Have you ever known a “serial disappointer”? This is a phrase I recently coined for those people in our lives that continually, chronically and habitually disappoint us. Needless to say, I’m going to bet that you now know, will know or have known more than one in your lifetime. Go ahead and tell them you need a project completed by a specific date or you need them – for once – to show up on time. What usually happens next is that you feel disappointed. How disappointed you feel depends only on your degree of emotional attachment to the request or expectation.
Sure, the “serial disappointers” can’t help disappointing others because they can’t see beyond themselves. I get that. They may acknowledge the fact that you were disappointed, but they can never “feel” their way to your pain. Being walled off or insulated from your feelings, they start talking about themselves and what was happening – in their life – that upset you. Stay calm enough to really notice what is being said in the speech you are hearing though. “They” didn’t do it. The culprit was some part of life, beyond their control, that did it. The serial disappointer offers what they believe is one good excuse after another, after another – the weather, the traffic, the phone call or the fur ball. The excuse really doesn’t matter, because after awhile, you are at that place where you have heard all the excuses before. Their life seems to be an endless drama; and they don’t want to hear from any of us that a great deal of that drama appears to be self-made; and the timing much more convenient than any rational person should be asked to believe.
Can we change anyone else’s behavior? Not likely. What we can change is our attitude and expectations of a serial disappointer. And that new attitude and sense of independence might just be what the doctor ordered. Sometimes the less you ask for, the more you get. At the very least, you will get a feeling of being more centered and a lot less upset when you take away your belief system that says that their behavior is a deliberate attempt to hurt you. Find that inner sense of peace that does not personalize a behavior that does not rightfully belong to you.