The Revelation of Disappointment

“I am disappointed in you.”

Who hasn’t heard or said this phrase countless times throughout the years?
A sentence meant to express disapproval and, to a degree, sadness, while looking at the actions (or lack thereof) of another.

It’s been a busy couple of days for me, but interesting nonetheless. Certain encounters kicked my thought process into gear – and I am thankful for that.

A couple of days ago, I witnessed a conversation between two friends, strangers to me. One stated how ‘disappointed’ she was of the other’s actions. As a reaction, the other looked down in shame, no words offered in return.
This got me thinking.

What does disappointment really mean?

appoint [əˈpɔɪnt]

1.(also intr) to assign officially, as for a position, responsibility, etc.
2. to establish by agreement or decree; fix
3. to prescribe or ordain
4. (Law) Property law to nominate (a person), under a power granted in a deed or will, to take an interest in property
5. to equip with necessary or usual features

Once we encounter a person, we push them into a certain category in our minds. First impressions matter, although categories can be switched the more we get to know the person. We rubber-stamp former strangers with our impressions.
To some people, we get attached. We start to care, while others fade into the background of our catalogue. We grow fond of them, maybe even start to love them.

Now let’s say Sassy Sandy (whom we care about) does something totally unexpected and – to our limited views – wrong. We cannot understand the cause of this action, for we expected Sassy Sandy to behave differently.
We end up feeling disappointed and let down.
Sometimes, we express our disappointment – and, if the person the disappointment was aimed at cares for us as well, we rob them of their energy.

When it comes to others, we are always led by our emotions – and sometimes our minds seem to be on a very short leash. It is almost impossible to be objective when it comes to human behavior – after all, humans are not objects.

To be disappointed really means we replace our current view of the person with another. We catch a glimpse of their character through their actions we weren’t aware of – and it is up to us to weigh the new options this reveals.
We simply replace one truth (the truth we chose to believe) with another (the truth that was unexpectedly revealed to us). This means we get to know the person even better; we get to see another character trait.
We might not like what we see, but this truth we just found is only one more puzzle piece added to the great picture of that person’s personality.

Should we really combine the revelation of truth with negative feelings?
I will keep this in mind the next time disappointment sneaks up on me.