ME: Several years ago now, a wise counselor taught me that disappointment and disillusionment are the result of unrealistic expectations, often based on our limited perspective. This paradigm shift hasn’t eliminated disappointment from my life, but it has helped to greatly diminish it and virtually insulate me from disillusionment.
RUSS: Ken, I have never expected anything from anyone and never will but I don’t tolerate selfish people or organisations and when I see them in action it is a sad sight, a sight all too frequent in this so called modern world.
ME: Russ, that was sort of how I used to respond. People are selfish by nature. For-profit companies are selfish by purpose and design. It’s competition. Many people aren’t smart enough not to over-do things to their own detriment and cannot comprehend partnerships and cooperation for mutual benefit. In business, I like to say they would rather steal a nickel than share a hundred dollars. Thus, to be saddened by what is normal and the only reasonable outcome is irrational…the result of an unrealistic expectation. See?
That does not mean we have to conform to their standard or behavior, or that we have to tolerate it as individuals. It just means that we have to expect it and plan accordingly. That includes philosophically and emotionally. I don’t maintain relationships I perceive to be “one-way streets” either. After a time, if a relationship (professional or personal) is all take and no give, I end it. I also expect these types to call me all sorts of nasty names and publicly try to tarnish my reputation when I do that, too. That’s how they tend to play their game. But I have no control over how others choose to act, and don’t worry about what I cannot control. I am responsible for what I can exert some control over. That begins with me and…frankly…doesn’t extend too much further.
I found a lot more peace and satisfaction in life once I learned to view the world around me clearly and relate to it on its own terms like this. By just taking things as they are without passing judgment and then trying to choose the course of action that is best for ME in response to reality, I lowered my stress level tremendously and all but eliminated my disillusionment with the world around me. It turned my life around. Whenever I am disappointed nowadays, it is either with myself or I know I had an inaccurate expectation of someone or something else. And I have to own my own thoughts. They are no one else’s responsibility.
I hope that some part of my story is useful to you. I hate to see anyone struggling with regret and disenchantment about something they are passionate about and have spent decades building a mastery over. Life is too short to be unhappy for very long. I’m glad to see you are motivated to make changes in response to that discontent rather than to walk away from your passion. Most of all, I hate seeing this happen to a fellow angler and sportsman. I know all too well the selfishness, hyper-inflated sense of competition, the ego-mania bordering on delusion (sometimes the border was crossed long ago), and the constant parade of dilettantes we all must deal with on nearly a daily basis as professionals in the hook and bullet industry. We have to develop the ability cope with them as we do the flies, gnats, and mosquitoes in the outdoors: unpleasant to be sure, but a bittersweet reminder that we are where we are supposed to be doing what we love.
The dialogue above is an excerpt from a real conversation that took place yesterday on-line. I am not a licensed professional in the field of counseling or mental health. I went to a psychologist weekly for two years when I first became disabled to cope with depression and anxiety that would eventually be diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder and PTSD. I have subsequently been clinically diagnosed by specialists with Multiple Concussion Syndrome, a form of Traumatic Brain Injury. The psychologist and I pursued a course of Cognitive Therapy that was very helpful to me. I have also been trained at the post-graduate level in Cognitive Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and am certified in PTSD and Suicide Awareness and Prevention by the Veterans Administration and the US Army. I shared that experience with Russ in the hope that it would help him with his current crisis, and I wanted to share it with my visitors here at the Fish Camp.
Cognitive Therapy for Depression: Disappointment With Others
Posted on April 11, 2012