I think we’ve all had the experience of failing to fulfill the hopes of someone in our lives – or when others fail to fulfill our hopes of — or for — them. The feelings that come up when our expectations have been disappointed can range from discouragement to distress to disillusionment. The original meaning is from Old French and has to do with depriving someone of a position. There’s been a lot of dis-appointing in our federal government recently.
At it’s heart, disappointment has to do with our expectations, and our expectations can be dangerous – to ourselves and to others.
What we see first is the person, covered in a black cape, with their head bowed. They are staring at the three spilled cups – often seen as blood, sweat, and tears and all the effort and emotions that have gone into developing an expectation. Sometimes of ourselves, more often of others.
I recently joined the board of a local arts organization. As the new person, not yet entangled in the personalities and politics of any organization that includes more than one person, I could see the metaphorical spilled cups everywhere. They’ve gone through some hard times and I am deeply impressed at how they continue to survive despite the challenges. They’ve all put in blood, sweat, and tears into this organization and some of that came out in today’s discussion.
They all have expectations of what should have been, what should be, and what could be. And they are each standing alone staring at their spilled cups. Here’s what they’ve forgotten – the same as the rest of us when we put our expectations out without continually checking back into reality to see what needs to be adjusted – they’ve forgotten there are two more cups.
All is not lost. There is still a place to pour their passion, their hope, their desire to benefit the community. And even better, a bridge awaits them not too far away so they can again immerse themselves back into the community to receive the support, validation, and celebration for the work they’re doing.
When we see the Five of Cups – we’re offered the opportunity to acknowledge the disappointment and all its associated thoughts and feelings. We’re reminded that there’s still a space for us to go on in a more thoughtful way, and that we can return to the support of our community when the tide of the disappointment has run out.
In a situation where you’ve recently felt disappointment, ask yourself – what were my expectations? How might I have adjusted those expectations if I had been more willing to accept the reality of what was going on? And use that information for other situations in your life – now or into the future.
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