Getting, owning and letting my disappointment be sets me free!

Doing more of that which brings joy and human connection into my life is part of the game I have created for myself called ‘Playing BIG’.  Coming from that context I booked a table-tennis table at the sports centre for 9:30 am today.  I was so excited at the thought, picture, of my sons and I playing table-tennis together on a proper table and in a room with lots of space to move around freely – as opposed to playing table-tennis in our lounge.

This morning I rang my son at 8:30 to let him know that I’d pick him up from his friends at 9:15.  And that is exactly what I did.  My son appeared to be in good spirits and I took that to mean that all was fine and I could expect a great experience: playing table-tennis with my son who enjoys playing table-tennis!  We got there, I paid £5 and headed to the table-tennis table.  When we got there delight was present for me: single table set-out in a large room (lots of space) just for us.  This is great and this is going to be great – that is the conversation that I was having with myself.

We got playing.  First my son said that he had to hit the ball harder (than home) – he occurred as being surprised and put out by this.  After practicing for five minutes or so he told me he wanted to play a game.  “Fine, let’s play a game” was my response.  When we got playing he kept asking me if I was playing my best and I kept telling him “Yes”.  He was not happy with this – he seemed to be convinced that I was taking it easy on him.  What was happening in my world: “How the heck do you expect me to play better given that you cannot cope with the level that I am playing at right now?  And yes, I am playing the best that I can play given the circumstances.  Quit asking the same stupid question and just focus on playing!”  On the outside I was calm because whilst i was getting activated by what occurred as a ‘poor attitude’ on my son’s part, I was in control and able to transcend i.

I won the first game – no surprise, no significance to it. We started playing the second game.  Now the room was too hot for my son – he kept saying how hot it was.  I offered to open the double doors – he refused. Then he kept telling me he was thirsty and so I offered him money so that he could go and get a drink – he declined.  All the time I kept calm and simply played table-tennis when there was table-tennis to play.  It soon became obvious to me that the table-tennis that we were playing did not match the ‘table-tennis schema’ that my son had in his head and so he did not want to play table-tennis.  Actually, there was no genius on my part – he kept repeating that he was bored.  At 10am – half an hour in reality yet an eternity in my experience I put a stop to it.  I simply said that I could see that the situation was not working for my son and so we should go home.d

What was there for me?  What was happening underneath the surface?  I noticed that I was disappointed and i (my automatic machinery) was disappointed and angry:  i kept wanting to blame and criticise my son; i felt betrayed; i felt that it’s time had been wasted; i did not approve of people who quit especially when that person is my son – i was brought up to finish whatever it started or it got punished big time.

Yet, I stayed calm and did not let i run me like it usually does.  How did that come about?  I was present to the fact that reality was perfectly OK (just great the way it is and the way it is not) and i noticed that the disappointment was a natural result of how i works.  i had jumped into the future and mapped out how it would be (a great game of table-tennis and a great bonding exercise with my son).  And when reality was reality and it did not match up with what i had expected then i had got upset.  I could see that i had created and was continuing to create my disappointment.  When I got this I owned that i was creating this disappointment and not my son.  I noticed that I soon as I got that and owned my disappointment and let it be without resisting it, it vanished.  And I was left with everything is OK – just the way it is and the way it is not – and that set me free to get on with what I needed to do this morning in complete peace!

How about you?  Are you owning your disappointment and thus setting yourself free?

Author: Maz Iqbal

Management consultant. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise, and Technology. Deep interest in human existence. Disposed favourably to the Existentialist stand. Penchant for originals and original thinking, as well as stimulating thinking and rocking the boat. Otherwise, thoroughly ordinary.

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