Getting Used to Disappointment

Written By Renée Miller

A line from the movie  The Princess Bride  has stuck with me for years: “Get used to disappointment.”  It seems such a hard, yet truthful phrase.  Like a bird flying into a plate-glass door, we crash into disappointment with an unwelcome thud.  After the first moment of shock, we feel  flattened, like our breath has been squeezed out of us and we can hardly move.  Disappointment is difficult not because it is unexpected, but because we expect it too much.

Disappointment is not just the other side of hope, it exists at the edge of hope. Where hope and disappointment meet there is tension.  As long as we are hoping for something, we try to push disappointment away.  When we are in a place of disappointment, we try to keep from hoping again. Consequently, hope is never fully experienced as hope, because we are expecting disappointment at the same time.  Disappointment is never fully experienced as disappointment, because we're focused on our distrust in hope's promises.

Both hope and disappointment are part of human existence.  The only way to avoid the deep swings between the two is to ease the tension between the boundary where they meet.  Staying in the present moment is the most effective way of doing that.  When you are experiencing the full force of disappointment, truly feel that disappointment without splitting your focus between the pain of disappointment and the blame you want to attach to hope for having failed you. Alternatively, when hope is wrapped around you with the sweetest  grace,  be aware of that moment without imagining that your hope will soon be dashed.  Just feel hope when hope is present. Feel disappointment when disappointment is present,  There in the space between the two is the peace and stillness of the Holy One.