I don’t know about you, but I held back in life so often! I second guessed myself, hesitated, over-thought every little thing and got myself into analysis paralysis. Most of the time I did this when an opportunity presented itself or when I wanted to do something really amazing and exciting, something that would make me happy!
Do you know why I did this- it’s because I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
I know I’m not alone in this- we’ve all done it and many of us are still doing it. We say things like ‘I don’t want to get my hopes up’ or ‘I’ll see what happens’ whenever the chance of a great opportunity is there regardless of whether it’s a promotion, new job, meeting someone great that you really click with- our almost default reaction is not to get our hopes up. It seems like the smart thing to do yeah?
What we’re doing is we’re trying to protect ourselves from being let down, feeling disappointed and vulnerable. One way that you protect yourself against vulnerability is you just kind of stay in a constant state of disappointment.
It’s easier to live disappointed than to feel disappointment. A constant state of disappointment is easier than dipping in and out of it and this is what so many people do. The problem with this approach though is that without realising it, you’re building up barriers against the good stuff as well and isolating yourself.
When I made myself live in that constant low level of disappointment in order to protect myself from feeling disappointed or let down- guess what happened? I was always low. I didn’t get excited about things, I didn’t pursue anything with passion and I didn’t share my hopes and dreams with people I cared about, I kept putting off the excitement and happy feelings and then all of a sudden, the moment would have passed and it was over. It was incredibly lonely.
There is an author/researcher in the States called Brene Brown and I adore her work- she has a book called The Gifts Of Imperfection and in it, she explains that if you refuse to get your hopes up, it doesn’t lessen the disappointment if your dream doesn’t happen, but it absolutely lessens the joy and happiness you experience.
So, say there is the amazing opportunity in work. A job that you have been working towards for years, great salary, a bit of travel and some work from home- you know you want it so bad BUT you start protecting yourself from disappointment and start to tell yourself and other people ‘Oh, it’s not that big a deal! I might not get it because if this and that, this person is much more qualified, blah blah, blah’.
Say you don’t get it- do you feel disappointed? Of course you do, you feel crushed! And not only that, but you also feel lonely because no one else gets that you’re feeling crushed because ‘It wasn’t a big deal’. No one reaches out to you, there’s no offer of a girly chat with tea and biccies, you’re on your own in your misery!
On the other hand, say you do get it! Do you feel good? For most people, the joyous feelings of success are very brief because you want to shout it from the rooftops about how excited you are and you want to celebrate but it doesn’t happen because it wasn’t a big deal remember. No one in your life even knew that you cared about it so again, no one reaches out. There’s no congratulations, there’s no dinner and cocktails, no champagne, no fuss and you know what, you probably won’t even celebrate it yourself- you’ll just say ‘that’s done, now what’s next?’.
You protected yourself so fiercely so that the pain would be less if it didn’t work out how you wanted but in doing so, you sucked all of the good stuff out of the experience as well.
It’s easier to live disappointed than to feel disappointment but my question to you is this:
Is it worth it?
Is protecting yourself from potential disappointment worth it if you also suck out all of the good stuff?
I used to think that the people who announced their wild dreams and hopes were just plain idiots who ultimately would come crashing down to earth with broken hearts and shattered aspirations but now, I want to be like them.
You see, I’ve lived in that space of shattered aspirations, a broken heart because I lived disappointed in an attempt to avoid ‘feeling’ disappointed and that was without announcing my wild dreams and hopes! I just built walls around myself and hid from the world telling myself I didn’t care.
But now, I’m ok in ‘feeling’ disappointed. And it’s what I believe we should aspire to- instead of building walls around ourselves, let’s build a community of people around us who know us, who see us and know when to celebrate with us and when to console us. Let’s strive for that connection and passion. Maybe we will feel deep disappointment some days but I guarantee that we’ll also feel deep, deep, joy, passion and excitement as well! I don’t know about you, but I want to live and love like that!