Using Your Thoughts to Overcome Disappointments

Depression

Imagine if all of your life to present you were promised a prize. Let’s say that in order to gain access to this prize that there are certain things you have to accomplish, certain challenges you have to overcome.

So through great pains and effort, you take on the challenges and overcome them, one by one. Until after years of hard work, it came time for you to receive your prize, only to be told that there was never any prize.

This hypothetical scenario can easily be applied to any number of stories where people have been let down. For some people there is nothing more hurtful than investing into an experience with the expectation of a reward for your efforts only to be disappointed.

One of the chief feelings that gets in the way of getting past grief stemming from disappointment is the idea that you have been deceived, cheated or wasted your time and energy.

What if you came to learn that getting past disappointment is easier that you realize? When we experience disappointment, what keeps us emotionally stuck in the grief of disappointment is the context we use to frame the experience.

If you think back to the last time you struggled in getting past your grief from disappointment, you will probably agree it’s because you invested a lot of time in the experience, with the expectation of an outcome, and because you believed that the route you took to achieve the desired outcome was the “only” route you or any one could have taken to achieve the desired outcome. Furthermore you probably also believed that the desired outcome was the “ultimate” outcome you or anyone could ever archive to accomplish any a sense of happiness and fulfillment to varying degrees.

This linear style of thinking is what keeps us stuck in grieving what we believed could have been. Take for example, two months ago my son’s school threw a Halloween party, one of the highlights of the evening was walking through a haunted house. The school library had been converted into a haunted house and we got the thrill of going through a door, and traveling from one partitioned room to the next, while staff and students took turns in giving us their best fright, from hidden and unsuspecting places. The experience of traveling through the make shift haunted house was a linear experience from start to finish, because we transitioned from room A to room B to room C to room D before we finally existed the haunted house.

With this scenario in mind, imagine how frustrated it would have been if we entered room A, then went to room B only to be told that we could not gain  access to room C? This would mean that without accessing room C we would not be able to access room D. This is why people either get depressed or angry over their feelings of disappointment. They feel there is no other way to get to the next level and beyond, if their travel path has become blocked.

Here is a visual representation of my explanation of  a linear style of thinking;

linear thinking_01

Now imagine  thinking in a multi verse context. To further explain, I will share another story. In my village, my father’s immediate younger brother built a home on the other side of the street from my parent’s home. While my parents built a two story home, my uncle built a one story home, with roughly the same number of rooms as my parents’ two story home. How did he manage this? Rather than stack rooms one on top the other as my father had done, my uncle designed his house in a circular pattern. With a courtyard in the middle of the structure, surrounded by all the rooms of the home. This meant that from the courtyard, you could simply turn and walk towards any room of your choice, versus my parents’ home where you had enter the front door into a greeting room, into a hallway, into the stairway, etc. I would say that my parents’ home was linearish in design, while my uncle’s home was multi verse-ish in design.

Using the ABC model to represent the multi verse style of thinking, it would look something like this diagram.

Multi Verse Thinking_01

With multi verse thinking,  a set back or disappointment becomes an opportunity to embark on another experience. If a desired goal or outcome is not realized it is interpreted as there being another bigger and more fulfilling outcome waiting for you to define and realize. This means that the time spent in pursuing an outcome not realized is seen as experience gained to be used  as leverage for another challenge instead of time squandered.

When  we come to realize that our path to happiness and fulfillment comes from within, only then will we acknowledge that our thoughts do indeed create our realities.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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