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Letting someone down.  Disappointment. I can’t stand it. Either one.

I don’t know how to deny, resist, oppose – within reason.  If some choice could only potentially hurt me, I see it as a matter of course.  Better me than them.  I’ve always been the one to willingly sacrifice, always content to play the martyr.  Better I hurt than they.

I guess in some respects I don’t know how to exist in the gray area.  I still have yet to let go of some extremes, the “black or white” mentality.

I believe that letting someone down assumes and relies on expectations, of some sort.  It starts at a young age, when, as moldable children we grow up under the ruling eye of our parents who expect manners, good grades, and dutifulness.  Disappointment inevitably comes when children slip outside of their parents’ expectations.  To me, it appears as a necessary cycle – learning and then ignoring expectations. 

Later, we may have expectations for ourselves – move out, go to college, get a good job, start a family….etc. And so we find we can even let ourselves down.

But now I am beginning to question if expectations should be so prominent in our lives.  Should we learn to live with disappointment, like so many curmudgeons tell us?  Or can we possibly live without expectation?  Is it possible?  What would a world without expectations look like?

I think some expectations serve a purpose, mostly to tell us about ourselves.  I, for one, have in the past relied too much on expectations coming true to bring happiness.  I thought that specific events were where joy was to be had.  I was once a person on a constant roller coaster that went from cloud nine to utter devastation in a blink of an eye, completely dependent upon outcomes.  I was at the whims of each pivotal moment, lacking insight and “control” to take it in stride.  My anxiety ruled me like a servant.

I find now that expectations aren’t as dangerous as I previously thought – it’s more how we treat them.  If we have expectations that we understand are not written in stone, that have a level of uncertainty (because what really IS certain, anyway) then we loosen the reigns enough that we can be flexible and be fine no matter what happens.  In that case, I think how we handle disappointment should be considered, too.  Do we interpret every undesirable event as the end of the world?

I fear the unexpected.  I am afraid of curveballs.  And before, such things would shatter my world.

Now, I find that if I embrace the moment (instead of giving in to the flight response coursing through me) it takes just few minutes of recalibration.  I need to adjust my perception, consider the change, and maybe even find the silver lining.  Because my nature has always been to immediately jump to the worse conclusion and truthfully most day-to-day occurrences just aren’t that serious.

I have spent quite a bit of time ruminating over disappointment once I realized it was a constant occurrence and continued to frustrate me.  I didn’t want to be disappointed all the time.  And then it hit me – no one can disappoint me unless I LET them.   It’s all about how I view things and where my joy lies.  If my happiness continued to be conditional, I would perpetually be at war with my anxiety and a neverending roller coaster.  No thanks!

What I only recently discovered is my comparable distaste for and avoidance of letting others down.  I hate saying no or changing my mind.  I feel guilty.  I feel selfish.  I feel unreliable and untrustworthy.  All the things that run through my mind when I’m on the receiving end…

I have many more hours to understand this mentality.  So far, it has thrown violently in my face a harsh reality: that those aspects I battle against in others or within specific events are the same ones I am critical of or fear within me. 

The outside world mirrors the one within.

Hmmm… more to ponder…

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