Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How To Disappoint Disappointment

Spiritography Day 3: Imaging the Sacred in Everyday Life

Once upon a time, a little girl visited a magical kingdom beyond her wildest dreams.

A shining castle graced the landscape. It's beautiful princess welcomed the little girl with a hug. And cartoon characters came alive! It was the happiest place on earth for children.

The little girl was so excited to explore the kingdom. Amusement rides beckoned her. The aroma of cotton candy and popcorn enticed her. Magic tricks enchanted her. The little girl bubbled with joy.

When she saw all the other children with ice cream cones, she wanted one, too. So, her daddy got her one -- three giant scoops of vanilla.

In her excitement, she took one lick, and then. . .SPLAT!

All three scoops began melting at her feet.

I was left standing with an empty cone. Epic disappointment.

This memory resurfaced as I crossed the parking lot to my car when I came across an ice cream cone on the ground, the ice cream melting all over the hot asphalt. So, I snapped a photo of it as I contemplated disappointment and the gift it offers, when we open ourselves to it.

ice cream
"Ice Cream and Asphalt"

No one enjoys being disappointed, but it happens. And as uncomfortable as it is at times, we can find the strength we need to effectively handle our disappointments and move forward with our lives.

It helps to recognize our old strategies of dealing with disappointment before incorporating new ones. Many times we are tempted to blame someone or something else. Some people will reach for alcohol or drugs to numb the pain. Whatever the method, it only prolongs the pain. With this kind of mindset, we condemn ourselves as victims. Once we recognize our old strategies, we can create new ones that are healthy, constructive, and affirmative, and we can turn disappointment around to our advantage.

Disappointment makes us take a step back. It gives us the gift of reflection, offering us the opportunity to re-evaluate who we are and where we stand with our priorities. It's the pause button in life that helps us to reconsider our position and direction.

Disappointment can help build character and patience, if you're open to it. It invites us to discover just how strong and resilient we really are.

Disappointment is here to serve us, not defeat us. It challenges us to find new ways and to try new things, allowing us to tap into our creative potential. We begin to search for solutions rather than perseverate on the problem. If Thomas Edison let disappointment stop him from inventing the light bulb, where would we be?

Disappointment is temporary. It may shake our core at times, but we can take an empowering approach by seeking help, talking with a trusted adviser or friend, thinking about the role we played in the situation and how we can change it, and expressing our feelings in constructive ways. Sometimes it helps to ask, is this really worth getting angry or upset over?

Disappointment is no accident. So you didn't get that dream job you were hoping for, or your romantic interest is unavailable. Or maybe you didn't get to enjoy that ice cream that you dropped onto the sidewalk. Whatever the disappointment, trust that a better scenario is working its way toward you in order to bring you closer to what you truly want. With this mindset, you are no longer a victim to circumstance.

In a perfect kingdom, disappointments wouldn't happen, and ice cream wouldn't fall off of their cones, but we are human and we will continue to disappoint and be disappointed. It's a part of life, but it's a part that can help us grow. Accepting this lessens our suffering while granting the opportunity to appreciate what really matters in life.

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