Academia / DNMP Unplugged / Faith & Religion / Growing Pains / Life of A Scholar / Relationships

In Focusing on Only What I Can Control I Have To Deal with Handling Disappointment

So one of my goals for 2012, frankly this is a rollover from 2011 really, is to stay focused on what I can control.

Basically, I can’t control other people not my friends, not my family, not my teachers, not my classmates and colleagues but I CAN control what I do: how I study, how I support my family and friends. And this sentiment/perspective has helped me a lot in the last year. I have made more requests based on my needs instead of not making requests based on my fear around how my requests would be perceived and as an extension cause myself more stress. Making of these requests is actually an extension of the above goal — to do what I feel I need to do to remain healthy, wealthy and wise (obviously within reason and legality).

Though I have enjoyed my new perspective and feel better because I have asked more for the things I need and I have reached out to more people asking for help, one thing that has been hard is dealing with the disappointment of people, in most cases that I knew would disappointment me, when making these requests. Receiving no answers to my requests kinda takes me back to the place of worry, frustration and disappointment that has caused so many delays in the last four years. Especially, when I feel these answers reflect a person not working within their job description in terms of their relationship to me.

It also makes me think, “why am I doing this?” Luckily, I have a bigger picture reason to be where I am and I also can, “look to the hills from which cometh my help and know that my help comes from Him.” But even this doesn’t stop my human/flesh feelings of frustration and disappointment. In fact it basically re-affirms my old policy of just not letting people in and trying to do things on my own; which isn’t the solution.

Anyway, moving away from the raw feelings I have in these moments (I had one recently if you can’t tell from my tone), one solution I do have that has been working is seeking new help and pushing past the disappointment that stems from my expectation that I shouldn’t have to do this or that. Because at the end of the day, I don’t have power to change what should or shouldn’t be done in some of my family, friend and school/work relationships BUT I do have power to find new avenues to receive what I need to be successful.

In the last year or so alone, I have sought after new friendships and worked to gain new perspective on overlooked potential friendships around me. I have also sought out new and old mentors when it comes to school/work.

All these moves have bearing good fruit for me but I’m an idealist and I always want to help and I still think sometimes that I can get a new result from some of the people around me who have disappointed me in the past and have not shown any signs of changing. I also want to fix things as I go so that others do not have to go through the same disappointment, drama and frustration that I had to. Additionally, I go back to these situations not because I want to but because I have to because I am in the systems I am in for now and to protect myself I feel I have to say well I did reach out to person A or department Z and still look what happened (basically a protection mechanism to say that I did what I was supposed to do).

The other tip on dealing with disappointment that I am still learning how to really manifest is using my undesirable temporary situation as motivation to do what I need to do to move on. I remember one moment, I think it was my second year of graduate school, I was so frustrated with my experience that I thought hard about why was I doing what I was doing and then I remembered my research (that looks to female political elites in Latin America) and I remembered a video I received during my last research trip to the Dominican Republic and I put it in to watch. Watching that video and seeing the barriers and the work that is going on to increase the number of women in politics there was just the boost I needed to deal with the current “stuff” I was dealing with and push forward. Writing that sentence reminds of a sermon a pastor at my church taught where he basically said that the manure (mess) of my life is like fertilizer…though it stinks it actually helps to make me stronger. 

To sum up this post and offer some assistance and encouragement to those reading this post, even when you focus on what only you can control (your interactions with people, your work, your prayers and your constructive critiques etc) the disappointment will still come as people are people — imperfect and disappointment prone creatures. However, if you work to focus back as quickly as you can to what you can control, reach out to new people to become part of your needed support systems while remembering your big picture and the Higher Power you can get back to keeping the main thing the main thing as Steven Covey says in all of your relationships.
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2 thoughts on “In Focusing on Only What I Can Control I Have To Deal with Handling Disappointment

  1. I have learned that disappointment is directly tied to expectation.

    If we request something from someone with the expectation that they will respond as we wish (because they love us, because they can, because we need it… whatever reason we expect this from them), we open ourselves to the possibility that our expectation will not be met… Hence, disappointment.

    The trick is learning that we have no right to expect anything of others. We can wish it, we can hope for it… but what another offers to us of their time, energy & resources is always their choice.

    This means learning how to request something with the full knowledge that the other is in no way obligated to respond positively, and if they do, it is a gift on their part.

    This is something that you can control! – much luck to you, it’s a really good goal.

    • Thanks for your comment! For me its moving away from my human nature reaction to the truth that I know which is reflected in your comments. I wrote this post to let off some steam but to also share with people that they aren’t alone :)

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