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Coping with Disappointment: Strategies for Emotional Resilience

Man sitting on the floor holding his face feeling devestated

So, the people around you have let you down.

I’m sorry if you are going through that, I really am. There are few feelings more frustrating than being unsupported when you need support most. Then reaching out and having no one respond. Then slowly falling apart and having the person you thought would be there not show up. 

I’m sorry that you’re feeling disappointment, because it’s an umbrella term for an array of greater agonies. But here’s the truth about disappointment that we all loathe to acknowledge: It has very little to do with whoever let you down. And no matter how many promises someone else made us, reality has no responsibility to comply with our expectations.

The problem with other people is that they’re never going to understand us as intricately as we understand ourselves. We grow disappointed in the people around us because we use our own definition of love to measure what they are giving out and if it doesn’t match up, we mistake different love for no love. 

We have to understand that some people are not meant for complex relationships or possess the stick-to-itiveness to fight for us, or even fight for what they themselves really want. 

The more we allow ourselves to be disappointed with the people around us, the more we close ourselves off to some of the greatest and most unexpected forms of love. We don’t get control over how anyone else manages his or her affection. We don’t even get to choose where they allocate it. 

But here’s what we do have control over:

We have control over our reaction to love.  We have control over whether or not we’re going to reach out. We get to choose if we’re going to be bitter and isolated or if we’re going to take hold of whatever chance we have at connection. If we’re going to offer our own love up to others or if we’re going to hoard it away and feel confused when others follow our lead. We get to choose if we make the first move when it comes to connection or if we’re going to be a further part of the problem. If we’re going to be one more person who doesn’t show up when they say they will or reach out when others are in need or who wants to receive love first and give it back only when they’re sure it’s not a risk. We get to decide what kind of love we put out there, even if we cannot control what we get back.

Because at the end of the day, that’s the only thing we have control over – how we manage our own care and affection. 

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