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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean


In all my meaningful, intimate relationships, I inevitably disappoint everyone at some point; my partner, family, and friends have all been disappointed in relationship to me. Navigating the territory of disappointment is a true yoga that requires quite a lot of awareness, tenderness and compassion.

Disappointing another can be incredibly challenging, especially because my role in early relationships was to set aside my own needs for those of another, especially my mother. Caring for her was the way I learned I might receive at least some appreciation or acknowledgement . . . while hoping for love and attention, I would settle for not being ignored. What has been your experience of disappointing someone you are close to? How does it feel to know you have let them down? That you can’t save them? That you could be doing more to care for their unlived life?

How does it feel to be unable to mend their broken heart? What does it mean about you if they want from you something you cannot provide? What are the consequences of disappointing them? Of being unable to “make them happy” or remove their anxiety, meaninglessness, or uncertainty? Will you be abandoned if you disappoint them? Will you be the target of rage and judgment? Will you be shamed? Are you unsafe? Should you just go ahead and try to make them feel better at all costs, even if its detrimental to your own self? What are the feelings and emotional conclusions that arise in the wake of letting another down, when you aren't able to help them, see them, and be there for them in the way they need, in a given moment? When no matter how hard you try, they feel that you have misunderstood and let them down. I have been conditioned to believe I am supposed to meet the anxiety, heartbreak, phobias, and symptoms of others in a way that is consistently helpful, empathic, and supportive. I am supposed to say insightful things; Give wise advice; Fix them; Cure them; Heal them; Make it all go away. What about you??

What if I fail . . . What if YOU fail . . . and the other becomes disappointed? What does it mean about us as humans (and healers) if we are not helping or healing, but instead, disappointing?

Hmmm . . . a very rich inner inquiry.

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