7 Things No One Tells You About Disappointment

Nov 30, 2020

How many times have you used what you learned in chemistry or algebra in real life since you left school?  None?  Yeah, me too.  Now, how many times have you experienced disappointment or failure in life?  A lot? Yeah, me too.  It seems to be a part of life that we can’t avoid so it sure would have been handy to have some teaching on that subject.

Instead, most of us have probably learned about disappointment through what they call the school of hard knocks.  Yeah, I’m singing It’s a Hard Knock Life from Annie in my head too right now.  “'Stead of treated, We get tricked, 'Stead of kisses, We get kicked, It's the hard-knock life, Don't it feel like the wind is always howl'n? Don't it seem like there's never any light! Once a day, don't you wanna throw the towel in? It's easier than puttin' up a fight.”

One difference between overly stressed people and others is the way they handle the disappointment. Disappointment that isn’t handled well can even become depression.

Disappointment comes in all shapes and sizes.   There is disappointment in ourselves for how we handled a situation, how we fell into sin again, how we look or how we didn’t stand up for ourselves.  Then there is disappointment in others that didn’t stay loyal, they didn’t invite us, they made poor decisions.  And there is disappointment in things like the job that you thought was going to be awesome turning out to be not that great, the haircut you got or the quality of the item you bought online.   We really seem to be able to find disappointment in every area of life, don’t we?

Disappointment happens when real life doesn’t line up with our expectations.  Someone once said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

Sometimes we have realistic, appropriate expectations such as having a spouse stay faithful to us and yet they disappoint us.  Other times we have unrealistic expectations such as thinking that we should be good at everything and then get disappointed when we flop on our face trying something new.  

Now you feel sad, frustrated, angry or maybe even apathy.  Repeated disappointment in life can lead a person to lower their expectations so they won’t get hurt again but that only leads to a mediocre and unfulfilled life. Disappointment breeds pessimism, where you start to believe the worst will always happen.  It also leads to impulsive decisions or knee jerk reactions because you feel it doesn’t matter anymore. Our challenge will be to not let bitterness take root from our disappointment.

So, how can you handle disappointment when it comes your way so it doesn’t turn into stress and depression?

  1. Acknowledge that you are disappointed.  Don’t try to hide it, act tough or push the feeling away.  It’s okay to say to yourself, to God or to a good friend that you are disappointed that you didn’t get the job, that you are disappointed with another person’s response, or that it rained on your wedding day.  By acknowledging the feeling, you bring light to it.  Everything the enemy does is done in darkness.  He brings guilt and shame for feeling this way.  So, if we can acknowledge it and discuss it, it loses power over us immediately.

  2. Access the situation.  How bad is it?  Did you just waste $10 on a disappointing product that you bought online or was it a $1000?  Is it returnable?  Do you still have time to find a replacement?  Things are rarely as bad as they seem at first.  Or maybe it is really bad.  In fact, lIfe might not be the same but it doesn’t mean it is over.

  3. Recognize the lie.  When the enemy is involved there is always a lie.  The lie wrapped up in your disappointment may sound like: No one likes you, you don’t deserve happiness, or you are never good enough.  Now take that lie captive.  “We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 TPT) You don't have to give equal time to every thought that comes in to your mind.

  4. Determine your role or responsibility in the disappointment, if any.  If you have to go through it, you might as well learn from it, right?  And if you face repeated disappointment in life, there may be a common denominator that you need to address. Could you have been clearer in your communication of what you were expecting from others? Do you really know what you expect from yourself? Are you listening to what others are saying to you? Could you have done something different to arrive at a different outcome?

  5. Re-evaluate your expectations.  You can now with hindsight see where perhaps you had set unrealistic expectations and you can revise them (yes, even after the fact) and this will change your ability to recover from this disappointment.  Did you expect too much of yourself?  Of others?  I learned early on in my marriage that it was wrong of me to expect my husband to meet my every need or act the way I thought he should act and then be disappointed when he didn’t. Those were wrong expectations.

    "When you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you think they should be.” - Mandy Hale

  6. Remember this failure or disappointment does not define you.  You are not the divorced woman, the fired person, the one with the failed business, the girl who is never included.  It happened but it is not who you are.

  7. Build your disappointment tolerance by working on your stress in general.  If you are already stressed, then a minor disappointment can really hit you hard when it wouldn’t have if you were not stressed.

When you read the Bible, it is full of real people that had many disappointments in their lives.  I’m thinking of Abraham being disappointed that Sarah isn’t pregnant yet as God had said, so he took matters into his own hands and that didn’t turn out so well did it?  And yet, God still gave Him Isaac. 

I’m thinking of Joseph who must have been disappointed when he was thrown in prison for something he didn’t do and yet he remained faithful to God and ended up promoted to second in the land.  

I’m thinking of David who must have been disappointed in himself for his affair with Bathsheba and yet God used him mightily and said he was a man after His own heart.  

Disappointment is not the end even when it feels like it at the time. In fact, it might just turn out that God has something better for you. I remember I was really disappointed that we didn't get a house that we had put an offer on, but in the end I ended up with an even better house!

Like any good parent, God has compassion for you when you are disappointed but He doesn’t let you wallow there.  When you invite Him into the situation, He'll bring answers, restore hope and He'll bring peace. 





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