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This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Monday, November 8, 2010


  Unfinished Business, follow-up post

 Amongst my many books and papers on  psychology, I have a page with a seemingly exhaustive list of words which identify various human feelings.  It is called Feeling Words and is published by Marriage Encounter.  There are 264 words for feelings here and yet nowhere does the word disappointment appear.  How did the compiler of this list miss that?  I certainly experience that as a feeling, don 't you?  I propose that this is one of the hardest states to recognize in oneself, much less express outwardly.
I rarely hear a client express this feeling and yet, I see people having it.  Recently I had a male patient in the office, devastated by what his young adult daughter was doing with her life.  Only in her very early twenties and, already she had done a little jail time for some dealing with illegal drugs.  The family saw her through that and hoped for a fresh start for her.  Now, he was reporting that she had involved herself with a young man who was conducting some shady business.  This distraught gentleman said to me with great anguish again and again how angry he was.  As I witnessed his pain and listened to his story and his declarations, I saw that he was profoundly disappointed.  And so, I said to him that I hadn't heard him say one feeling which he seemed to be having---disappointment.  The tears came.

I find that most people share but two feelings, anger and depression.  And, yet, here I have a list of 264 feeling words.  Something is missing here.
Children feel disappointment:  Imagine the little girl who believes in Santa Claus and has spotted a doll that she so dearly wants for Christmas.   A box appears under the tree that is just the right size for that doll.  She is sure it will be there, in that box, on Christmas morning.  The big day arrives, she hurriedly opens the box and, inside, is a xylophone.
When I was a teenager, my English class teacher had us do a spontaneous writing assignment, in class.  I wrote a story about an adolescent struggling with the temptation to smoke cigarettes.  It was an excellent story I thought, and I was proud of it.  My teacher accused me of plagiarism.   I felt a number of things---confused, surprised, outraged but also in there was, disappointment.  You may have noticed how very (maybe overly) careful I am to always credit other writers or speakers whom  I quote or reference in the blog.  I may be still smarting from that unjust accusation after all these years...   However,---as you can see, I never gave up on my writing!

Some disappointments may run deep and be very serious such as a long-term relationship that has never been able to provide the emotional intimacy that one of the partners wishes for.  Perhaps a person works hard all her life but just isn't lucky and always has a financial struggle despite her efforts.
Daily, little disappointments such as, the doughnut shop not having our favorite that day, can readily be absorbed.  But  the larger disappointments need attention.  As you can see from my case example (the gentleman with the young twenties daughter), the first and apparently quite difficult step, is to notice the feeling and identify it.  It should then be attended to in some way.  Do what you can for yourself.  Make up for it if possible.  Comfort yourself.  Share the feeling with a sympathetic person.  Read the post titled, Not a Formula.  But, as discussed in Unfinished Business, do not stuff it.

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