Getting over disappointment is a skill you need to keep your perspective, but fortunately everyone can learn it. Without this skill, it’s easy to slip into depression and hopelessness.
Let’s acknowledge right off the top that some losses are major blows, but that most daily letdowns fall into the category of minor upsets. For instance, the death of a loved one isn’t in the same rank as losing your sunglasses. Major losses can take months or years to adapt to; minor ones can be brushed off in a minute.
With that in mind, we'll explore five things to remember to keep those small to medium setbacks from ruining your day.
I don’t know if psychologists still talk about persecution complexes, but if you have a lot of disappointments, you may feel as if you’re a bad luck person or that God is punishing you. I know. I was stuck in that mindset for years.
Every difficulty had a cumulative effect. I felt as if I couldn’t catch a break. I lost the ability to appreciate the good things in my life. I expected bad things to happen, and when they did, I exaggerated them and thought that confirmed my goofy theory. I was like that character in the old comic strip Lil’ Abner, who had his own personal rain cloud following him around, drenching him all the time.
Take it from me, cosmic forces are not out to get you. They are not conspiring to make your life miserable. No matter how much stinky stuff happens, it’s more a case of unfortunate coincidence. Once you realize you’re not a disaster-magnet, it’s like the sun bursting through on a gloomy day.
How do you make that leap? Look around and find all the things in your life that are going right. You’ll be surprised how many there are. You’ve just been focusing on the negative instead of the positive. If you believe you can be defeated by these calamities, you can. If you believe nothing can stop you, you’ll turn into The Comeback Kid.
The sooner you realize you’re not being picked on and that everybody has to deal with getting over disappointment, the sooner you’ll be able to regain your footing. If you’re going to use your imagination, use it to see yourself as a winner instead of a whiner.
I used to catastrophize. I don’t know if that’s even a word, but I used to do it. I blew every disappointment out of proportion.
I saw them as career-enders, life-enders, you-name-it-enders. Guess what? None of them ended me. Not one. I’m still here to tell you how dumb I was.
Sometimes getting over disappointment has a way of working itself out. You can fix most mistakes, and for those you can’t, you’ll somehow survive. Look back and see the things you thought were going to do you in. You’re still here too.
As you get older, you tend to get slower. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing. You’ve had enough of those bad consequences that you tend to be more cautious. No, that doesn’t make for a boring life. It makes for a more pleasant life because you’re not basting in misery you created yourself because you didn’t think things through.
The less attention you give to a disappointment, vs. replaying it over and over again in your mind, the less regret you’ll feel about it. Don’t empower it by feeding it.
The more serious the loss, the longer it takes to grieve. Which means, too, that we give far too much time to the minor misfortunes in our lives. Life is a journey, and when you’re constantly going backwards, you’re not moving forward. We singles have a harder time getting over disappointment because we have more time alone to think.
Here’s a little test. Can you remember what you were disappointed about six months ago? One month ago? How about last week? If you can still remember, you’re holding a grudge against somebody or some institution. Let it go.
When you make a fresh start every morning, you cut loose those anchors from yesterday that were holding the S.S. (insert your name here) back. Your little ship can’t go full speed ahead when you’re dragging anchors behind. The goal is to be happy, not to make yourself miserable. Recognize when to move on.
A big part of getting over disappointment is extracting the lesson from it and filing it away for next time.
When Thomas Edison made those thousands of experiments for a successful filament for his light bulb, each failure put him closer to his goal. By the process of elimination he was discovering what didn’t work. Eventually he found what did.
We’ve been conditioned in our society to expect instant gratification, but life is a messy process. Few of us go from Point A to Point B to Point C. For most of us, it’s from Point A to Point A-1, Point A-2, Point A-3, etc. Sure it’s painful, but how many times have you looked back and said, ”It took a while, but I finally got there?”
When things come harder, we appreciate them more. We also get time to think and maybe reorder our priorities. A change in plans is not necessarily a bad thing.
We learn by experience, and by observing the experiences of others. Their pain can be your gain. Disappointment is nothing to be ashamed of. But it is something to learn from.
Most other articles about getting over disappointment don’t list his truth: God heals hurting hearts, if we let him. Just as God heals our physical bodies in his own mysterious way and time, he heals our wounded emotions as well.
In the gospel of John, Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit to us after He left. I like the King James Bible’s translation: Comforter. What does a comforter do? He brings consolation after a disappointment; that is, reassurance or cheer.
Jesus knew disappointment. He saw it in other people. What a gift that God would come to heal us of our disappointments. It’s one of the most caring things He could do for us.
If you’re a Christian, you have the advantage of turning your disappointment over to God and asking Him to fix it. Even God can’t change what has already happened, but He does have the ability to give us wisdom to move on.
My friend Gary Reed once made a wise observation: ”You can’t help somebody who doesn’t want to be helped.” The same holds true of God. He can’t heal you if you don’t want to be healed. But if you do turn your pain over to Him, He can bring his restorative power to bear on it.
We singles don’t depend enough on God. He is eager to help in getting over disappointment. Your trust gives Him an opportunity to show His love. Give God your heartaches. Let Him make you whole again.
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