How to Grow from Disappointment

Head in HandsIf we want to live extraordinary lives, you and me, if we aspire to be pioneers, to say the things that have never been said before, to do the things that have never been done before, to imagine things that have never been imagined before, we are in the same breath opening ourselves up to the possibility of disappointment.  Think of the actual pioneers who made their way from the East Coast to the West in America.  Snakes, drought, dysentery, extreme water conditions, they must have suffered a lot more disappointment than success.  But now they are all living in Beverly Hills driving fancy cars and living the good life.

If you go get a job at the bank, get a regular paycheck, marry someone sweet and cozy, get a sensible house and a sensible car, with lots and lots of insurance, it is possible to create the appearance of security, to take steps to protect yourself against disappointment.  But it may also be a protection against any kind of inspiration, of breaking the mold, of being a pioneer. 

Since being a pioneer and integrating disappointment go hand in hand, its wise to know how to be with it when it arises.  Disappointment always takes us by surprise, now matter how much practice we get, it knocks the stuffing out of us every time.   I’ve had my fair share of it myself.  I’d love the whole world to wake up to our true potential tomorrow.  I’d love for more people to know about the work I do in the world: Awakening Coaching, and the miracles it creates in people’s lives.  I get disappointed by how much attention goes to meaningless things on social media, while the important things get ignored.

Here are a few tips I have learned along the way about dealing with disappointment.

One. Come back as quickly as you can to the body.  
Disappointment and rejection are frequencies in the body.  They have a message for us, they can be a miniature dark night of the soul, which always carries redemption on the other side.  You can let yourself be washed clean of illusion in the waters of disappointment.  When you are immersed in that darkness and hopelessness it brings you more and more stably into yourself and into sanity.

Two. Assume an Evolutionary Opportunity.
When something happens that is not what you had expected, not what you had planned for, its wise to assume that that there is some kind of evolutionary opportunity in it for you, something to learn. Assume that this disappointment has occurred for your benefit, so you can grow even faster, and then take action based upon that assumption. Reach out in some way that welcomes the opportunity to grow.

Here is a personal example. I am going through a transition of management within Awakening Coaching.  The man I have been working with has been doing a great job, and now he has some other dreams he wants to follow.  Just as he decided to move in a different direction, a highly qualified leader emerged to lead the company.  He had led multi-million dollar companies for decades, and he was attracted to what we are doing.  So we went into a slow dance for three months.  He took our training, we met in person regularly for walk and dialogue. Finally he said,  “You know, I’ve really been feeling into this. I’m getting a little older, and  I’ve had some health challenges lately.   I am concerned that taking on a company with this much going on, and this much potential for growth is too stressful for me. I need to step aside.”

Of course I accepted his decision immediately.  Taking care of ourselves and those close to us must always be the top priority.  But I did feel left in a vacuum.  I felt terrible.  Like all the energy had been sucked out of my body.   

In a moment like this, you cannot take the next step immediately. There is a period of shock you go through.  But later that day I called my good friend Saniel Bonder.  I told him what had happened.  “It must be an opportunity to grow in some way,” I said. “It must be that life is showing me something I need to learn. Who do you think could help me learn the lesson from this?” He mentioned the name of a coach.  That very same day I called the guy. We had quite a dialogue about Awakening Coaching as an organization, and we agreed to enter into a one-year coaching relationship. He absolutely knows how to guide me to get the support I need. That disappointment turned out to be very fruitful. It gave me the impetus I needed to get help in a way that I would never have thought about otherwise.  

That is just a little example, but it is one you can extrapolate easily for your own life.   If you get rejected in love, for example, it can be very  disappointing, devastating.  But it could be the perfect opportunity to get support to discover the habits in relationship that sabotage love.

Three.  Open to an Intelligence Beyond the Mind
The_Creation_of_Adam_by_Michaelangelo_from_the_ceiling_of_the_Sistine_Chapel_CNA500x320_Vatican_Catholic_News_10_31_12You can ask a friend for help and feedback, as I did.  But there is other help for you as well.  
Later that night, when I went to bed, I could still feel the disappointment energy. So I called out for help from forces beyond my own understanding. I asked for help from the intelligence, the benevolence, the orderliness that structures the universe. People sometimes call that “the divine,” or “God” or you can call it “your expanded self.”   A challenge like this can snap you out of the arrogance of thinking “I know how to run my life, I have it all under control,” and refer you back to the simplicity of grace. It is intelligent to realize “I am a tiny ant, busy carrying little bread crumbs around, but I have no idea about the bigger picture.”  We are more open to Grace in moments of defeat than in moments of triumph.

