Unconventional Coaching

Energizing the relationships in your life

February 5, 2013
Getting Real

Releasing Disappointments in Relationships

We recognize the feeling. We expected X and got Y, or even Z. How did this happen?! We thought she understood us, or he really cared, but suddenly the behavior towards us doesn’t fit. We feel lost, angry, or sad.

We’re disappointed.

It so easy for this to happen in relationships, because our ideas about how relationships should be often get in the way of how things are….or could be. And this leads to real letdown.

Okay. It’s the unrealistic expectations, we are told.  As my good friend deadpans, “Disappointment takes adequate preparation.”

Well, yes, we all have certain beliefs about how relationships work. We learned them from our early training, from the culture, or our previous experiences. We have developed a set of assumptions about how it all is. And then we believe that others have the same assumptions, so we have set ourselves up for a fall.

“I think that people have expectations of themselves and other people that are based on these fictions that are presented to them as the way human life and relationships could be, in some sort of weird, ideal world, but they never are. So you’re constantly being shown this garbage and you can’t get there. “ Charlie Kaufman

Allowing ourselves to actually feel the disappointment, however, can lead to something better, something really healthy and positive for us.

If we just allow ourselves to feel it–truly–we can discover the (perhaps hidden) expectation that set us up. Did we think that our partner, friend, spouse should just KNOW what we wanted? Did we believe that the relationship required this or that?

When we find the expectation, we can go even deeper: What is it that this expectation was supposed to have done? What is it that having that expectation met would have given us? What is the need? What is the desire?

Going deeper: How do we want to feel? How could we feel that way right now, without depending on the expectation being met? Then, how might we meet that desire for ourselves? Or how can we ask for what we want/need in a way that increases the chance of our getting it?

This approach involves being very kind to ourselves when we are disappointed–taking really good care of ourselves. Being in our corner, having our own back, regardless of what someone else has done/not done.

We might even find ourselves being kind to the other person involved.

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