Some of my worst days tend to center around feeling frustrated. The more I think about that frustration, the more I realize it typically has to do with disappointment; whether its disappointment in myself, someone else, or something. I think I get disappointed a lot and maybe it's because my expectations are too high... for myself and others. I had to look up a definition. Dictionary.com states disappointment is " depressed or discouraged by the failure of one's hopes or expectations." Well, at least I articulated that correctly. Now, the hard part of figuring out how to deal with it. I think it's hard to vent disappointments with yourself, and especially with others! But what is so hard about it?
Communication. Why does everything always have to go back to how we communicate? You'd think centering life around getting good at one thing like communicating would be easy... but no. Communicating to work through something like disappointment entails processing with someone else through an issue and diffusing the hurt. This does not sound easy. I know I stray from doing it because I don't want to lose control, I don't want to hurt the other person, I don't want to get hurt myself, I don't want the other person to take me the wrong way and get mad, and maybe I don't feel safe enough emotionally to confront the person. Sadly, this creates barriers in the communication. We find ourselves not communicating about a lot more things than just the situation that disappointed us in the first place. Lysa TerKeurst, my now good friend (in purely "I love reading her books and she speaks to me through them and that's why she's my friend" kind of way) in Unglued stated,
"Barriers shut down communication. When you determine people aren't safe, you label them with words such as demanding, irresponsible, volitile, selfish, and defensive. No matter what they do or don't do, this barrier label is the filter through which you process EVERYTHING about them... the other person is unaware so everything confuses them" (italics mine, 84).
I have learned that facing the conflict is the only way to go. Bust down the barriers with your friends and family and start working on building an open and honest relationship that fosters feeling emotionally safe to share with one another. I've learned the best way to do this is by doing a little preperation, not just winging a conversation. Let me offer a few suggestions.
1. Begin by thinking about what your expectations are. What are your expectations of the other person? What are your expectations of yourself in the relationship? What are your expectations of what the relationship should look like and how your roles are determined? Sometimes thinking about what you want out of the relationship or situation helps to bring expectations to light.
2. Are your expectations realistic or unrealistic? If you are anything like me, you might be really good at convincing yourself they are all realistic, so it might not be a bad idea to bounce them off of someone you trust to get their opinion.
3. Identify how you are feeling. This is going to help you express yourself better if you figure this out before you have the conversation. Your feelings are real, but they might not be valid. Feelings are NOT facts so allow the other person to have a say in what they MEANT to make you feel like, but you may have interpreted incorrectly.
4. Identify what you want. Hopefully, this is the part where solutions come into play. Maybe expressing expectations to the other person is what needs to be done or just expressing how something they did made you feel. Try to be open to them about what you want and be open to their suggestions as well.
5. Take into consideration that it might not work out. Some people we just weren't meant to have deeper relationships with even though we keep beating our heads against a wall to make it happen. Give yourself a break. Sometimes relationships just need a break too. (Now, if its a committed relationship, this is when backup needs to be called in. I'm definitely an advocate for marriage so don't take this the wrong way. I'm more meaning friendships and not commited, licensed signed type relationships)
Break down the barriers, and start creating healthy boundaries instead. Boundaries equal honest transperency while barriers equal walls built without honesty and are rather created because of fear and lack of hard work... oh Lysa T. how your words resound with me.
Rachael Kool, professional counselor and normal, everyday adult screw up