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The Disappointed and the Disappointment

How to break free from this perpetual drama

Illustration Credit: Angry Cat Can't Remember Why by Jason Edward Davis

We lie to those we love, spend money we don’t have, and do things we really do not want to do. We will do just about anything to defend ourselves from one of the most uncomfortable emotional states around: Disappointment. There is something about the experience of disappointment—either yours or someone’s you love—that can leave even the most therapized human backpedaling into a quagmire of guilt or shame. From an etymological standpoint it makes sense, in that the word infers an assault on our status. Disappoint originates from the Old French word desappointer which means to “to deprive of an office or position.” In relationships, this translates to being “no longer favored” by someone whose favor means a lot to us. Disappointment is tricky to navigate because it stimulates opposing feeling states in us. Yet whether it’s a child dropping his ice-cream cone, an athlete losing a close race, or your partner forgetting your anniversary, the brain chemistry is the same. New studies from UC San Diego School of Medicine have identified that disappointment is a unique brain experience that involve …

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