Four. Allow yourself to Grieve your loss.
When we have a disappointment, there is a natural tendency to withdraw, to become deflated.  It is easy to want to jolly ourselves out of that, and other people will try to cheer you up too. When you have a disappointment or a shock I have found that it is very smart to allow this withdrawal to happen.
When somebody dies, we understand that grieving is important, and that you need a period of mourning. It is just the same when any project or dream dies, or an opportunity or a working relationship.  We can know when that grieving is finished not because we bounce back full of enthusiasm again, but because we return to an emotional flow. At first you might cry, or feel a tenderness.  Colors seems suddenly brighter again, smells become more vivid.  Then you know that it is time to step back into the sandbox. 

Five.  Hold others as Blameless.
When something goes wrong for us, it is common and natural to want to blame other people, even to get angry.  We may feel that we wasted our time, that we were led astray.   After that exploration fell through around running my company, I called him back a few days later.  I thanked him for considering working with me. For giving so much of his time.  We found new ways to be friends and to stay in touch.  To be open to new possibilities, we have to relax the blame reflex, and return to gratitude. Gratitude is the soil that allows new and wonderful things to happen.

We can so easily define our lives through our successes: by the books we write, and the amazing people we know, by the money we make and the peaks we climb.  I have come to discover that the quality of my life is better defined by how I deal with disappointment, and how I can use the valleys as well as the peaks to live a rich life.


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6 Responses to “How to Grow from Disappointment”

  1. Susanne May 15, 2014 at 5:33 am // Reply

    Dear Arjuna,

    thank you so much for this article! Last night my partner shared with me her questions about our relationship and I was really shoked and disapointed. We plan to marry this summer and now I am not sure, if we will do it…After a sleepness night with a lot of emotional highways I finally asked for help from the spirits and found your text full of wisdom. Going back in my body and opening for the gift of this challenge is a new way to deal with it…So thank you for sharing and have a nice day at the edge of your river,
    Susanne Probst


  2. Agatha Theisen May 15, 2014 at 8:32 am // Reply

    Dear Arjuna,
    yes, it’s so true what you wrote about dealing with disappointment, Arjuna.It “made” me feeling more awake and warm hearted. Thank you for sharing. Agatha


  3. Monique May 15, 2014 at 10:11 am // Reply

    Thank you Arjuna, this was just what I needed. Your tips are not unknown to me but I tend to forget them and need to be remembered sometimes. Especially the holding of others as blameless, and I mean not only rationally but from the heart, is not a natural thing to do and requires some practice. I am working on it!


  4. Mary May 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm // Reply

    Thank-you Arjuna for sharing from your heart with such Wisdom. You consistently teach with integrity on the real human challenges we all have learning to grow into and flow with Grace.

    There are a lot of voices vying today for the role of teacher in spiritual and metaphysical circles. It’s big business. Your voice always rings true.



  5. E May 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm // Reply

    Thank you for your sound vibration and true voice, and for your wonderful words of Love.


  6. Joseph Robinson May 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm // Reply

    Excellent Post.

    “We are more open to Grace in moments of defeat than in moments of triumph.”

    That is so true. From failed relationships to business challenges and life challenges at all levels; one can find themselves overwhelmed with it all.

    Many of us have the urge to be helpful and we particularly find disappointment while we are trying to make a difference to be deeply frustrating.

    As I progress on my mission of helping evolve consciousness, I found your points very useful.

    Evolutionary Exchange
    Beyond Mind – Awareness of Intelligence.

    I might summarize this to say as we grow more Resilient we can address our frustrations and challenges with greater ease.

    Resilience for me is a kind of remembrance of who we really are: Timeless, infinite, connected.

    Awakening is a special gift I honor daily where I have my greatest realizations of Grace and it sets my heart to be its most resilient.

    For me, today, it is was looking at a stack of bills and the small bank balance.

    Inspiration for divine development indeed.


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