I Disappoint People
I disappoint people.
I REALLY disappoint people. Sometimes I feel like A SUPER BIG DISAPPOINTMENT. Sometimes I really let people down. Piss people off. People feel hurt and misunderstood by me. It used to feel like death to me when I let people down. I LITERALLY wanted to die. Over something as simple as messing up the flavor of ice cream they asked me to pick up for them. The thought of not getting it perfect made my knees shake and my gut rot.
Over time, I learned it’s not that I am a disappointment, it’s that I disappoint people sometimes. There is a huge difference between telling myself that I am a disappointment and reminding myself that I do things that can be disappointing. This gives me a different perspective and shifts it from it feeling like all of who I am to seeing this isn’t all of me, it’s part of what we all do as humans.
Sometimes I disappoint people in bigger ways - not being able to be fully there for them when they need because I’m tending to my own emotions. I say something flippant and really miss the mark. I inevitably misunderstand someone or they feel “missed” when I’m teaching or coaching and I don’t catch it and then it boils.
I used to get defensive about it. I used to avoid it and run and hide and make up excuses or blame others. Or blame the trauma I’ve experienced in my life. Or, spin it back at them. None of that felt good in my body though. It felt seedy and sneaky and out of alignment with my highest ethics around honesty, kindness and care.
The most CHALLENGING thing I’ve ever done is is to breathe in the fire of the pain of knowing I’ve let someone down and allow it to touch me to my bones and see that I can live through it and I’m still lovable. To ask myself truly “what do I have to learn here?” And “How can I grow from this?” And “How can feeling this and taking responsibility for it (if responsibility is to be taken) actually bring me closer to myself and closer to them?”
By shifting the focus from protecting myself towards genuinely trying to understand, “get" the other’s experience and feel myself in their shoes, my whole orientation changes from self-preservation towards connection and presence. It shifts from past wounds to present moment experience. It shifts from ego to generosity.
For some of us, this is WAY harder than for others, given the insecurities and wounds and traumas we come from. It can be very overwhelming to the system to soften ourselves enough to allow others to see our humanness. We’re messy. We make mistakes. Some people didn’t get that option in their families of origin or other relationships - maybe they were heavily criticized or compared or even hurt if they weren’t doing their best to be perfect in every way.
That’s why we have to create loving and safe relationships with ourselves in order to be able to let ourselves in to our humanness and let others in too. As I said… for some of us… it feels like death. Like we could be abandoned or rejected or betrayed if we disappoint someone.
I remember once I left some feedback for a retreat teacher that was very direct but true and the next day saw a FB post about how no matter what anyone says she knows she’s amazing so it’s just a bunch of people projecting stuff onto her. That’s one way to look at it, sure. But where’s the learning? Where’s the connection? Where’s the responsibility? It’s both. We have to be resilient enough to receive the feedback and clear enough to know what’s ours and what’s others. But to dismiss it all is such a disservice to our learning, our growth and our connectivity.
I have to say… it can sometimes be excruciatingly uncomfortable to sit with the discomfort of feeling like I was wrong in some way. I try to not make it mean that I am fundamentally wrong or broken in some way. It was an unfortunate moment where I wasn’t able to care for someone in the way they needed and it’s painful but doesn’t mean I’m a horrible person. It’s something I did, not who I am. Remembering that helps me face whatever it is with some curiosity and care and ability to try to understand what I missed. Because how many times in my life have I tried it the other way and just felt distance grow? These days I’m trying something different and while it doesn’t always have the outcome I want, it feels WAY better in my body and my heart. Responding instead of reacting… it takes some mindfulness. It takes the genuine desire to connect, over protecting myself or needing to be “right”.
It’s humbling. It’s scary sometimes. But in the end… it feels like the best way to feel proud of myself, and feel I did what I could to honor the relationship and honor my highest intentions for myself.
And it’s very important to note to not try to be perfect in practicing this! For me… it’s still so new that I am pretty messy at it in my personal relationships so I always remember to come back to… “I’m trying something different here… give it time… I will learn” as much as I can.
This week, pay attention to the places where you find yourself either avoiding disappointing people or if you have disappointed someone watch how you’re coping with it. Try admitting to yourself in whatever way feels empowering to you that “I disappointed someone… and that’s OK… and I love you… and you’re safe with me.” Try talking to yourself with kindness and care instead of ignoring what happened or beating yourself up. It’s ok to disappoint people and let them down. As soon as you allow yourself to feel it, the sooner you can come back to connection to yourself and others and realize… YOU LIVED THROUGH IT!
I'd love to hear from you! Let me know what experiences you have with this in your own life. I’m so curious! As always, thank you so much for sharing these parts of your lives with me.