On dissapointment as a gift

Thinking about disappointment this morning. How it can pack a punch sometimes, devouring the colors, turning everything gray. A big disappointment, or even one not so big but exquisitely timed, is ripe with choices. Perspective can make all the difference at a time like this.

There is a tendency to fall back on an older default setting. With attention, I can see the default setting. I can hear the thoughts about unworthiness, the emotions that rise as I tell myself the tale of the myriad ways I fall short and am not enough. Not good enough, lacking in some vital way, missing some important something everyone else seems to have. Unlovable. And on and on.

This setting no longer holds sway in my day-to-day experiences. I find I am disappointed less, that I am more attuned to experiencing life with curiosity instead of expectation. But when broadsided by disappointment, I can quickly enter a sticky spot. It is uncomfortable and trying, but also juicy with potential for change.

I’ve realized that these times can reveal much to me. As I consider why I am feeling disappointed, I can pinpoint areas in me that life has been quietly sculpting. The disappointment can be a shout from the sculptor, “hey, look at this new thing! Look at this new you!” Perhaps it is that I have come to a place where I no longer am able to dull myself to another’s negativity or abuse. The disappointment may be me realizing that I am better than that, that I am worth much more than to be marginalized or diminished. It can be the spark that energizes a new firmness, healthy boundaries, a stubborn insistence on being myself and being treated with respect.

Or the disappointment might be highlighting a wrong turn. Perhaps I was placing my hopes and expectations in the wrong thing or the wrong person. Perhaps I need the reminder to look within my own being for a sense of worth and for satisfaction and enjoyment of life. Maybe this disappointment is really a gift in disguise, sent to help me stay the path.

At times like this, disappointment can point me two directions. It is up to me to choose the correct course for my betterment, for peace and equanimity to fall like a mist over my worries. I can choose the old default setting, allow myself to wallow in old thoughts of unworthiness and lack, along with the felt sense that it will never, ever change so it is better to not get my hopes up again. This old setting is so obviously wrong and full of lies that I can’t choose it consciously. Instead, I can opt for the wider view. This disappointment can be seen as a gift. Unwrapping it takes a bit of effort, but it is always worth it. Inside the wrapping is hidden some new awareness, some sparking insight. I can come away stronger, more determined and full of zest for the future. Often the gift is a mirror, given to remind me of who I am and what I am about. It can plant my feet more firmly on the ground. I can learn about areas of vulnerability I can shore up against future attack. I can become more fully committed to living my best life. I can become more open instead of more closed off.

Ultimately, I am filled with gratitude as I turn toward the lesson and ignore the old squeaky voice of the old default setting. The new default is sharpened and given ever more sway. My conviction about my own worthiness and the preciousness of life is reaffirmed.

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