I’m disappointed in myself again. It’s the same old thing. I did it (broke my diet, put my foot in my mouth, spent too much money, chose the wrong dating partner) again. Now, I feel a little helpless and hopeless that I will ever get past this. Why can’t I just get over this?
Being disappointed in yourself means your behavior did not match your expectations. There are only two scenarios that could have played out: 1) Your expectations are impossibly high or 2) You sabotaged yourself by doing less than you’re capable of doing.
Common sense would suggest that you either lower your expectations or step up to them in order to solve the problem. But what if we looked at the issue of disappointing yourself with uncommon sense? Maybe putting a new twist on things will wake us up to new possibilities.
Let’s imagine that it doesn’t matter what your expectations are or how consciously determined you are to meet them. Imagine that part of you is bent on being disappointed no matter what. It wants to remain in a place of comfortable and familiar failure, stewing in low-grade self-loathing.
That’s where this part of you feels best – where it belongs. It just wants to experience life as a chronic let down and compels you to behave accordingly.
Why would this happen?
Here’s an uncommon answer that may cause you to raise your eyebrows: Because you are ungrateful.
Imagine. You thought you were just letting yourself down chronically as if you were unlucky, incompetent, or lazy, or even driven toward failure for some ungodly reason. But the truth is, you simply lack gratitude in a wholesale fashion. The first time I heard this I was offended. How DARE you suggest I’m an ingrate! You don’t even know me.
Regardless, let’s take a look at how this bold claim could be true; at how lacking gratitude, in general, could lead one directly to a life of chronic disappointment. In fact, lacking gratitude, you’d be perfectly primed for hopelessness.
Let’s say you’re the average person living in a first-world country. You have a roof over your head, running water, food on the table, and live in relative safety. There are no armed drones flying overhead or tinpot dictators in your vicinity. You’re basically OK.
How much do you appreciate these safety and survival luxuries that millions of people in the world do NOT enjoy? I mean really appreciate….like you really do feel appreciation and gratitude in your heart.
If your answer is, “Well, I don’t feel appreciation every day. I tend to focus on what I don’t have and everything that goes wrong,” then you’re a normal person who lacks gratitude and perspective. You may not appreciate that being alive at all is an unfathomable miracle. Further, staying alive moment to moment is also a miracle beyond comprehension. Of course, all of this may easily escape you as you focus on whatever you believe is going wrong; all your petty complaints. This is normal. I do it, too.
But if you step back for a moment and consider everything that has gone right for you today, you may be impressed. You woke up alive. Amazing. You’re on a device connected to a world of information on the internet. Incredible! You’re free to make choices that our ancestors would consider in the realm of the gods.
Beyond that, having any friends at all or people who support you, any material goods whatsoever…..and just getting through the day with all of your modern appliances and amazing transportation opportunities that function properly. These are all amazing opportunities to feel grateful because they just as easily could malfunction or not exist.
The basic luxuries that we all take for granted are incredible opportunities for gratitude (read: to feel good; lucky). Are we feeling it? If not, then we might as well consider ourselves whiny children who have no idea what life is all about. At least children aren’t supposed to have an idea. Adults, well, are just inappropriately immature – big toddlers.
Spoiled and complaining on autopilot, then this happens…
We become entrenched in a pattern of looking for what goes wrong and, nurturing our special victimhood, we miss the daily miracles that sustain our lives. Did the sun rise today? Did someone you know contribute to your life? Can you breathe freely? Forget all this and everything that has gone right; we’re more interested in feeling bad. In fact, feeling bad becomes an old, comfortable shoe that seems to fit perfectly.
This is why when we screw up, we pile on ourselves so aggressively. It’s more evidence that life isn’t a miraculous gift, but a special kind of curse aimed at making us miserable. And we come to cherish the misery, forgetting to look for the daily blessings that would transform our narrow perspective. Making mistakes is no reason to feel disappointed and down. It just happens. We may need to improve, to step up to our potential. This is much easier to do in a state of gratitude. But we don’t want that, right?
How easy is it to practice gratitude?
As easy as writing down a few things once a day in a gratitude journal – as simple as reminding yourself to be grateful for what you have. But who wants to do that when there are so many delicious things to complain about?
This post is a reminder to me. Does it apply to you as well? Or are you offended, as I once was?
Read more of my gratitude articles here.
If you like this article, like my Facebook Page to keep up with all my writing.