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Disappointment Can Empower You

By Andrew Burgon /
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November 3, 2014


how to handle friendship disappointment

Disappointment Can Not Only Give You Clarity But Propel You in the Direction You Wish to Go

Disappointment has a switch on it. Flip this switch and it can empower you. While it’s a dark kind of energy there is no doubting the positive events that can flow from it and the impact it can have on your life. Here I offer two examples which are work and friendship related. In both cases disappointment served me. It gave me clarity in the new direction I should head, prompted me to act and spurred me on.

An Underwhelming Gift for Service Rendered

I worked for a private kindergarten and cram school in Taiwan full-time for over 17 years. I was their longest serving foreign teacher and contributed a great deal to the school’s success. I had seniority, special privledges, respect and had been made to feel special by the boss on a number of occasions.

I left the school under a dark cloud. There had been a great deal of negative morale among the teachers for many years and I could no longer stand listening to all the constant complaints. Working for the school had been an ordeal and I was glad to wash my hands of it.

When my last day came I was asked to see the owner of the school who I had known before working full-time at the school. I wasn’t expecting anything more than a farewell at the time. Our meeting was only five minutes and I was given two gifts that would have a strange effect on me.

The first gift I was given was a Swarvoski crystaline pen. The same pen that was given to parents when they enrolled their children in the kindergarten. The same pen given out a few months later to all the teachers at the end of year banquet. Two of my fellow teachers didn’t even want them. One gave it to a friend because he felt it was too effemine and the other gave her pen to me so now I have two of them! The second gift was a small leather pouch.

Seventeen years of teaching and helping the school out as a foreign teacher manager and I end up with a handshake, a five minute meeting and gifts that struck me as underwhelming? Again, I had no expectations but it did jolt me in a new line of thought. That was it? I was surprised at the feeling of anger and deep regret that was welling up inside of me. Regret was there already but this incident expanded it’s boundaries.

What made it worse is knowing that if our positions were reversed I would have taken my employee out for lunch, given a gift and a bonus that reflected how important I thought the employee had been to the success of the school.

This disappointment generated a resonating thought laced with regret, disappointment and determination. It was, “From now on I will work for myself full-time and others part-time.” The disappointment I felt was being channeled in a way that could propel me towards my new goal.

Whenever I hold the pen or use the leather pouch it motivates me to be my own boss. It’s like a burr on a cowboy’s boots and I’m the horse. A nitro switch on a car.

My Disappointment With Friendships

I got to a point in my life where my friendship situation over many years had deeply disappointed me. I ended up in a limbo world of severe depression and made an attempt at living the solitary life which failed miserably.

When I finally picked myself up, brushed myself off and renewed my attempts at making friends my heart beat to a different tune. “I will not spend time with people who do not value my friendship.” This thought generated itself because of how I felt about indifference, apathy and carelessness.

The thought is a little misleading. The sentiment behind it is I will not spend time with people who obviously don’t care for my company. It would have a profound effect over me and some of the ideas behind Project Fellowship like assessing friendships and learning to let go of those that aren’t right for you can be traced back to it.

Objects & Thoughts

As I’ve demonstrated objects and thoughts can be infused with sentiment and feelings in such a way as to drive you forward to your goals. Consider whether the disappointment you feel can be harnessed and used to improve your life.

The Allusive Switch

Sometimes disappointment can be very disempowering. It’s like a big, black oval shaped device that is smooth all over. The empowerment switch is nowhere to be found. It is most likely though hidden behind an almost impossible to detect panel.

How to find it? I think an important part of it’s discovery is the intent to find it. The mind then starts to scan your life for a solution. This solution can be a catalyst that opens the aforementioned panel revealing the switch.

I remember in the greatest depth of my depression realizing I had to do something quickly. That I had to find a solution. Sure enough my mind latched onto something. A scene in the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King that inspired me which in turn kindled a fierce determination and courage to find friends.


Disappointment can empower you. It does feel like a dark energy because we’re dealing with feelings like regret and disappointment. I noticed that it had a way of hardening and toughening me up which I like. It helps me clarify the kind of situation I want to be in and prompts me to go in search of it.

Whether I ride out of a disappointing situation to a much better one on a black horse or white horse doesn’t matter to me. I have ridden on both spirited thoroughbreds in my life and the ride is quite exhilarating!

A white horse is one where you have may have learned a valuable lesson and put it to great use. Inspiration may have impacted your life or you were courageous and plowed ahead. Perhaps a mentor came into your life and influenced you greatly.

Do you have anything beneficial to add on the subject of the alchemy of turning disempowering disappointment into empowering action?

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