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Focus: Managing disappointment
Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
It’s hard not to be disappointed when plans don’t turn out like you thought they would. As you’re working toward creating function out of dysfunction, it often seems like you’re not making a lot of progress. You know you’re experiencing discouragement when ‘three steps forward and two steps back’, sounds like it would be an improvement.
Life is so fragile. The days are short and the years fly by more quickly than we want them to. Sometimes everything is just way too complicated. You wonder about your role in the condition of your relationships. You wish for things to be perfect—and they’re just not. You take it out on yourself and feel like you’re the one who failed—when others let you down. Why is that?
One reason we have to deal with so much disappointment is that we have ‘expectations’. Expectations are like dreams and visions. It’s healthy to have expectations—like a hopeful idea, or something we are looking forward to. However, expectations can be ‘not so healthy’ when we aren’t flexible, if things don’t work out.
Part of ‘moving forward’ in recovery involves being able to ‘let go’ of things that are beyond your control. People don’t always mean to let you down, it’s just that their ‘expectations’ are different from yours.
At the very same time you are encouraging yourself with one dream or vision—a person who was an important part of your ‘expectation’, happened to be encouraging their self with a dream or vision, too. One that was different from yours. Their dream or vision is just as important to them, as yours is to you…but both of them can’t work. One dream or vision isn’t going to come to pass—and it looks like the disappointment is going to have to fall on you.
This type of behavior pattern is something that is going to continue to repeat itself all through your life. It sure would help if you could find better ways to cope, so that disappointments don’t bring you down so far. This is the kind of thing that kept you from getting close to people for a long time. It’s the kind of thing that can bring back a whole lot of other stuff from the past, if you let it.
One of the things you can do to manage disappointment, is to decide not to take it personally. Even if you’re tempted to think the other person is just trying to be difficult at your expense—don’t let it get to you. Determine to take the position of giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. Tell yourself ‘it’s okay’, and then embrace the concept that they didn’t decide to do this just to make you miserable. They’re just trying to get through life the best they can—the same as you. You may have reasons to believe they really are trying to make you miserable on purpose—but choose to take the other course. Choose to believe the best about them.
Another thing that will help keep disappointment in perspective is if you don’t let your mind start to go wild—pulling back every memory you have of other times when this person let you down. Don’t allow yourself the opportunity to build a case by gathering every shred of historical evidence between you and this other person. Stand back and look at the outcome of such a line of thinking. Will your runaway imagination take you closer to God, or further away?
There is something else that can help immensely when you are disappointed. Have an ‘escape plan’ in place. When you feel a disappointment coming on—pull out your escape plan and go to work on it. Maybe it’s a project you are creating. Something artsy or crafty. Maybe there is a book you like to ‘get lost in’. Just do something constructive that will be encouraging to your mind, your will, and your emotions—and help you stay on track.
The most important thing you can do to help yourself, is go to God. Tell Him all about it. Don’t pick up the phone and start raging to someone else what’s eating you. Take it to the Lord. Let it all hang out. Don’t miss anything. He told you to cast all your concerns on Him because He cares about you. He waits for you to come and tell Him what’s on your mind. So, do it. After you’ve poured your heart out—you’ll be able to see straight again and things will start to look better.
Finally, be sure to put closure on your disappointment. God is pleased when we employ our experience, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding—to help ourselves deal with disappointment. He doesn’t want this thing to take on a life of it’s own—He doesn’t want it going to sleep with you and waking up with you. He wants you to set limits. The best way to put closure on disappointment, is to forgive, release, and bless the one who disappointed you.
Declaration: I will find new strength by using what I have learned to help me manage disappointment. Choosing to forgive, release, and bless will always bring me closer to God—which is where I will find peace.
All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee as of the date they were written and posted. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog. This material will be published as a book in 2013, by the grace of God. To subscribe to New Strength, select ‘follow’ in the upper left corner of this page.
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