Don’t you hate it when things don’t quite work out the way you hoped?
Disappointment happens. I happened to me this week. Nothing crushing, just a minor letdown. Things aren’t always as they appear. I’m a trusting optimist, so I often take things at face value and always expect things to work out for the best. Unfortunately, sometimes the way I want things to work out for the “best,” and what is realistically the “best” thing for me, can be two different things.
Of course, disappointments are just part of life. Some people think that having expectations of how things will work out is a big part of the problem. The thought is that happiness depends, not on how well things are going, but whether things are going better or worse than expected. This makes sense. When we have low expectations, it’s easier to feel happy about the crumbs we do get.
Alas, for me that just doesn’t work. I believe that we get what we ask for. If we have low expectations, that is exactly what we’ll get. Of course, what we hope for must be reasonable, but why not expect situations will be stellar and see what happens? Why give up hope? If these high expectations aren’t met, it might mean we have to be uncomfortable for a minute and consider what insights we’ve gained from the situation. Letting myself feel the discomfort that comes with disappointment this week, resulted in some big “ahas” for me.
The most interesting lesson I learned in my disappointment, was that I could have had things work out the way I hoped, if I was willing to compromise my ideals. It was an ethical dilemma. I had to consider the consequences of my actions and what decision my conscience would let me live with. When I was growing up, my mother taught me that our reputation is all that we have. At the time, I remember thinking, “Oh, Mom! What do you know?” But she did know. Actions speak louder than words, and our ethical decisions impact how people respect and trust us. This is a responsibility I take very seriously. I believe ethical decisions not only impact the respect we get from others, it makes a difference in how we respect ourselves.
But the biggest, and most surprising lessons I learned from my disappointment this week is that I deserve more than crumbs. Owning our power is the realization that we worthy of receiving what we want and need. It may not be exactly the same as we’ve envisioned, and it may take longer than we want, but that’s okay. We don’t have to settle for less, especially if it means forfeiting our values. Compromise is a good thing, unless it requires compromising ourselves; who we are at our core.
Loving ourselves more than anything or anyone else, is empowering and makes life happier. This isn’t easy for women. We’ve been socialized to be “people pleasers” and put everyone before ourselves. But, in learning to love ourselves, ethical decisions become more obvious and the discomfort of disappointment stings less, because we know we can count on the most important person in our life – ourself.