this job offer? Will it be sunny? Will they accept my offer on the house?

So you sit back and hope that this person will come through in the way you’ve imagined. You hope that you will get the job offer. You hope it’ll be sunny. You hope they’ll accept your offer.

You hope for things to happen that are out of your control.

Now, it is possible to HOPE for something without being attached to it. Like…I hope my boyfriend does something romantic for my birthday, but if he doesn’t, it’s not a big deal. I’m still going to love on him and have an awesome day. I hope that it doesn’t rain today, but if it does, oh well! We’ll just roll with the punches.

Hoping while detaching from the outcome is possible. And that’s where setting intentions come in, which I’ll talk about in just a second.

But first, you want to pay attention to when you ARE attaching yourself to an outcome– that may or may not even happen!

Are you setting yourself up for disappointment by setting up an expectation?

More and more, I’m seeing less and less value (if any) in setting expectations. I’m seriously like, “What’s the point?” Is there a point? Because I’m not sure there is.”

There’s definitely no point in setting expectations around other people, places or things that are out of our control.

Sure, sometimes our expectations will pan out. But sometimes (a lot of the time), they won’t. And I don’t know about you, but I want to be in charge of my own happiness, NOT sit back and let outside influences tell me how I’m going to feel.

Fingers crossed. That’s the phrase that comes to mind when I think about expectations. Fingers crossed it will be sunny. Fingers crossed my boyfriend starts showing me more affection. Fingers crossed I get offered that job.

Because if not, watch out world!

So more and more, I’m doing away with expectations and instead setting more and more intentions. Because although expectation and intention may sound similar, they’re so different.

Here’s the difference!

With an expectation, our feeling state is dependent on something out of our control. I hope this happens, I expect this to happen and if it doesn’t, THEN I’m going to be disappointed.

While an intention, our feeling state remains in our control 100% of the time. It is an action or fact of intending to do something or feel something, no matter what!!

No matter how the weather turns out, it’s going to be the best day of my life.

I intend to feel and act loving toward my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day no matter what he chooses to do or not do.

Do you see and feel the power behind an intention? More importantly, the sense of ownership behind it?

When we INTEND to feel a certain way (happy, satisfied, loving, whatever)…when something happens outside of us– no matter what events occur, no matter what the facts are– we still feel happy, satisfied, loving, whatever. We remain in control of our emotional state.

That’s the beauty of setting intentions. It allows us to stay in our own business– the only area we can ever control. And it releases all this pressure on to other people, places or things– on how we think they should be for us.

Make sense?

When Nathan and I were at the furniture store, one of the salespeople let us know that we could only put a 24-hour hold on furniture and that it must be arranged to be picked up 24 hours after making the payment. And because of our moving date and then of course finding somebody with a truck to pick up and then deliver, there was a 48-hour gap in between the date we could place that hold, and ultimately claim the couch as our own. So we knew that there was a chance (in my mind a very small chance) that somebody else might snatch it in that 48 hour window.

But we were prepared to take that risk and really had no choice because our circumstances didn’t allow otherwise. So we were sitting on this couch, and Nathan said to me, “OK, are you going to be upset if it falls through?” And I responded, “Nope, nope, nope. We really don’t have another choice. If it doesn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be.” And he said, “OK.”

Cut to 2 days later, I call the store to place the hold, and I find out that the couch  was sold the night prior. I call Nathan, crying and feeling so disappointed over this dang couch. And he said, “Babe, we talked about this. You knew there was a chance we might not get it and you said you’d be OK.”

And again, I know this is a ridiculous example, but clearly I had attached more of myself to this silly couch, than I had admitted to at the time.

So a few hours or so later, I was driving in my car, feeling sorry for myself and all sorts of disappointed when I realized…OK Shaina, here’s you doing that thing you do from time to time– when you create a vision, you hang on to this vision so tightly, that if/ when it doesn’t pan out as you imagine it to, you get upset.

