They stroll through life, hand in hand – disappointment and stress, stress and disappointment. Unmet expectations lead to misery, unfulfilled ambitions cause pain. This isn’t a given, it is a habitual pattern of humanity – one that can cause us to sit up and beg for change. It certainly causes a lot of uncomfortable feelings and outcomes. I can accept that uncomfortable feelings are the harbingers of growth, loud messengers from our inner selves that there is some part that needs attention. Our inner lives are a deep well!
Disappointment is the uncomfortable result of unmet expectations and unfulfilled attachments. It can be extremely painful and clearly has the power to cause enormous suffering, especially when the disappointment is connected to an important relationship or outcome. Disappointment can cause resentment, and its regular companion – anger. It’s easy to say that least some of the time things don’t turn out the way we want them to, and understanding a more compassionate way to meet this occurrence is one of the compelling reasons to engage in a life of inner growth and inquiry.
Acceptance is the flip side of disappointment. Continued acceptance is dependent on a sturdy foundation of open hearted, non-judgmental self love. It is a destination that isn’t found in travel magazines, or anywhere but within. As usual, recognition is the first big step towards releasing the uncomfortable mind traps that are the creators of a suffering. The greater the expectation the greater the disappointment when it is not met. Is it possible to live a life without expectations, hopes and dreams? I have experienced travel as a good training ground for shifting harmful expectation since the only way to be comfortable while traveling is to release expectation and confront the present moment. And facing this challenge necessarily brings a heaping glory of insight and clarity.
But life isn’t always happening in special situations and it is the everyday, the ordinary where many of the usual mind traps find fertile ground and take root. It’s time to learn how to celebrate all the everyday wonders with joy, with a fresh perspective and with a relaxed mind and open heart. Ahhhh it sounds so easy! And yet, at this time in history as we are in “lockdown”, where free movement around the world isn’t possible, what is another way to gain insight from our feelings? It’s possible that there is more disappointment and stress now than before the lockdown. We have been forcibly pressed to re-consider many things that were once taken for granted in life and re-orient as quickly as possible.
These times have generated a profound sense of stress for many. Stress is a direct result of the fear of disappointment. Stress is a foreshadowing of the emotional pain of disappointment, in fact it is a share of the disappointment already being felt. What is the antidote for this? Once again it points directly to relaxation, acceptance and bringing the complete self into the present moment. None of us can foretell the future – one of the reasons so many keep trying is that future-telling or “forecasting” cannot be verified, and there is a kind of relief in hearing what may be happening before it happens… but truly there is no way to accurately foretell the future. Just watch what happens when reassurance promises a good outcome. The mind relaxes, the emotional body relaxes and just assuming a good outcome changes the present moment into something less stressful. There you have it! Once again, recognizing the mind as the generator of emotion turns us within to put more energy and effort into teaching our mind what we want it to know. Deep breathing is so effective because it redirects our attention back to our body, to its momentary movements.
Here’s another quick and effective practice some years ago: to come more fully into the present moment, try to be aware of all 5 senses at the same time… just try…
Let me know how it goes!