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Recovering from disappointment

Posted by Simon Parke, 18 April 2017, 4.26am

This blog started with a tweet.

‘When a disappointment arrives at your door, show it to the largest room you possess. It won’t appear so big there.’

So how does that work?

Sometimes life is difficult… almost unbearably so.

We feel let down or disappointed. Some hope is dashed, some dream punctured… and we have no defence against how we feel.

It hits us like a strong wave, we can be overwhelmed.

I remember once sitting paralysed for two hours, almost physically locked, when a publishing disappointment came my way.

I had no way to cope, no future, just heavy despair saturating my sinews…

…until slowly, my body could loosen and I could begin to consider it in some alternative way.

Yes, there does come a moment, sooner or later, when we receive the disappointment rather than rage at it, submit to its terror or push it away, pretending it’s of no consequence.

We receive it.

‘Hello, disappointment.’


We breathe deeply, we breathe into it, still leaden perhaps, but we breathe deeply…

...and feel the expanding space inside us and invite the disappointment in.

‘Hello, disappointment, back again?’

(This is probably not the first time it has smashed through our front door and dominated our home with its heavy presence.)

Steady breathing, deep and full, creates a space in which the disturbance diminishes in size.

It’s not quite the monster it appeared, either in size or ferocity.

‘You’re welcome but you cannot stay,’ we say.

(It may have stayed in the past.)

‘I have too much life to live,’ we say. ‘You are not my whole story; nothing is the end of my story.’

It’s there still, it can linger and return now and again… and prove quite shouty on occasion.

But it doesn’t fill the home now, blocking the window of light.

There’s room for other people, other adventures, room for peace.

And if we don’t cling to this disappointment as some special and defining friend, feeding it now and again to keep it strong… day it will leave for good.

And we’ll have our large room back, this wonderful space, with sunlight spilling across the floor.

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