When you’re used to disappointment, it can be hard to hope for the best. You are tempted to expect the worst. To always be on your guard. To be suspicious when things go right. It becomes natural to be on high alert for any indication, any sign or warning that things may go wrong or fall apart. You keep your expectations low. You keep your head low. You keep your hopes low. Because the lower you are, the shorter the distance is to fall.
When you’re used to disappointment, you don’t let yourself dream. Not really. You close your heart against opportunity and chance. You don’t like surprises… Because in your experience, surprises are usually no good. You’re likely to self-sabotage every good thing that comes your way because, “There must be something you’re not seeing.” After all. Things don’t usually work out for people like you.
When you’re used to disappointment, your relationships only go so deep, since you don’t let yourself depend on anyone. You basically trust no one. And the people you do trust, become your entire world. Your foundation. Every tiny mistake they make feels magnified. It’s amplified. The searing pain of betrayal drives a spear into your heart and wedge between you, because you trusted them. You become bitter, because when you elevate your standards beyond what is reasonably possible for a human, you become unreasonably upset when their humanity shows.
Sound familiar? Chances are, if the title to this article caught your attention, you are someone who is a companion to disappointment.
People who are used to success, expect success, thereby, mentally setting the stage for future successes. But people like us, who are used to things going poorly, become expectant that things will continue to go poorly. Past disappointment sets your mind up for future disappointments… unless you learn how to handle that disappointment correctly.
The experiences of your life are the building blocks that create your world view. When the foundation of that world view is built inadequately or incorrectly, our vision can end up terribly skewed. This is why, oftentimes, we are forced to tear down and build again. This process of renewing and transforming our minds—Christians, guided by the Holy Spirit—keeps us from allowing repetitive circumstance and situation to shape our mindset, and dictate our expectations.
How then, do we begin such a transformation? One disappointment after another. Each, an opportunity to retrain our responses. While I, like most of you, tend to tune out the people determined to tell me how to live my life… I’ve found the following to be an excellent method when dealing with ongoing disappointment:
Cry it out. Stuffing your feelings is unhealthy, and untrue. You are allowed to feel upset, and angry. The world isn’t fair. There is injustice. Your hopes were dashed. It’s okay to be honest about that. Breathe. Sob, even. But don’t stay there.
Talk it out. I’ve recently discovered the power of clear, honest communication, and I am reveling in it. More than simply “getting things off my chest,” or “venting,” real communication builds understanding, defines expectations, and leaves little room for guesswork and confusion. It’s so much more than just talking.
Finally, adjust… and keep moving forward. This is where most people get stuck. That age old temptation to stay put when you don’t know what’s ahead, or to “quit while the quitting is good” will rear it’s head whenever it has the chance. I write about that temptation often. Probably because I frequently come face to face with it. Again, I admonish, keep going. Try again, even if it means failure.
Despite your disappointment, have hope, always. Because one day things may change. Things may fall into place. People may surprise you, and things may work out. And, that “one day” may even be today. You’ll never know if you don’t do.
(For your sake, reader, I sure hope they do!)