In an ideal world, all of our relationships would be balanced, fulfilling, and we would never be disappointed.
After all, it feels awful to be disappointed in someone you love!
And that can make abandoning the relationship — or distancing yourself emotionally — very tempting.
But just because there are disappointments, doesn’t mean you should give up!
After all, disappointment doesn’t come from animosity, or even from a lack of love, but from expectations not being met.
The damage happens when you allow disappointment to fester, slowly poisoning your relationships.
We asked a group of fantastic relationship Experts for advice on how to manage disappointments, to help you move on to healthier, happier times in your life.
The responses from our team of Experts — Carolyn Mein, John Gray, Hans Stahlschmidt, and Debra Dupree — offer seriously powerful advice to help you process and move past your disappointment BEFORE it ruins your relationships.
Follow these four steps for a fresh perspective and an opportunity to grow closer to the people you love:
1. Be appreciative.
The opposite of disappointment is appreciation.
So, to get past the disappointment, the first step is to appreciate yourself and others.
The easiest way to start is to appreciate what was done, rather than focusing on what didn’t happen.
For example, imagine you asked your partner to clean up from dinner and come down to find all the dishes nicely in the sink and the table cleaned.
Instead of focusing on how your spouse didn’t fully wash the dishes, focus on how they did clean the table and put the food away.
By looking for the positive, you’ll notice all the things that your partner did to help, many of which were steps towards getting what you really wanted.
In other words, it’s not all bad. By managing your expectations in this way, you will begin to appreciate your partner more and feel happier about the relationship.
2. Lower your expectations.
Lower them — but don’t give them up entirely!
One trap people fall into is having the lowest of expectations of someone they love, in order to avoid feeling any disappointment.
But it’s just as bad to have ridiculously high and unrealistic expectations.
An easy way to balance this is by focusing on “what is”, not on “what should be” — or what you wish it could be, someday.
If you focus on reality (instead of what the reality could be), you’ll find you are less disappointed in life, without expecting bad or irresponsible behavior from someone you love. That doesn’t help anybody.
Ask yourself honestly: did you communicate exactly what you were expecting? Were you clear? Did they hear you and understand? Did they agree to do or give you want you asked for?
Very often, disappointment boils down a misunderstanding.
If you asked your child to clean his room and all he did was straighten up, you feel like he/she took the lazy route and did the bare minimum.
In reality, your child had no way of knowing that when you said clean you meant to dust the furniture and organize the books.
If you articulate your expectations well, you’ll find it much easier for the people in your life to meet them.
4. Understand that everyone isn’t exactly like you.
This is perhaps the most important step. Very often, we expect something to be done exactly how we would do it.
But the truth is, just because you can do something well doesn’t mean the other person can and vice versa.
You might be able to plan the perfect day with your best friend weeks in advance, but your friend might be more of a plan-as-you-go kind of person.
Everyone has their own strengths. It’s important to understand that they aren’t the same for everyone.
To expect from them what you would do if you were in the same situation is only setting yourself up for disappointment.
The truth is we can’t be rid of disappointments. They are a normal part of life.
But the key to having a happier life and healthy relationships is to manage your expectations, so disappointments don’t swallow you whole.
If you need help managing your expectations, processing your disappointment, or are having other troubles in any of your relationships, please visit the websites of our Experts and contact Carolyn, John, Hans, and Debra directly. They’re here to help.
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