new blog post: disappointment

i wrote his awhile ago and thought i’d put it up.

i haven’t said it yet, not sure if i will, it’s probably the most powerful phrase a parent can wield on their child, more painful than any spanking, more thought provoking than anything a raised voice could deliver, and a useful tool to get a person to actually think about their actions.

what am i talking about?

the monotoned uttering of “i’m disappointed in you.” the most effective delivery is the following: you must hold your jaw so that your teeth are only a quarter of an inch apart, speak from your mouth using your lips, almost a whisper – forcing the sound from your throat. of course a dead eyed stare upon delivery helps as well. when someone says this to you, there is nothing you can do. you can’t argue with it. walking away in quiet contemplation is about all you got. do you remember the first time you heard it? well, perhaps not the first time, but i guarantee that more than a few of you know the situation that caused a masterful delivery of that phrase by someone in your life.

disappointment. see, i think all of us seek the approval of an adult in our lives, the approval of someone we look up to, we all want to hear the opposite of disappointment, we want to make them proud. perhaps it was an adult early on, and now you seek the approval of someone else. i know that when my girls grow up i will want them to be proud of me, to see me as a person that they can count on, but i think their is something profound in letting a loved one down. not that i aim for it, it may have looked that way sometimes, but when you disappoint someone you are not the only one forced to contemplate the expectations. the person who is disappointed had better be examining their vision of you, what they want to see in you, and ultimately your relationship. we can, sometimes unknowingly, load loved ones with unrealistic and ridiculous expectations, we do it to ourselves too. i believe in high standards, i live my life expecting a lot from myself and those that i am around – i know this.

disappointing someone is not something that you purposefully do, it is something that someone thinks you have done to them. there are times we need to be more aware of those around us and understand our role in their lives, but there are times when people in our lives need to be forced to understand that we are not purposefully hurting them, but doing what we feel is right, and perhaps that shouldn’t lead to disappointment, but a further understanding of one another’s lives.

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2 responses to “new blog post: disappointment

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting Andy…My parents very rarely uttered the words but I still remember the few times they did..and it did mean something. I remember thinking “Why can’t they just yell at me–maybe even smack me” Probably because then I could have turned the yelling around in my head and convince myself that I was abused” 🙂 I was dramatic that way. I absolutely remember like it was yesterday when I was 17- My parents found out I had drank and drove home. In my eyes today a VERY major offense. But-I was 17 and reckless. I expected a full out attack from my folks–but instead they sat me down..I actually saw tears in their eyes as they talked about how dissapointed they were that I made that decision and how grateful they were that I did not harm myself much less anyone else. And it stuck. Granted, they also took away my car for 3 months but that was minimal to the ‘quiet terrified look in their eyes’ that I saw that night. I
    also used it. But I saved it for a very few special occasions-and those children do remember. Yes, because in their hearts they did not want me to feel bad. But the messsage was recieved..Interesting column..you are so talented..:) K

    • andrewsmeyer

      Thank you for being a part of the blog with your stories, thoughts and kind words. Yes, it is probably most effective when someone knows that what they did affected other people negatively. (are my “effective” and “affective” right? Can’t check almost dinner time – although i should know this by now.) We, and i think all of us, are harder on ourselves than anyone could ever be, and when left without an argument or other way to vent our frustrations – we are forced to think about how we can change and why we may be “disappointed” in ourselves. I guess there is disappointment that everyone shares – as in your example with the car, and then disappointment that people have due to their own expectations. Good distinction to draw. The “You knew better” and the “Don’t you know me.” Maybe?

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