Unmet Expectations: Exploring The Intersection of Disappointment and Dreams in Midlife

This episode we dive into the interplay of disappointment and how it relates to our capacity to envision and pursue our dreams, or create goals that excite us, during our middle years.


We explore the causes and feelings that arise from disappointment, highlighting the importance of recognizing and acknowledging these emotions without allowing them to diminish our self-worth – which can be a slippery slope!


Disappointment often stems from unmet expectations, both conscious and unconscious.


Meeting disappointment with acceptance and compassion can lead to personal growth and emotional resilience.


It’s worth considering that unintegrated disappointment can bring us to a place of rigidity and brittleness in midlife.


I believe it is important to have someone who can hold space for us and share our experiences, helping to alleviate any feelings of shame, which often arises with disappointment.


By embracing disappointments in this way, we can prevent disconnection from our dreams and goals and move forward with renewed courage and authentic confidence during this second stage of life.


Join me as we explore the complexities of disappointment and find strength to navigate through midlife with purpose and impact.


Topics Covered:
1. Introduction to disappointment and its intersection with our ability to dream and navigate midlife
– Causes and feelings associated with disappointment
– Patterns and reactions to disappointment

2. Unmet expectations as the root of disappointment
– Conscious and unconscious expectations
– Importance of feeling and acknowledging disappointment without lowering our self-worth

3. Benefits of disappointment
– Personal growth and emotional resilience
– Seeking someone to hold space and share experiences to minimize shame

4. Consequences of not integrating disappointment
– Brittleness and disconnection from dreams and goals
– Turning towards ourselves and seeking support to navigate disappointments

Full Episode Transcript

Hey my friends. Welcome to the podcast. This week I really wanna explore ideas, thoughts, feelings, experiences around disappointment, and.

How it intersects with our ability, capacity to dream, to carry on, dreaming big, dreaming, unreal, and particularly in our midlife. So let’s start with disappointment. Think about what disappointment means to you. What causes it? How does it feel? What are your thoughts about it? What are your patterns when disappointment arises?

Do you blame others? Do you blame life? Do you blame yourself? Does it, does it weigh heavily on your shoulders for months and even years after the experience? And for some of us, depending on the experience, it certainly can, disappointment for sure is about expectations that we might have had that haven’t been met.

And those expectations might have been very conscious. For example, in if I had a career goal and I was studying towards my career goal and I didn’t pass necessary milestones and I couldn’t continue with that, or disappointment might show up in our relationships when our partner is not. Behaving in a way that we subconsciously many times expect them to, they might be not fulfilling one side of the bargain that has never been negotiated consciously or verbally.

Very often our unconscious expectations come from our conditioning, what we expect from a partner, what we expect from ourselves. Beliefs around what a partner should do for us, what a relationship should look like, and we don’t talk about these things, but we have unconscious expectations that these will be fulfilled and when they’re not, disappointment arises.

But on a very simple level, we’ve had an expectation and that expectation has not been met. Now, we may have taken. Conscious, physical, outwardly manifesting steps towards that goal or that expectation, and then it has not been met, or the expectation may be for somebody else to provide the action or to come forward towards us.

Or it could just be in a broader sense that, you know, my life would work out this way by the time I was 45, I would’ve expected this sort of career, this sort of space where I’m living this sort of feeling within my body and this sort of social connections with other people. But if my life is not showing up that way, When I am 45, we then can be faced with disappointment and this can happen gradually, so disappointment can sneak up on us gradually and just sort of weigh us down over the years.

The thing I love about disappointment that I really wanna share is that it can actually nourish us. Nourish our souls and open us up to life rather than closing us down to life if we are willing to face our truth. Through that experience of disappointment, if we are willing to feel our feelings to experience and witness the unmet expectations, goals, dreams, and desires, and let ourselves swim in that for a period of time.

Not try and defend against it, push it away, blame it on others, but actually let ourselves really feel the feelings. And there’s a subtlety here because feeling the feelings does not have to mean that we let disappointment lower our self-worth crash, our self-confidence. We can actually separate those out.

We can grieve. An expectation or a goal that hasn’t happened and we can feel pretty shit about it, but we can create space so that the disappointment doesn’t start to lower our self-worth to chip away at our self-esteem. And I had a client recently who had this exciting opportunity come into her life and she got.

Partway through it, and then the opportunity, the work opportunity didn’t work out as she had planned or had been promised to her. And so naturally, of course, she was faced with feeling disappointment and just notice where we go to with that. So for me, it’s really common that I would have way more in the past than I do now, would have gone to, I did something wrong.

