“Although disappointment feels awful, it can provide you with a wealth of valuable information about yourself and your world. Its purpose is to keep you moving toward what’s beneficial and away from what’s going to come back and bite you. It’s meant to teach you how to make realistic, well-informed choices by recognizing the delicate balance between what you have power over and what you don’t. Examining disappointment with an open mind will help you distinguish between being foolhardy, childish or demanding, and courageous, generous and willing to take appropriate risks. In short, it’s there to help you get the good things you deserve.”
Karen R. Koenig, The Food & Feelings Workbook
“Examining disappointment with an open mind” is the phrase that jumps out at me in this quote. We’re often so busy trying to escape disappointment we don’t stop to think that it might have something to teach us.
Let’s take dieting, for example. When you’ve tried many different diets, you experience disappointment after disappointment. Rather than exploring your disappointment, you immediately blame yourself and then turn to food to detach from the emotional pain of yet another failure.
However, if you were to examine your disappointment with an open mind you might stop and think “I’ve tried so many diets but they always end up with me putting on the weight I’ve lost. I’m constantly disappointed. This just isn’t working”.
You might then wonder about the failure rate of diets, start exploring the large body of research into why they don’t work and, oh I don’t know, maybe follow a blog about having a peaceful relationship with food. 😊
You would then be able to see that expecting yourself to succeed at something that largely doesn’t work was always unrealistic.
Examining disappointment in recovery from your eating issues is vital. Disappointment can be a sign that your expectations are unrealistic here too. Have you assumed it would be easier than it is? Do you believe you should have cracked it by now? Do you think you can resolve your issues with food whilst bypassing your feelings and your relationship with yourself?
These are important questions to ask yourself – and the learning comes from your disappointment.
Rather than triggering hopelessness, disappointment can teach us so much if we allow it. We just need to understand its purpose and, as Karen Koenig says, learn to examine it with an open mind.