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Overcoming Disappointment by Dr. Arabia Mollette, MD

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There were [still are] moments in my life when I experienced disappointment.

For me, when these disappointments occur, the development of pain is a direct result. And it stings! When I am in pain, my mind is clouded, my chest hurts, and my body becomes a little feeble. Once I am by myself, I start to cry… a big ugly cry is released from my soul.

But even after I finish having crying spells and wiping away the snot from my nose, I feel disappointed and deep down in a rut for at least the next couple of days. Truth be told, when I am in that space, it is at that very moment that I am reminded that this is a divine opportunity for me to reflect on not necessarily the “why” but more so what are the lessons I’ve learned and how can I move forward.

It is not easy to reflect on the matter when you are in pain; at least not for me. I also do not pretend to be happy while facing pain, but I created a habit for myself of establishing a positive outlook.

I would like to share how our disappointments can be a vehicle for growth, gaining resilience and overcoming adversity in its own time.

What is Disappointment?

A disappointment is defined as sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.

Does this sound familiar? How many times have you expected to get hired for a job, only to be let down? Or you thought someone would help you in troubling times or that an opportunity would come through for you in a timely manner, but it didn’t work out in your favor? You remember how disappointed and frustrated you felt; possibly as though there is no light at the tunnel.

In the age of social media, you can visit your social media pages and witness how great everyone’s lives are. You may start believing that everyone else’s life is somehow better than yours. It made you feel terrible.

Overcoming Disappointment

Please understand that disappointments will come no matter what you do. Life is a journey. As long as we are alive, breathing and roaming this earth, we will be disappointed in others, our current situations and ourselves many times in our lives.

You can overcome disappointment. But it goes beyond just moving on from the situation and forgetting about it. It involves how we grow as individuals, finding contentment in midst of our disappointments and truly understanding those lessons intended to be learned. According to a 2017 article from www.psychologytoday.com, “if you are wired to expect the best, and then you are let down and don’t get it, disappointment and letdown can trigger a physiological response in the brain if you have a tendency toward depression.”

Firstly, one of the most important steps to overcoming disappointments is acknowledging that you are disappointed. When we acknowledge our emotional sentiment tied to a particular situation or person, then we begin the process of healing. Whatever you do, it is important to not deny your emotions. If you have to scream, shout, punch a pillow, walk outside to get air, cry or spend time alone to process the pain, then do it.

Last night, I became extremely disappointed with someone that I considered a mentor. I cannot go into details about what happened but I will say that I definitely cried for several minutes, shouted and walked outside to get air. I acknowledged that I wasn’t in the right mind space and that I was hurting.

And guess what? It is ok because this is when the Universe must have heard my cry because help was sent towards my way after I accepted where I was despite it was painful. Accepting where I was led me to figure how to work through it.

The second step is to embrace your current situation even when it is disheartening. So after I acknowledge my disappointment and accepted where I was, then I embraced the moment. This is where mindfulness comes into play.

I first learned about mindfulness when I lived in Havana, Cuba for many years of my life. Practicing mindfulness is wholeheartedly embedded in Cuban culture, especially in the Afro-Cuban religion of Yoruba. While living in Cuba, I was studying medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine. During medical school, our Cuban professors would speak about utilizing mindfulness within our practice in medicine as physicians. Whenever I felt frustrated with medical school, my own family in Havana would take me to the beach outside of our city, and helped me to focus on what was happening in my life.

I am a Pisces and I love being by the water. They knew that with me being in a space that is soothing and quiet that will it help me to focus my mind on what was happening to me.

See, mindfulness is the ability to focus on one’s awareness or being conscious of something. It can be achieved by acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Honestly this a great technique that I incorporated in my own practice as an Emergency Physician working at a very busy, noisy Level 1 Trauma Center; not only for myself but with my patients even when facing a critical moment in the emergency room.

Mindfulness helped me to press on faithfully despite the uncertainty and unpredictability of my current situation. My mind is trained to look upwards.

Third, it is so important to be mindful of the people you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with supportive people. Many years ago, I used to believe that I can handle all situations by myself. I also believed that in the ideology of “no new friends” because my old friends are all that I need.

The Power of Friendship

Well, the Universe taught me another lesson. Friendships are like bank accounts. We make deposits, withdrawals and sometimes go into the negative and spend what we don’t have in the account. There were a few people that were removed from my life when I was experiencing pain because they were not supportive. They added no value to my current being.

However, I learned that we are not meant to bear life’s burdens alone. Although a few people were removed from my life, I certainly knew that no matter what, the Universe would send someone that I love and who loved me in my time of need.

As I mentioned before, last night I was extremely disappointed in my former mentor. The mentorship is severed and I accepted it. But it hurt like hell. Once I calmed myself down and my mind was not clouded, I reached out to a very close friend of mine (Nicole) to get her perspective. I’ve only known her for a year. But our friendship and sisterhood grew phenomenally. I knew it was the right thing to do to contact Nicole.

She shared her own similar experiences as a testimony and encouragement. Her perspective definitely helped me view things in a better light and reminded me that I was not alone. Before we ended our telephone conversation, we meditated and prayed for wisdom and guidance for all of our situations. Wisdom is about the ability to make good decisions even in the most difficult circumstances.

Final Thoughts

Understanding that it will take time to move on is imperative. There are many things that are beyond our control and we have to do our best to be steadfast. Sometimes the same situation may reoccur. If you find yourself in the same situation, do yourself a favor and ask yourself “what are you going to do differently to bring resolution?”

There are other methods to overcome disappointment. Perhaps prayer and meditation will make a positive difference in your circumstances. Eating clean, nutritionally well-balanced foods can also help with our physical and mental states. Exercise can also boost your mood. Having a good night sleep of at least 8 hours will allow your brain to do its work while your body is resting. While we are sleeping, our brain becomes more active and gets rid of toxins, allowing us to make dreams and wake up in the morning feeling productive.

There are moments that I wish that I didn’t experience some disappointments because the pain is real. But one of the things I absolutely love about life including those same disappointments is that I learned the very lessons that were meant for me to embrace. I am so grateful for mindfulness and the lessons learned. It brought me this far and will continue to get me further during this journey.  

Remember be kind to yourself during these disappointments, don’t stay stuck in your rut and if you are in a rut, please seek professional counseling. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.