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A Trick To Curtail Disappointment

A Trick To Curtail Disappointment by Amy Eliza Wong - Life Coach in the Sacramento, CA area

Feeling disappointed isn’t very fun. In fact, many of us do whatever we can to avoid it. We do this by not getting our hopes up, assuming the worst, and/or refusing to dream big. 

Because disappointment hurts.

But guess what? It doesn’t have to. A friend of mine shared a distinction with me that has forever changed my view of disappointment.

Ask yourself this:

Is my disappointment from a failed expectation or from a failed agreement?

Here’s the deal: disappointment is a function of expectation, and expectation is a funny animal. It’s either a shared vision between privy parties or a singular world of swirling assumptions.  Disappointment is a possibility in either case. 

But we can decrease the frequency of painful/negative feelings simply by switching out expectation for agreement in our daily routine.

Check it out:

  • An expectation is an anticipation of how someone/thing will be or turn out.
  • An expectation is something I can hold independently of someone/thing else, meaning, it’s not always communicated or shared with involved parties.
  • Many times, I assume my expectation is understood and shared.


This is huge. Inherent in “expectation” is a personal experience – it’s an idea/outcome/forecast I’m holding. The reason I can feel miffed or disappointed is because, many times, other stakeholders simply aren’t informed of what I’m thinking. My expectations can often originate from an assumption, not an agreement.

Agreement, on the other hand, implies a shared experience and mutual understanding. If I get agreement among all involved parties, there is less chance for disappointment because we’re all marching toward the same vision. If the outcome falls short, we can have a productive conversation to correct our efforts rather than sulk in a state of painful disappointment.

Think about it for a second… for all the times you’ve been disappointed by something or someone, see if swapping agreement for expectation shifts your experience.

That promotion you’re expecting… is that a hopeful expectation from all your hard work or is it a clear agreement you have with your boss?

You’re sick and tired of your roommate’s messy habits… are you wishing/expecting she’d be more tidy or is she failing to meet the agreement you both have made on how to co-exist?

Your family vacation felt lackluster, distracted, and unfulfilling… did you all get a clear agreement on how to handle emails/texts/social media/work or were you expecting family members to be a certain way (more present) than they appeared?

I’ll tell you, having this distinction between expectation and agreement has changed everything for me. Rather than feel sad, angry, or disappointed in other people’s behavior or situations I now actively engage where applicable (by getting agreements) or I easily let go of silent assumptions and unnecessary hurts. Pretty powerful and on purpose stuff!

What do you think? Could switching agreement for expectation make a difference for you? How so and in what areas? Leave a comment and let us all know what you see shifting as a result. Thanks for sharing!

Amy Eliza Wong is a life coach, writer, and speaker in the Sacramento, CA area committed to helping people figure out what makes them tick so they can finally live with joy and real purpose. Learn more about working with her.