By Alecia Rice
Q: I started a new venture and am hurt that I don’t seem to get any support from my closest friends and family. How do I deal with my disappointment?
— Feeling Unsupported
A: Dear Feeling Unsupported,
Since the pandemic, a lot of people have ventured out in new ways. So I’ve heard from many people who feel the same way. Most of the time, the disappointment is birthed from our expectation of how things should be contrasted against the reality of how they are. Whether they deserve it or not, the resulting feelings are easily projected onto other people. We may expect our friends and family to provide love, support, and assistance when we’re venturing into something new, but that expectation can often lead to disappointment.
Lack of support and assistance from those closest to us is not unusual. I’ve learned in business groups that it is far more common than most of us realize. Sometimes, the expected support may even be replaced by criticism or a complete lack of acknowledgment as to what we’re doing. This can pour salt into the wounds when we’re already feeling vulnerable. While we have no control over who chooses to support us, we do have complete control over how we choose to view and process how we feel about those who don’t show up the way we expect them to.
One of the most important things we can do is to quit thinking what others “should” do according to our standards. We can do this for our benefit and peace of mind. We have no control over what others do and our expectation that they show up in a certain way only hurts us when they don’t. We can temper such disappointment by learning not to expect in the first place. This takes conscious practice working within oneself.
It’s important to try our best to de-personalize the circumstances and to try to understand what might lie behind the lack of action. Sometimes our new ventures or seeing us in new roles makes others uncomfortable. On occasion, people don’t agree with—or understand—what we’re doing. This may cause them to question, criticize, or remain mute. Our growth looks and feels strange compared to how they’re accustomed to seeing us. They may be envious or jealous because we’re stepping out in a way that they’ve wanted to but haven’t yet.
If people aren’t interested in what we’re doing, we may not feel supported. All of these human feelings are valid, yet they can also be hurtful—especially to somone who has stepped into vulnerability by doing something new and was hoping to be surrounded by palpable love and support. This experience can help to build confidence, yet we alone are responsible for building that confidence. It’s an inside job.
In our vulnerability, we can try to voice our disappointment, but that can be difficult when we’re already feeling fragile and unseen. A better approach would be to communicate our needs clearly by giving various concrete examples of how people can provide support. If their physical help, kind words of encouragement, or digital support (by “liking” and “sharing” social media posts) fulfills those needs, tell them. If we need to know that they’ll be there when we’re seeking their advice or expertise to help us blossom, speak up and let them know. Helping them understand how they can support you in ways that are comfortable and convenient for them may be helpful.
Meanwhile, support yourself by acknowledging any sadness you feel due to your unmet needs and seek the root of that sadness. Don’t sweep your feelings under the rug, feel them. Figure out if you need to speak up, especially if there’s a pattern of disappointment, mistrust, or betrayal. You may need to set boundaries to halt the pattern of pain. Figure out other avenues that can ease your disappointment in the lack of support by connecting with people who aren’t as close to you or hiring others to fill in gaps.
Disappointments often accumulate—which can cause us to overreact to lesser ones, especially if there’s a buildup of resentment or letdowns in the relationship. Learning to deal with minor disappointments with self-talk may help us regulate future disappointments. Also, reframing refocuses us in directions that we have more control over.
Alecia Rice is a Spiritual Alchemist and a personal advisor for those ready to unravel their issues with conscious choices. She offers grounded perspectives for energy management and sage insights in columns, videos, and podcasts. Visit www.AskAlecia.com for more information. Submit personal questions and quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org.