I've been working through the exercises in a workbook by Cheri Huber called, "How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything." (This is, by the way, an absolutely wonderful workbook that really stimulates self-reflection in a way that is quite different from anything else I've ever seen). One of the exercises asks, "How do you get disappointed?" It goes on to ask you to try to identify the process of disappointment. Here's what I wrote:
The Process of Disappointment:
1. Pre-Existing Mental States:
Desire (ego mindset): Desire for a certain thing to happen
Attachment: Attachment to a specific outcome
Expectation: Expect a certain thing to happen/expect people to behave a certain way
(Assumption = people should always behave in a kind and respectful manner)
2. Event Occurs:
Outcome is not what is desired or expected
3. Ego Injury:
Thoughts contributing to disappointment/ego injury:
*He should...[do a certain thing or know better than to do something, etc.]
*She shouldn't...[act that way, treat me that way, etc.]
*He/she did this to me on purpose.
*Why me? [In life, everyone experiences pain and bad things happen to everyone. Why would one person be exempt from this? The real question is "Why not me?"]
*I should've known better. It's my fault.
*This isn't fair.
*This shouldn't be happening to me.
*I won't let this happent to me again. [This triggers defensiveness].
Here's the thing. People don't always behave how we think they should. Despite our best efforts things don't always turn out as planned. Bad things happen to everyone -- no one is exempt from this. It is natural to feel disappointment (or any other emotion). We do not, however, have to get stuck there. The thoughts listed above are unhelpful and inaccurate perceptions of reality. We can begin to recognize the thoughts, assumptions, and/or beliefs we have about ourselves, about other people, and about the world that contribute to our suffering. Then we can ask ourselves what it takes for us to let these go.