I’m not good enough. I’m bad. I’m never gonna succeed, so all about myself. You might have a personality where your brain turns to blame. They did it wrong. They effed up. They don’t understand me. It’s all their fault. You know, all those things our brain tells us. And when I was coaching with this client, we talked about letting herself feel the feelings of disappointment, letting herself open to the vulnerability that this brought up in her for a period of time.

But being very, very clear within herself that this is not an indicator that her worth is now any less than it was a week ago. That her confidence should, for any reason lower because of this experience or that this experience makes her a failure, because it doesn’t. So that beautiful balance of, it’s not a balance, it’s actually a dance.

That beautiful dance of being able to feel your feelings. Feel the disappointment, feel the vulnerability, the sadness, maybe even the shame that comes up with that and create space that you know that you have decided that this is not going to affect how you feel about yourself long term and what supports that.

Is a deeper awareness of ourself. You know, that we are eternal beings and this is a, a moment in time that I might. Probably likely learn from this experience that I will definitely grow emotionally from this experience, that this, even though I perceive this as a failure, I know that my success is made up of many, many failures because they are just steps along the way to my success.

You see how when we shift our perspective around the meaning of an event, We can let ourselves really feel the feelings, the uncomfortable, challenging feelings. But while we are allowing that to happen, we’re actually letting our soul, our sense of self expand and be nourished. This is not always easy to do by ourselves because very often shame shows up and shame in a vacuum grows.

Exponentially within us. What minimizes shame is sharing our experience, our feelings, and our thoughts with someone that can really hold space for us, witness our experience without trying to tell us how to fix it, without shutting us down, without invalidating our feelings. It’s not an easy thing to do, but.

You know when you’ve got that person that can hold space for you, that is so key and so nourishing for your heart, your soul, and your life. So what happens if we’re experiencing disappointment, but we’re not integrating it? So we’re boxing it up. We’re just leaving it over there. We’re ignoring it. We are blaming ourselves or someone else, but we’re not really feeling those vulnerable feelings for a period of time, and then moving on to our next goal, to our next task in life, to our next dream.

I think what happens for us over time is that unintegrated disappointment hardens us and somehow makes us more brittle. So I’m thinking about our hearts, our personality, how we show up in the world. There’s this sense that over time many disappointments un integrated rather than I. Opening us up, which is would be the integrated version of that, of processing the disappointment and then moving on and opening up to a greater expanded life.

Rather, what happens is when they’re not integrated is that we become more hardened, more brittle, less willing to reach out to life, and so then we find ourselves potentially in midlife, disconnected from our dreams. From goals for our intentions, for our life, and I’m not saying this in any way, for us to blame ourselves about that, if this is the situation that we find ourselves in, because all of our culture is set up for this to take place, right?

We’re not taught to feel our feelings. We’re not taught that every single failure is a step along the way to our success. We’re not even taught what success truly, really deeply on a soul level is. So when we find ourselves at this place in our midlife, where we’ve lost passion for the dreams and goals and intentions for our life, or we are feeling weighed down by disappointment after disappointment.

That we’re just not sure we’ve even got the energy to open up to something new. That is no way. Is that a time to blame yourself? Mm-hmm. Not at all. This is a time to come back to yourself, to turn towards ourself, to do an accounting of. What are those disappointments that have been unintegrated? And we may need to do that with someone like me, a coach, a helping professional.

It could be something that you do as a journal process for yourself, and then to really decide, but decide in terms of a, a loving process towards yourself that I am not going to let this. Series of disappointments or this one big disappointment that I have, let change the way I feel about myself, turn off the light of love that I have for myself.

I’m not going to let that continue anymore if I have to. I’m gonna feel those feelings. I’m gonna integrate that disappointment. I’m going to shed the brittleness. I’m going to unfreeze defrost. And from that place, We don’t necessarily have to seek those dreams in the second half of our life. It’s from that thought out place where it’s like your heart opens up, it reconnects to your soul self, or, or just an expanded sense of self, which could include service.

Creativity. It could include spirituality, it could include entrepreneurship, it could include helping professions. Whatever is lights, your fire starts to get reignited through this process, and this happens when I work with women over the arc of the work that we do together. It’s not always something that we come in to.

Coaching with a really distinct goal around, or have, you know, like an understanding of, oh, I think I’ve lost my passion for my dreams, or I’ve lost a connection for my desires and dreams for the second part of my life because I’m being weighed down by these disappointments that haven’t been integrated, that are just kind of sitting there encapsulated in all their brittleness.

We don’t really think like that, right? But as we start to unwind through the process of working together, what happens is that women start to open up to those dreams and desires and goals and in intentions, again, for their life. And I’ve just seen it so many, so many, so many times for clients. And it is something that I work on with myself.

