Dealing with Disappointment

The following was the topic of
Mid-Day on Monday with Maurice
February 10, 2014 at Noon
Free Conference Call

Hope those who listened found value in the conversation! 
If you missed this event, it was recorded 
and you are welcome to get a copy by texting “Disappointment” to 8015585952. 
May your lives improve each day! 

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Dealing with Disappointment

The Grief Cycle
(Maurice Style)

Have you ever been significantly disappointed in relationships? 

The following is an exerpt from the book,
By Maurice W. Harker
One of the first women to be respected as a psychology theorist
was Elizabeth Kubler- Ross.  She came up
with something called the Grief Cycle.   It was designed to help people work through
the death of loved ones.  It can also be
used to help people work through the death of a dream, including the dream of a
successful marriage.  If we add some
spiritual insights, these principles can help individuals deal with
disappointment in their relationships.
 Kubler-Ross
started with Denial, “This can’t be
happening to me.”  “Didn’t I do everything
the way they said to keep this from happening?” 
“I don’t want to be a statistic.” 
“This can’t be happening.” 
The next stage is what she calls Bargaining.  I call this the
Thinking Stage.  “What if we had just
known..?”, “What if we . . .? “, “Maybe if we had just done this different or
maybe if we had done that different”, “What if we could do this next?”
There are a couple of different ways to bargain or to think.
(This is where I start to add some enhancements.) One of them creates a nice,
fun (sarcastic) little merry go round called Fretting.  Fretting is
thinking without Inspiration (see diagram above).  It is very painful when you can’t find a
working solution for your marriage. 
Smart women resist moving into the next 3 stages because they believe
they can find a solution. And why not!? 
They have been successful in finding solutions in most other areas of
their lives. So, they go around and around and around, chewing on every aspect
of their experience, hunting for a solution. Now I want to make sure the reader
knows that I do not discuss this topic with any mockery.  I have learned to have a great deal of
respect for the process women go through in these situations.  I have learned that the reason they do this
is because women (at least most of the ones I have worked with) have a deep
hope for miracles.  Fretting is painful,
because, without inspiration, high speed thinking can create anxiety and
depression and….  There is another type
of thinking one can use at this stage of the cycle which can lead to a miracle (see diagram below). 
It is challenging, though, is to maintain this different kind of thinking.  Keeping your mind (and body) in the condition
necessary to have access to Inspiration. 
This is what I call Pondering.
 Pondering is thinking while remaining
calm and confident.  Pondering is
thinking without fear.  Pondering
increases the likelihood of Inspiration. 
 Fretting decreases the likelihood
of Inspiration.  
 It is glorious
when a miracle can be found.  It is
glorious when a spouse responds to the ideas you try to implement.  But if not…even through Inspiration…
If there is no miracle today, if you find yourself
disappointed, you have a choice between 2 types of pain.  You can return to Fretting, or you can move
on to the next stage of the Grief Cycle.
The next stage Kubler-Ross discusses is Anger.  This is what you feel when none of your ideas
are working.  You kick things, and use
strong language in your head (even if you don’t out loud. 😉 )  You get mad. 
Some of your anger can be attached to your frustrations about things not
being the way they were supposed to be.  This
is the stage when women are most likely to mis-behave themselves…and feel
justified about doing so.  I have seen
everything from significant eating changes to throwing things to serious sexual
indiscretions.    Not a fun stage to be in.  My hope is that each woman will find
activities in which they can channel this energy so they will not do things
that would make them feel embarrassed if caught on video.
After, or mixed with Anger, there is a Sadness stage.  Some call this depression but there is a
difference between being sad and being depressed.  Sadness is a normal, healthy feeling to have when
your life isn’t going as planned.  I
define depression as when there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate reason to feel
sad.  Depression is usually a genetic
condition.  Sometimes it is due to thinking
errors.  A person can be both Sad and
Depressed at the same time.  You can
guess that this would be uncomfortable.  We
can talk about Depression more at another time, but let’s return to Sadness.  While Grieving, some people spend more time being
angry and some people more time being sad.  Most women bounce back and forth between both.
The 5th Stage is Resignation.  Resignation
means to come to the awareness that, “This is just the way things are.”  The question is asked, “Does that mean to
surrender?”  There are two versions of surrender.  There is the powerless weak version of
surrender.  This is often described as Victim
mode, “My life is ruined now and there is nothing I can do about it.”   Or, there is the Pioneer Woman mode.  “You
just kicked me out of my house in Nauvoo.  Fine, I’ll go to Utah and build a whole
nation.”  It is a form of surrender, but
more of a form of acknowledgement of reality as it stands now.  “Things are not the way I hoped they would be,
but I’ll make the best of it.”
Personal Note:
My own experience with the Grief Cycle revolves around
infertility issues.  When it finally
became apparent that we would not having any more kids, I went into my own
resignation mode asking, “What does that mean? That means that my son (adopted
from my wife’s first marriage) will be 20 years old when I’m 40. That gives me
a ton of time to do some really cool stuff with an empty house.  I could work on a lot of projects designed to
serve the world if I don’t have more kids to have stewardship over.”  And so, it took some time, but I was ready to
not have any kids.
Now, here is where I need to emphasize the main
difference between typical men and typical women when it comes to the Grief
Cycle.  Masculine psychology encourages
people to get off the merry go round at this point.  Become resigned, stay resigned.  There are some healthy reasons for this at
times, but I will not address those here. 
The problem, though, that can occur is that if people stopped believing
in miracles, unlikely outcomes, the whole world would stagnate. 
Let’s add a little more to what Kubler-Ross taught.  I have observed that this is where, after a
brief Resignation, women experience something powerful.  Unfortunately, we can’t really clarify
whether or not this powerful thing is a blessing or a curse.  As you will see, it depends on how things
turn out.  At this point in the cycle,
after trying to stay Resigned, the woman often re-begins the Grief cycle by
going into what I call a Denial of Reality, otherwise known as HOPE.  I consider this “hope-out-of-nowhere” a gift
from God.  Quite often, the hope that
comes into the heart of a woman (and yes, some men also) is against the odds;
against logic; against reality.  If the
idea comes to fruition…it will be a miracle.
Continuing with my personal story.  I came home one day, after I was well prepared
for a life with no more children and my wife said, “I’ve been thinking.” One of
the worst phrases for a man to hear a woman say. J
But she had been planted with hope.  She
was denying reality. “What if we…, we could still…, maybe if….” For a while, to
avoid going through the Grief Cycle again, I had been inclined to throw water
on every hope she had.  “Stop hoping for
things.”  I just wanted to stay Resigned.
My wife said, “What if we try adoption?” I thought, “Have
you seen the statistics on that?”  I went
into a logical, mathematical mode.  She
says, “Yeah, but there’s a chance.” I now call my wife Babe Ruth.  She seems to have a record for the most
strikeouts and the most home runs.  She gets up to the plate and swings her heart
out.  So what happened in our case, after
dozens of times of going through this cycle, there was a miracle.  The beautiful daughter we have now came into
our lives due to my wife’s Denial of Reality, or HOPE
Miracles:
What I have learned is that if you stay Resigned there
are no miracles.  There are no miracles
if you stay logical.  There are no
miracles if you don’t hope.  Unfortunately,
this is where tension and/or contention surfaces in many relationships.  One spouse wants to stay Resigned…the other
experiences Hope.  If you stay Resigned
you don’t have to visit Anger and Sadness anymore.  “Honey, if you just stay resigned you don’t
have to be angry or sad. That is the solution to your emotional problem. If you
hope, statistically speaking, we are probably going to have to go through all
this pain again.” Spouses or other loved ones often try, with good intent in
most cases, to prevent anger and sadness by killing hope. 
I have realized that hope is very deeply ingrained in
women. When I look at the big picture, especially the divine picture, what if
all women stopped hoping?  What would
happen to our culture?  At best it would
stagnate, more than likely it would deteriorate.  This means women are blessed with a
curse.  Women get up to the plate and
hope and will probably strikeout at least two out of three times like a
baseball player does.  This means women
are going to be Angry and Sad.  Men
validate it all the time in sporting situations.  J
 
