The Chaplain's Notebook


Happiness is something more than simply being free from any tension, as life is something more than just a health checklist. You might be happy while you are tense, and perfectly relaxed but feel unhappy. There are times you may not even know whether it is good for you to have tension or not to have tension. How often do we experience growing tension, especially when we struggle with our shortcomings, defects, morality or psychological weakness? We set out to change these struggles in order to be accepted and to live up to the ideal image we have made up for ourselves.
Whenever we do something in life, we always have a high expectation of a good outcome, but there is an inherent risk of experiencing disappointment. In that disappointment, our tension levels may rise. When things do not go our way, we may feel a wide range of emotions. We may feel slightly let down, depressed, sorrowed or frustrated. Disappointment is always a tough feeling to experience. We may feel disappointed at ourselves, at a friend or at life in general when we experience failure of something that we hope for or expected to happen. Because disappointment is inescapable, we might direct our feelings inward toward ourselves, outward toward other people or even to the world. Disappointment is a natural part of our daily life, but it is important to know there are many ways to cope with it when we are in the midst of it.
The thing is, we all long for things that we cannot have in this life, especially for a love that cannot be lost. As with any feeling, disappointment may come knocking on our heart’s door for different reasons. We do not need to fear acknowledging or feeling it. Because the more we can accept our feeling, the sooner we can process it and move into a new emotional territory. As we allow ourselves to feel our disappointment, it is helpful to process feelings of disappointment through the use of journal writing. Observing the situation that preceded the disappointment and describing the discrepancy between our expectation and reality in writing will allow us to make sense of our emotions, pinpoint patterns and gain relief. The gift from being disappointed is the ability to bring us into alignment with reality. In other words, disappointment prevents us from getting stuck for too long in the realm of how things might have been. If you cannot change it, let us accept it and find solutions. This very acceptance of ourselves and of situations will pave the way for the change, if it is to come at all.
As we consider other disappointments in our lives and how we have moved past them, we may even see that, in some cases, what actually happened in the long run is better than what we had wanted to happen. Disappointment often leaves us feeling deflated with its message that things do not always turn out the way we hope for. However, the more I accept myself as I am and others as they are, the more likely I will be able to ease my pain, remove tensions and sow happiness.
How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their unit of assignment, or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500.