So the first step is awareness. Always! Recognizing when you’re feeling disappointed. And that’s what I did. OK, I’m feeling disappointed. Why am I feeling this way? What thoughts are causing me to feel this way?

Because at a glance, if you’re swimming in the pool of emotional immaturity OR you’re not familiar with these concepts, you may believe that the problem is the couch. You may believe that the problem is the NOT getting of the couch and that’s the reason you feel bad. And if we can just find some way to change the circumstance and get the couch, our disappointment may go away.

And in a sense, because you’ve been telling yourself, I’ll feel happy if this thing happens, it may very well be a short-term fix when/ if you get the couch.

But the TRUTH is, the problem is not the couch– or the getting or not getting of couch. The problem is actually our thinking, our attachment and expectation of the couch.

I need this couch. I want this couch. I expect to get this couch. Because it’s the only couch that will look good in our space. I will never find another couch like this one.

Like these are actually the thoughts that were running in my head– the THOUGHTS that were causing me to feel disappointed. Right?

Because somebody else who may have called that same morning to find out if the couch had been sold, felt 100% fine about it. They were thinking, “Ah OK. It wasn’t meant to be. No big deal.” Or some similar thought that created a feeling of indifference. That person approached the situation with an intention. If I get the couch, great, if not, I’m still going to feel great.

OK? So as silly as this example is, it really got me thinking about disappointment and this trap that a lot of us can get can caught in.

Like I mentioned earlier, the best and most effective way to avoid it is to stray away from expectations altogether and lean into setting intentions instead. By doing so, it shifts the control from things outside of you (that are ultimately never in your control in the first place) and back to YOU! It removes all the blame and all the dependency.

But if you’re smack dab in the middle of disappointment, the first thing you want to do is…

Grieve, if necessary. Let it out. Throw the temper tantrum that the 5-year old throws– kick and scream if you must. However, this does not mean to take it out on somebody else. This means sitting with your own sadness! Because remember this is self-inflicted pain.

We cause our own feelings by how we choose to think about the facts.

So if you want to feel sorry for yourself, like I did, just know that you’re responsible for it. I knew that it wasn’t Nathan’s fault, the salesperson’s fault or even the people who purchased the couch’s fault. There was no blame to go around. I was simply disappointed because I placed such a big expectation onto something that was out of my control. Point blank. So I cried and sulked for a few hours and then I…

Opened myself up to the Universe.

Whether you’re able to accept it initially or not, there IS a reason your expectation was not fulfilled. There’s a reason you didn’t get that job or that house. There’s a reason your boyfriend is exactly who he is and didn’t do as you hoped.

You may not know what that reason is right now. In fact, you may not know what that reason is for a few days, weeks, months or even years. But, that’s OK. Because it’s not your job to know right now. Your job is to just drop away from your own agenda and what you think is best, in order to open yourself up to the lesson and/ or something else (something better) that’s in store for you.

Think back to a time in your life that you wanted so badly for something to play out and it didn’t. And you felt so disappointed! And then at some point down the road, you looked back and thought, “Phew, I am SO glad that didn’t “work out.” Thank god!”

If it’s some sort of lost “opportunity,” use a mantra to feel more at ease and comforted. Something like “It wasn’t meant to be” or “There’s something better for me around the corner.” A gentle reminder that you’re OK. It’s OK. And everything will be OK.

And lastly, if your disappointment is attached to another person– how somebody else is behaving, that is something to absolutely explore and be curious about.

Why do you think somebody else has the power to make you feel a certain way? What do you make it mean when they don’t behave a certain way? When someone wants YOU to behave a certain way so they can feel better, what is that like for you?

We have a hard enough time managing our own emotional well-being…nobody wants the job of managing yours. But that topic is for an entirely other episode.

I hope you enjoyed this show. Thank you so much for listening as always. I’ll see you next time, BYE!

 

 

 

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