You may have someone in your life who you love with every ounce of your heart. A good friend from high school or college. A family member. A significant other. Whoever that someone is, you may have felt frustrated when they snapped at you suddenly, backed out of your plans (again…), left you out of something important, or simply haven’t been there when you really needed them. You may have even thought:
If only I could just get so and so to show up once in a while…
If only I could just make so and so prioritize our relationship…
If only so and so would just hear me out…
You know how the story goes. If only so and so would change, everything would be different.
The problem is you can’t change so and so. And I know you know this.
So what do you do? How do you react when disappointment calls?
Do you just let your friend walk all over you? Do you accept being flaked out on all the time? Do you let that guy keep treating you like you are a pawn in his game?
First and foremost, heck no! We have to own and claim how we want others to treat us and we do this by showing them what’s okay and what’s not okay. This is not okay.
However, we are talking about people who we care about deeply and it is no easy task when so and so is someone you love.
Here are my top 3 tips for handling disappointment:
1. Understand what is happening.
What’s happening on so and so’s end? Do you know? Have you asked? I always go to this place FIRST because so many times we assume what is happening and get caught up in the game. We create a fictitious story and completely run with it, convincing ourselves our version is true. Stop that right now. When was the last time you used your voice to find out what is going on? Oftentimes I find out that there’s more to the story than I am aware of. Way more. Find out. Ask questions. Use your voice.
2. Wait until you are in a rational place to talk.
We have to make sure we are not asking questions when we are frustrated. Wait until some time has passed and you are calm. Guaranteed that when you show up from a place of love and understanding, you’ll be able to react in a way that actually helps you create more of what you are wanting. It’s easiest to protect ourselves from pain by getting upset and pushing those away who hurt us. But sometimes those who hurt us are the very people we love. They aren’t bad people. They love us just as much and we typically have overall positive relationships with them. Yet, if we can subtly remind ourselves in those moments of frustration that we have the power to control what’s on our end of the relationship, we can choose to respond from a place of love and understanding to learn more about what’s going on for them.
3. Avoid “why” questions.
Your goal is to understand what’s going on with so and so. If we jump to a question that starts with “why,” we are likely to put others on the defense. Think about the last time you asked so and so why they didn’t show up, why they weren’t there, or why they never call? So and so is likely to get very defensive and pull farther away from you. Remember, we want to create connection. We want to understand what’s actually happening, so it’s key that we start with questions that help us achieve this. I recommend starting off with a “what” question. Here’s an example of how this may sound:
What’s been going on lately? I’ve noticed you haven’t been around as much. Is everything okay?
Remember these tips to help you stay emotionally in control.
By doing so, you are creating a tiny bit of space between the feeling of frustration and your reaction, and that’s where the real power lives.
Your attention shifts from being mad at so and so, to wanting to understand what is happening with so and so. There’s a big difference here. One lives in frustration and anger while the other lives in compassion.
I know which one I respond best to. Do you?