Let that shit go

If we will be quiet and ready enough,
we shall find compensation
in every disappointment.


Henry David Thoreau

I know it is no consolation, but sometimes it was not meant to be. That is the reality.

Disappointment and achievement are inextricably tied together. They are complementary. You can not have one without the other. There is no real disappointment without passion and love. When you care deeply about something, and you construct a trajectory of expectations, you are destined for the land of disappointment.

Disappointment cannot be a final destination. It is part of the great learning curve. The notion of “failure” is disappointment’s granddaddy.


The present is that often the unexplored space between hope and disappointment.

When we let go of our need for the outcome, for our craving of the result, we can focus on our purpose, presence, and practice.

Like the classic Samurai in Kyodo archery, we need to be fully engaged, focused on the moment and let go of the arrow knowing we did what we could.

The greatest athletes, the greatest philosophers counsel us to focus on the process and not the product. On the present not on the outcomes. Any desire for the fruits of our labor, distract us from the craft and competence.

I will spare you the failure diatribe, because you know it. There is no education, maturation or growth without failure and disappointment. I will also not harp on relative disappointment in a world of suffering. Our comfort and privilege should always mediate our sense of loss. 

And yet disappointments arise. 

After quick versions of the obligatory blame game. And a ride on the self-victimization train. We need to take inventory of what we have and what we still want.

What are the lessons, insights, strengths and ultimately energy we can derive from this disappointment?

Stop taking it personally. It has very little to do with you at this point. 

When you are confident about who you are and what you do then what others do and say is less important. You can’t give away your trust in yourself. 

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do. Eleanor Roosevelt

Sure you could have done things differently, but you didn’t. Others could have respected you more, if that was even a factor. What’s done is done.

Decisions are made. Choices finalized. “Winners” emerge.

Disappointments kill off little options, but they don’t kill you.

Runner-up? Do you feel better? Of course not. There are few “moral victories”.

The extraordinary studies of Olympic medalists reveal their satisfaction is driven by the story of relative success. Gold medalists are very pleased. Silver medalists are less happy with some regret. Close but no cigar. The bronze medalists are happy to be on the medals podium and feel lucky to have finished above the crowd. And fourth place finishers are deeply disappointed being just outside the velvet ropes. Even the top athletes in the world undermine their happiness with disappointment based on counterfactual narratives.

The What If merry-go-round of regrets. The home invasion of the self-condemnation mob. And the membership in the everybody’s-against-me  conspiracy club.

We love to beat ourselves up with fictitious stories.

Byron Katie’s amazing questions come to the rescue.

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters – Epictetus  

The Stoics guide us again!

When you take risks you are headed for disappointment.

What would a life be without taking risks-disappointing. 😊

We gotta go for it. Risk our hearts. Risk our stability. Risk our ideas. Risk our words.

You can try again if that is an option. You can quit if that is your inclination. You can re-dedicate yourself to what you have always done—becoming the best you can be.

Hold your head up. Grab your bow again. Focus on what you control. -Learning and practicing. Believe in yourself. Be fully present. Then send the arrows on their way.

A friend saw this cup and said "You have to put this in your newsletter!" So here it is. Found it at a cafe in Taos a few years ago.

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