By: John Wittry
Too often I make more of something than it is.
Recently I was with a client who shared a story with me about how he disappointed someone. Then he shared another one. This went on for a bit. Following all this he said “I’m a disappointment”. It was full of gravity and he said it from his heart. Between his words and his energy, he made it sound as if it was his identity. “Hi, I’m Bob (not his real name) and I’m a disappointment.”
I responded to this simply, “wow, it sounds like you disappointed some people.” His response, “yes, I’m a disappointment.” To which I said, “yes, it sounds like they were disappointed.” Again his response, “yes, I’m a disappointment”. To which I said, “you aren’t hearing me.”
In life, I will disappoint people. They will have expectations, large and small that I won’t live up to and I will disappoint people. At a level, I have a part to play in that. And where I can, I should be accountable if it truly represents a broken agreement and clean it up. (See future blog post on Agreements vs. Expectations)
And in life, people will be disappointed. People are that way. They have uncommunicated expectations and when they aren’t met, they choose to be disappointed. I didn’t have a part to play in that. It’s not mine.
And I’m not sure I know anyone who is a disappointment (or if it is even possible). It isn’t an identity and I don’t know of an example where it is the truth. Yes, they disappointed someone. Yes, they know people who are disappointed. And that doesn’t make them a disappointment.
Creating a false identity like “I’m a disappointment” is limiting and a form of being a victim.
My clients homework is to discredit his statement. List all of the times you aren’t a disappointment. List all of the people you know who aren’t disappointed. Separate disappointment from who you are, from your identity. Discredit that voice in your head that chats away about your being a disappointment.
You aren’t a disappointment. You may have disappointed someone – own your part in it and clean it up. You know people who are disappointed – that’s their choice and not in your control. Move on. Be conscious not to create an internal identity from external circumstances. Don’t make more of something than it is.