Jay Rifenbary

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Disappointed? - Always Carry On

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Why is there disappointment? I am constantly baffled thinking I understand the reality in front of me only to have that understanding be completely incorrect, resulting in disappointment. To work hard with the belief you are doing the right thing, for the right reasons, to reach the right outcome only to have all that effort shattered by the unexpected is ultimate disappointment. Disappointment is defined as, “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.” Disappointment is part of the life experience, but how you handle it is a test of your strength of character and the core values you believe in. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

It is also an expectation of what you believe should be, rather than an acceptance of what is, that prolongs the aftermath of being disappointed. I have learned over the years that not everyone is like me, as everyone is not like you. It is your expectations projected on others that enhance the level of disappointment when experienced.

The most challenging disappointments are those that involve family and friends. They are the closest relationships and therefore you take greater interest in your expectations of them. You believe you know what is in their best interest for future success and yet, it may not be reflective of who they are or their desires in life. The greater the vested interest, and the greater the expectation you have of others, the greater the disappointment when your expectations do not come to fruition. You are limited in what you can control both personally and professionally, and that understanding is critical to moving forward from disappointment. Disappointment should not lead to regret or self-doubt if your efforts relating to your expectations are honest, sincere and genuine.

To be disappointed is also an opportunity to become a stronger, more understanding and wiser person. As Henry David Thoreau said, “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” Every disappointment contributes to your character development each time you decide to persevere and carry on. Your level of resiliency to carry on stems from the belief and implementation of the core values that structure your character. If personal accountability is a core value of yours and you take ownership for how you react to a disappointing situation, the more likely you are to carry on. If forgiveness is a core value of yours, and you apply forgiveness to a situation or a person who has disappointed you, the more likely you are to carry on. What core values do you apply when you are disappointed? Honesty, humility, empathy, attitude, self-discipline, respect, thoughtfulness, compassion and fortitude are a sampling of core values that lessen the impact of disappointment. Life is not what you are given, but more importantly how you handle the experiences of your everyday life.

Seven steps to coping with disappointment include, * Take a deep breath and compose yourself emotionally, to better prepare yourself to examine the disappointment analytically. * Do not blame yourself or others before you do your due diligence to find the root cause of the disappointment. * Be objective in your analysis and avoid projecting your own potential self-centered expectations. * Incorporate a degree of empathy, forgiveness and compassion for your own disappointments, and those who have disappointed you. Life is too short to hang on to grudges and bitterness. * Be more accepting of what is in the present, rather than dwelling on how the disappointment will impact your future. * Be optimistic about tomorrow for your behaviors will follow your attitude. * Believe in yourself, your talents and your core values for those provide the confidence to carry on. Disappointments are unavoidable for they are part of life, and it is a personal decision to use them as excuses for misery, or to learn and grow from them for future happiness and a greater sense of purpose. As Thomas Jefferson said, “If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off.”



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