I was once told that 90 percent of all disappointment is the result of unrealistic expectation.
Think about that for a moment; it makes sense, doesn't it? Consider a recent disappointment. Was it one of the rare occurrences when something truly out of the ordinary happened? Or, were you hoping for something, envisioning some perfect scenario, and reality came swooping in to bitchslap you back to the everyday?
I can honestly say that for me, most of the time my disappointment is my own fault.
So it becomes a game of managing expectations. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst, as they say. I'm not one to adopt a defeatist attitude; no, never! But let's take a recent race as an example. In the sprint tri last weekend, I didn't have any hard and fast goals. I just wanted to finish happy, do my best, and perhaps do better than I did in the same race the previous year. I had followed my training plan at about 75 percent, so I knew there was an excellent chance I would reach my goals.
My expectations were realistic.
Now, if I'd said I wanted to come in under two hours - which I secretly did, but I knew I hadn't trained at that level - I would have been disappointed. But that's not the headspace I occupied. I kept myself rooted in reality.
Consider, too, when it isn't you who disappoints you, but someone else. When people disappoint us, it often hurts more, because we are completely unable to control what's happening around us. We can only manage our feelings, our expectations. So a friend fails to meet my expectations by being exactly who she is ... who she's always been. Sure, she's still an asshole (and - here's the hard lesson - probably not really a friend) but my disappointment has a lot more to do with my fervent hope that she'll behave in a way that's out of character than it does with who she is.
Who she is remains the same.
The trick is to love people where they are. I ask people to love me, train wreck and all. They can choose to do so, or not to, and that's really okay. (Unless you're my family; sorry, man, you're stuck.) If they choose to come along for the ride, they buy in to my occasional neediness, the short temper, the high expectations and the ... oh, what's the word? ... unrepentant quirkiness. (That's my nice way of saying "weird".) On the other hand, they also get unfailing support, real love straight from my heart, willingness to help out with just about anything (unless you need money or math tutoring) and acceptance. It's a pretty fair trade.
Sometimes, we're gonna disappoint people. Sometimes, we're gonna be disappointed. But if we can remember why we love people in the first place - if we're willing to love people as they are instead of how we wish they could be - I think we could go a long way toward tempering our disappointment.
And if not, my hope is that there's someone there to listen while we work through it.