Disappointment: “The feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations.”
To me, disappointment is a sickness. I literally feel sick to my stomach when my expectations are not met – especially when I have put much effort into a situation and fall short. Through many bouts of disappointment, I’ve come to figure out the cure. The cure for the sickness of disappointment is love, love, and more love.
Those who deal with youth on a regular basis know that disappointment is inevitable. But with this antidote of love there is hope! But even this love serum must be mixed the right way. My recipe consists of a dash of firmness, a pool of patience, and a whole lot of humility. When I deal with young people I am firm in the enforcement and reinforcement of the rules, patient in their growth, and humble in my approach. Those are my intentions, but it doesn’t always work out that way! I have had many altercations in which students test this formula. One that stands out the most is when I kicked a student out of one of our boy’s groups. To the school community, this student was “hard’. He was stubborn, a “know it all” and disrespectful to authority. That day he came to the group on time, but decided to leave. As he was leaving I reminded him of the rule that we had: there are no in and out privileges. You must make a decision and stick to it. He left and tried to come back near the end of the session while we were eating. I asked him to leave. He acted like he didn’t hear me. I reminded him of what I told him earlier that day. He chose to leave so he was not welcome to come back. Our voices raised in volume as we both moved to the hall. By the end of the discussion, I told him that he left us and in turn we didn’t want him there. That night as I reflected on the session I realized that I didn’t do a good job of putting together my recipe. I gave myself an A+ on being firm and sticking to the rules; however, I gave myself an F- for patience and humility. I felt disrespected, but let that turn into a secondary emotion – anger, which guided my “offside” behaviour.
The next week I saw him in the hall. I went up to him and asked if we could talk. I apologized for my behavior and explained that I had very high expectations for him because I see the way he influences others and see him as a great leader. I get really frustrated when those expectations are not met, because we just want the best for him. I invited him back to the group and I told him that he was welcome every week and I would save a plate of food for him that day.
He came to the session. During the session I called him out and apologized to him in front of the class. I reiterated my expectations speech letting them know that we see greatness in them and it is frustrating when they don’t live up to it; however, we won’t put them down when they don’t make the mark. Neither will we lower the bar. Rather, we will accept them for who they are and where they are at this point in their life providing them with more knowledge, resources, and support to get the job done. As I looked into their watery eyes, it was obvious that this was the first time many of them ever heard that.
We can become disappointed in many things: others, ourselves, the Raptors getting swept in the second round of the playoffs. If we are not careful, this disappointment can easily throw us into a negative downward spiral of anger, depression and other negative feelings. How do we overcome? How do we help our youth overcome? Love. Love God, love yourself, love others, love your team. Keep love flowing; it is the cure for your disappointment!