 I have learned that
if I want to be on a team with my wife, if I am going to be one with her, I
need to join her in both Denial of Reality and Pondering, not to just sit on
the sidelines (stubbornly resigned) and wait for her to “get over it”.  Miracles are by definition something that is
based on a low percentage.  So if I can
join her in experiencing a miracle, it will can be glorious.  But if I am going to be a connected spouse, I
need to join her in the anger and sadness as well.
There is an energy inside of all women.  They go to bed crying under their wagon and
before the men wake up the next morning, she has the fire built and says, “Let’s
do this!”, because she has been filled with a new Hope.  Knowing where you are in the Grief Cycle, helps
facilitate. Unfortunately, if you have been brainwashed a little bit by
American psychology, you may have been told that the Denial of Reality, and reigniting
the Think stage again, are mentally unhealthy.  I propose that it is important and healthy
(although uncomfortable most of the time), for people to revisit the grief
cycle.  If people don’t hope beyond
logic, opportunities for miracles cease. 
By the time I meet a couple in my office for marriage therapy, there is
a lot of damage to the marriage.  It is
this Hope, this Denial of Reality that gives the relationship a chance for a
miracle.  In almost every case, if both
can tap in to Hope, a miracle can be found. 
Statistically speaking, this Hope usually comes from the woman. 
When you break out of the Grief Cycle Prematurely:
What is unhealthy is when a person skips or avoids any one
of the stages.  Imagine having hope and
your hope doesn’t come to fruition and you don’t get angry.  That means that you have no fire in you.  You’re bland. 
You go straight from failure to sadness. 
You don’t have any energy at all to be upset about it? 
Now imagine not being sad at all, that would be weird.  That’s a little unhealthy to not be sad at
all. 
Skip Resignation and you have problems. Straight from sad
to happy and hopeful? That’s like being bi-polar. You ought to plod along like
a Pioneer Woman for at least 24 hours before you get enthusiastic or hopeful
again.
And if you take all Hope out of your life…then what do
you have?
Conclusion:
Yes, there is a time to stay Resigned and not regain Hope
again, but you are the only one who will know when it is that time.  Only personal Inspiration can tell you when
it is time to let something die.  We can
talk more about when to just let something die and how to survive the death of
a dream another time.  You can read about
this Pioneer Woman Mode in “I’m Not Okay, You’re Not Okay, and That’s Okay.”
In my experience with quality woman, they need to feel
like they have done all they can do.  So
they are going to have to go through the Grief Cycle many times.  It is usually painful and difficult, but if a
miracle can be found…it makes it all worth it!
Discussion: What
phase of the cycle are you in right now? 
What can you expect next?  Why do
you think it is healthy (although uncomfortable) for women to continue to
cycle?  How can you tell when it is time to stay Resigned?  If you have a friend that is Grieving, how
can knowing what stage of the cycle they are in help you with how you talk
about their situation with them?

Maurice teaches
 Dealing with Disappointment
Audio Download

About Maurice W. Harker, LPC

Director of Life Changing Services, Director of Sons of Helaman, Facilitator of the WORTH group, Consultant for the Daughters of Light program.