If I’m feeling a bit stale or sort of hardened within myself, then I do some of that in a work where, where I look within, you know, where have I, and it might be around disappointment. It might be around recently for me, it’s been around feeling a little more disconnected. From community, just mainly because I’ve been working from home a whole lot more.

But it can also be from disappointments of things that haven’t worked out the way I wanted them to work out. And it’s not that we need to make it all pollyannaish or you know that saying that can drives me nuts. My dear mum used to say it and she used to say, oh, well it wasn’t meant to be then. And. Oh, I hated it.

I’m just trying to figure out why I hated it in this moment. And for me, why that used to gr my gears so much was because what I needed in that moment, and of course I’m not cross at mom about it. We all say these things and it’s our job as mothers to annoy our children. Right? Um, but for me that saying opposed what I really needed in that moment and what I needed in that moment was not for her to.

Collapse and be sad and pity me or the other was, oh, just wasn’t meant to be, but was to hold that space. And I know that’s a really big ask and you know, I’m all good. Me and mom are all good, even though she’s not here on this planet. We are good. But. What I didn’t get in that moment was someone who was able to hold space for me, with me, for me to feel my feelings, express my frustration, express my sadness, and then by doing that, be able to integrate the disappointment and I think.

That’s such a gift that we can give our kids as well actually is the grace to feel disappointed, you know, without having to harden up, without having to quickly move on to the next thing that we can actually feel these feelings. And this doesn’t mean that we’re going to dwell or drown in these feelings for weeks and months.

We might feel ’em for a little while though. And when we do that and when we have someone that can hold space for us and you know, if all else fails, we have our journal hold space for us, and we write in our journal about what we are feeling from that place, our heart can heal. It can heal the disappointment, it can heal the sense of failure of expectations that haven’t been met within a period of time.

And then from that place, open up what is next for me. So a lot of some clients that I work with, I notice within their timeline have been experiences where the disappointment hasn’t been integrated, and this will. Um, crossover with trauma, of course, but not, not every experience that I’m talking about here has been traumatic.

It could be more in the everyday garden variety disappointment, but that disappointment hasn’t been integrated and so then there’s a part of the psyche that is still very entangled with that and finds it hard to move on and open. Up to the next stage of our life, and even when I say move on, we’ve been so indoctrinated to well just ignore it.

Turn away, move on, get on with your life. That is unhelpful as well, right? Because if we’re doing that in that hardened, brittle way, we’re not really feeling our feelings. We are not really facing the truth within ourselves, and we’re not really facing our vulnerability that is arisen from this experience.

So if you are a woman in midlife and you’re feeling disconnected from dreams, desires, goals, a sense of promise for the second half of your life, I would invite you to look at this one piece. Of the puzzle. This is not all it is, but it is a very important piece and it’s a piece that we’re gonna be looking at in my midlife upgrade course that I’ve got coming up really soon.

We are running the pilot round. Next month, I’m super excited to take a small group of women through the midlife upgrade course so that we can refine it and make it the best it’s gonna be. In the meantime, I hope that this has given you some food for thought around, you know, if I’m feeling disconnected from my goals and dreams, if I’m not sure what the hell the second half of my life is gonna be, that.

First of all, it’s not your fault, right? Because really past midlife, past middle age in terms of an ever expanding experience of life, it’s fairly unmapped. So far times are changing though, and that this. Small yet very, very potent piece around unintegrated disappointment can be a really, really powerful medicine to actually start a healing process and integration process.

A process where our hearts desires connection to. Why on earth we here and what on earth we’re doing on this planet starts to open up again and flourish. Because this time of our life, we really are just getting started. And we do have to examine those structures, those belief systems, that programming, that cultural conditioning, all of that that we’ve lived under.

And midlife is the prime. Prime time to do it. And I believe nature is working with our hormones to enable us to do this in a way that can wholeheartedly set us free. I believe this with my heart, my soul, my brain, my nervous system. We are on. The hero’s journey throughout our whole life and midlife is a prime time for that hero within us to step up, be seen, step out into the world in your own unique way.

Whatever is right for you because it, it can’t be what is programmed into us. From a very young age because all of that, we need to examine it and toss aside what isn’t serving us. So we are creating from something wholly, totally new. I just love that and I think we need to stay connected to be able to do that.

Have conversations, check in on your woman friends, see how they’re doing, see if they need a listening ear, and vice versa. If you need one, reach out to them. All right, my friends. I really hope that’s been illuminating, helpful, and inspiring. Have an incredible week and I’ll speak to you real soon.