The word itself sounds sad to me. To disappoint, to be disappointed, to experience disappointment, none of it sounds good. But at the same time it is a fact of life. Every day cannot be perfect. Every goal won’t be reached on the first attempt. Every relationship will not go smoothly. We will all have disappointments in life, so better to understand them and figure out how you are going to deal with them.

There are times when I know that I have disappointed myself and later when I can look back and review what happened without the emotional upheaval that generally comes along with it, then I see that often my disappointment was a result of my own unrealistic expectations.

I think it is great to set the bar for yourself as high as you can. Don’t go for what you can already accomplish but extend yourself to new levels but then if you don’t reach them don’t beat yourself up about falling short. To me that is the biggest challenge. I have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best I can be and feel sometimes that constantly moving standard can be too much. I also know that there are some people who for whatever reason look up to me and I can feel the weight of their expectations too. Generally I welcome those expectations as they help push me to excel but sometimes, when I fall short, I feel I’ve not just disappointed myself but those people too.

Figuring out how to deal with these emotions is a huge challenge, and it is not always clear which is the right way to get yourself back on track.

Sometimes you can be disappointed by friends or family, they didn’t call, they didn’t seem to care, they were too busy with their own lives to have time for you. But are those expectations that you have placed on the relationship or real shortfalls? Were they simply being themselves and you wanted them to be more in a way that suited you better? There is room for both answers. But whether the let down is real or something you imposed on the relationship, it is you who has to deal with it. Hopefully with honesty and some caring on your part to try to better understand the situation rather than looking to place blame because it is not what you want it to be.

One of my fears and another pressure I know I put on myself is being afraid that I might disappoint someone I care about. Friendships and the people I love are extremely important to me and I place a high value on them. In doing so I strive to be the best I can be in those relationships. I want so badly to be able to be a positive part of these other peoples lives that I fear it is me who is undermining the relationship by building up expectations in myself and others. Sometimes you just need to relax and be yourself and not try too hard. Maybe that should be my next tattoo because Keep Going and Be Better are not the right approach for every single situation.

I was crushed by my own disappointment recently. It was after doing a workout for the Crossfit Open competition when I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. It wasn’t just a workout that I could walk away from and say I’d do better next time because the stakes were high and the potential for my achieving my ultimate goal of making it to the Crossfit Games I felt was on the line. When it was over I vented on a friend, and I’m ashamed of that moment, and left the gym so angry and upset with myself for not doing what I knew I was capable of. I got to my car and I was shaking. I was pushing myself over the edge of reason and struggling with an emotional state. Fortunately I made a good decision and asked a friend to come out and talk to me. That conversation was exactly what I needed and I am so grateful that I had someone who I could lean on in that moment. That person I always want to be for others, the one who supplies the support and encouragement, I needed someone to do that for me and luckily I had it. In many ways it was a defining moment and I’m so grateful for the benefits of that friendship and the impact it had on me. The good news is I reflected on that conversation and my performance on the next day and then one day later came back and repeated the workout. This time my friend was right there coaching me through it and I did exactly what I needed to, I reached my goals and I lived up to my expectations. I don’t think I could have done it on my own.

My disappointment got in the way of what I was capable of but I was lucky and got a helping hand when I needed it most. We all get disappointed and we can all use a hand sometimes. I strive to be the one who offers that hand. I try to be sensitive to my family and friend’s moods and concerns so that I can be there for them.

Like most things in life it is how you deal with the hard stuff that says who you really are. One thing I have just learned is that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of trust, it is being willing to show your vulnerability and have faith that there are people in your life who care about you and will be there for you.

While it is rare for me to find myself needing the help I recognize it for the good thing it is because no matter how big your heart is you can’t always be giving it away, sometimes you need to let some come back in.

I believe in the power of love and friendship to drive away disappointment. I believe we are all capable of helping others when they fall short of their own goals and expectations. I believe that when you help someone you can both grow and the sharing of dealing with a disappointment can be a positive rather than a negative. Sometimes life can suck but I believe when you let someone in and accept some help then it won’t be so bad and you can find a new starting place to move forward. I believe.



1 thought on “Disappointment

  1. Hi Terry,

    Amazing post! Before I share my thoughts I want to truly say thank you for sharing this personal story and reflection with the world – I know that all those who read this will walk away having learned and benefited from hearing your experience.

    If nothing else, through this whole post I was constantly nodding my head… Yup, I have been there before, I have done that, I have felt that before! I would say that a weakness of mine (although I’ve improved) is putting way too much pressure on myself to achieve the massive goals that I set for myself. This has led to many things over the years, physically breaking down, getting depressed, losing the balance, sacrificing friendships, and of course, disappointment.

    It’s funny, while over the years I have learned to approach and deal with disappointment differently, I have never stopped setting the big, way out there goals for myself. I think this piece is important to me – a core value of mine being the belief that we all have the power and opportunity to change the world – setting big goals allows me to continue to believe in this.

    My relationship with disappointment has significantly evolved over the years, I think part of this is attributed to continuing to learn about life, and that any single experience or missed goal, is typically relatively small compared to everything else going on in our lives. What I mean by this is not winning a championship, or making it to the games, or landing that job, is seemingly insignificant when compared with the people I love, the freedom of choice and opportunity, good health, a roof over my head… This is a perspective I can always come back to to help ground me and take some of the “load” off of the emotional pain of disappointment. The other piece I hold onto closely is the learning associated with failure – this is of course the greatest opportunities for us to grow and learn as humans. And so while the pain and frustration of disappointment is always hard to deal with, there is a silver lining of learning opportunities that, if you can keep perspective, is there for all of us.

    Thank you again for sharing, I am so happy to both the learnings that came out of this experience for you, as well as the fact that applying them (working through it with a close friend) led to immediate results and success.

    Cheers my friend, and good luck on 13.4! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s