Throughout our lives, we will all have to deal with disappointments. Disappointment is not an easy thing to face especially as squashed underneath there can be many different feelings; anger, shame, regret, envy or sadness to name but a few.
As we move into December I’m aware that this time of year can enhance those feelings of disappointment; especially if our expectations of the season, and our expectations of others, doesn’t quite fit with what really takes place over the next few weeks.
When I think of disappointment I think of suffering. If I can acknowledge that suffering, I accept it’s there and I can be compassionate to myself by not being self-critical. Through self-compassion I can then find a way to live with those uncomfortable feelings.
Self-compassion isn’t about feeling sorry for yourself; it’s the antidote of that. It’s caring for ourselves in response to suffering, being more kind to ourselves. Paul Gilbert in his book The Compassionate Mind writes that:
“Compassion isn’t about becoming less focused and less able, it’s about becoming refocused and more able.”
As humans, we have a deep well of compassion inside each and every one of us. The late neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp discovered that one of the primary emotional circuits in the brains of mammals creates the experience of compassion, warmth and caring. So, with practice, focus and the use of mindfulness we can enhance this part of our brains to generate compassion within ourselves, for ourselves, as well as towards others.