Conscious Parenting 101: How to Deal with Disappointment
Oh, how I loathe disappointment! I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one, but it still needs to be said– at least for effect. My own issues with disappointment no doubt stem from a life that has been riddled with it from day one *dramatic sigh*. I especially hate disappointing my children. In a perfect world, I would do everything right and never disappoint my offspring. But that’s in an alternate world, one that I personally have never even been granted a visitor’s pass to.
In my travels down the road of parenting, I’ve definitely had my fair share of struggles when it comes to not letting my own trauma and drama affect the lives of my kids. There is such a difficult balance we have to find as parents when it comes to our children. On one hand, we want to be authentic about who we are, but on the other hand, we have to be careful not to put our crap on them. Sadly, healthy boundaries were not genetic in my own family tree, thus I’ve had to work extra hard to create a healthy balance when it comes to emotional boundaries with my brood.
So let’s circle back to the subject of disappointment, because of course, this whole thing is meant to have a point. Because I have faced so much disappointment as a child *another dramatic sigh*, I don’t always deal with conflict as well as I would like to. That isn’t to say I’m unable to handle any disappointments that come my way– it just seems mostly limited to the area of disappointing those who I love, or vice versa. Granted I have worked at it, but still, after all these years as a grownup, it’s amazing how quickly I can be transported back to being a child when it comes to the issue of disappointment.
As children, each of us develops a blueprint for how we will navigate our lives and how we will eventually face the various obstacles that come our way in life. Based on their life experiences, some people are simply more proficient at handling the disappointments that life throws their way than others. I am a believer that how we handle the disappointments in our lives is tied directly into our self-esteem.
If as children, our parents constantly disappointed us for whatever reasons, we may start programming our minds to believe that if we were loveable people, then our parents wouldn’t disappoint us. Naturally as children, our abilities of reasoning aren’t sophisticated enough to tell ourselves, “Hey, my parents obviously have problems that have nothing to do with me.” So we internalize the rejection and it becomes part of who we are— only to be reinforced with every new disappointment or rejection.
Controlling Anxiety over Disappointment
If we were faced with countless disappointments in our lives—it’s indeed true that in some ways it can make us stronger people, but when it comes to dealing with the actual pain that comes with the disappointment —it doesn’t necessarily make us wiser for it. Often, it can cause us to avoid conflict and let people run all over us and that is not a great feeling at all. In my own journey coming to grips with facing disappointment: one day the lightbulb went on and I suddenly realized that if I was ever going to take control of my anxiety about being disappointed and disappointing others, I was going to have to put on my big-girl panties and grow the hell up. Yes, this is a form of self-love; it’s called tough love.
I decided to stop being such a cry baby, and face up to this limitation within myself once and for all. I began to do a lot of soul searching, and one day it finally came down to one question: “If I disappoint my kids, are they really going to stop loving me?” I mean, this is what disappointment is about for those of us who have had to face more than our fair share. It is a constant and painful reminder that we are not loved or loveable, and we never feel stronger from the last one. They say that the truth will set you free. This was indeed the case for me the first time that I stood up against a disappointment with my children armed with all my new revelations, and a few minutes later I heard the words, “I love you mom.”
How do you handle life’s disappointments? Do you teach your kids to do the same? Share your thoughts with us.
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