I am feverishly working through quirks in the new website. I welcome any feedback about brendaknowles.com. Are you able to find what you need? Are you able to comment on and share posts easily? How does it show up on your phone? Anything missing or needing improvement? Space2live is still the blog but the encompassing website is brendaknowles.com. Change is hard and I’m adjusting to the new layout myself. I care about you and I want brendaknowles.com to be easy to use and above all, helpful. Please contact me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, all of this technical work has robbed me of my idle creative time.
But… because of my distractions you will get to enjoy another post by frequent space2live guest post-er, Andy Mort.
Andy is a fellow introvert/highly sensitive writer and champion. He is a huge believer in personal
creativity and personal potential. He is the founder of SheepDressedLikeWolves.com, a blog and podcast aimed at encouraging introverted and highly sensitive people to embrace their creativity and push against the expectations of an often overwhelming world. Please check out the Members Haven at SheepDressedLikeWolves.com. There you’ll find great resources and camaraderie for introverts, sensitives and creatives. Andy interviews individuals with valuable insight into living well with our temperament.
Also, Andy is a beautiful and gifted musician! Check out his work here. I recently spent some time listening to many of his songs. Your deep and intuitive mind will definitely enjoy the lyrics and your spirit will love the music.
Please enjoy his post about experiencing and coping with disappointment.
Do you fear disappointment?
It is one of the most insidious and destructive fears. It can lead us away from truly living and engaging with the world. It’s a fear that makes sense. I mean, disappointment can hurt. It can create paralysis.
When life falls short of our hopes, dreams, and expectations it’s there to greet us like an old friend.
Disappointment can have a long-lasting impact on our lives. This can be especially true for introverts. We may think more deeply, blame ourselves, hide the shame of it, ask searching questions, and keep it all to ourselves.
By nature we look inwards for answers.
If you’re like me then when you experience that inward shame, you want to hide it from other people. You either push down the feeling of disappointment, pretend that everything’s ok, or you try to fix it on your own.
In the music industry there is a lot of BS that flies about. Promises, assurances, and offers that get broken, back-tracked and withdrawn. Like other creative industries if you carry certain beliefs about what success looks like, i.e. if you believe that you need to be ‘discovered’ by a gatekeeper to your dreams, then you need to prepare and harden yourself for a long road of disappointments.
This happened on a few occasions for me when I was starting out. In 2009 I was invited to join the roster of a very well known national booking agent. They promised all sorts of exciting new opportunities. A few days later however they went bust. The balloon of futile hope and joy popped in an instant.
Despite knowing that the cause of my disappointment was not my doing, the shame still kicked in for allowing myself to hope/believe. For being excited about something that didn’t happen. For being naive enough to believe that it was possible.
And as I know many introverts do, I internalised it and self-blamed for exposing myself to disappointment. When we do this repeatedly we begin to build resistence, and innoculate ourselves to experiencing painful emotions.
It’s not because we get better at coping with disappointment, but rather because we get better at avoiding it. In the process we get better at avoiding the positive flipside. It gradually leads to emotional paralysis and numbness in other areas:
Disappointment happens when something or someone falls short of our hopes. Hope is the catalyst for positive change and the belief that something can be better. Without it we may become cynical and passively accepting of negative situations such as abuses of power and cycles of damaging behaviour.
‘Don’t get your hopes up’ is another phrase we might hear a lot. If you don’t hope too high then when disappointment inevitably hits it wont hurt as much. There are also those who live by the philosophy: ‘hope for the worst and anything else will be a bonus’. While this makes sense in theory, in reality life doesn’t work like that.
When your excitement is burst by disappointment as it was for me with the booking agent, it can be disillusioning. It can feel like you were naive and wrong to be excited.
In the aftermath of that experience I found myself turning off my excitement at every opportunity I then had. I developed a superstitious voice that would unconsciously say ‘don’t get excited or you’ll lose this’.
By internalising my past disappointments I had numbed myself to future excitement.
It’s OK to be sad when you are sad. This is not a message that is readily pedalled in society today. The story is instead if we are sad we need to be fixed, we need to make everything OK, and bounce back.
These messages may prevent us from seeing our true emotions through to completion.
Disappointment can lead to sadness. That’s obvious.
But when you feel that it’s wrong to be sad you will do all you can to eliminate the cause of that sadness (disappointment).
A few years ago I looked after a dear family friend who had a rapidly debilitating form of dementia. It was a desperately sad situation which carried little hope.
When asked by someone I opened up about the sadness I was feeling about the situation. But rather than simply listening and perhaps offering a shoulder of comfort I was surprised to receive some unsought advice. The apparent solution to my sadness was for me to step away and remove my involvement in my friends’ life (the cause of my sadness).
I politely declined this advice, which exemplified an attitude we often carry; it’s not OK to be sad about things we need to express sadness over. Rather we need to eliminate the cause, remove ourselves from it, and hide how we truly feel.
But if we are to cope with disappointment then we need to honour the emotions that come from it. If we don’t allow ourselves to see the sadness through we wont be ready to get back up and start again. The same goes for other so-called negative emotions that might spring from our disappointment: anger, despair, frustration, jealousy, envy, fear, doubt etc.
These are all natural responses to disappointment and if we believe they are bad or taboo then we will feel ashamed. If we try to process them alone and inwardly then we gradually close down our emotional capacity.
We need people around us with whom we can share disappointments. Not people who want to fix us. But people who will just stand alongside us and say ‘I’m sorry’ when things fall short of our hopes.
People who will get excited with us when we’re excited. Those who will remind us that it’s OK to be hopeful and expectant. And if disappointment does kick in to remind us that we were still right to be excited and that it’s now ok to feel sad, angry, frustrated etc. People who will help us see that through so that we are ready to get through the other side, to hope again, get excited, and live fully alive.
We can be that person to someone else.
Disappointment is not something to fear, it’s something to embrace, listen to, allow and learn from.
Over to You
Do you fear disappointment? What does this stop you from doing?
**Other Andy Mort posts on space2live: What Would You Tell Your Younger Introverted Self? and Where’d My Energy Go? 12 Causes of Over-arousal for the Introvert and/or the Highly Sensitive Person