DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4: 23
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One doesn’t have to live too long before encountering disappointment. Even children at a very young age experience this unpleasant emotion. 

What exactly is disappointment, and how should we handle it?

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In his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster defines disappointment as “defeat or failure of expectation, hope, wish, desire or intention; miscarriage of design or plan.”

We see from this definition that disappointment involves expectations. It involves plans that have not come to fruition and hopes that have not been fulfilled.

Bottom line, disappointment is not getting what we’d hoped we would get.

So, what should we do when we experience disappointment? Here are some insights from God’s Holy Word:

1. Give your disappointments to God. Whenever we experience disappointment, our first step should be to turn to God. In Hebrews 13: 5, God says this: “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.”  This means that God is with us even in the midst of our worst disappointment. He is with us when life crumbles around us, when relationships fall apart, when dreams turn to despair. He wants to comfort us in the midst of our disappointments and to help us learn from them. 

2. Realize that disappointments can build your character. It’s all up to you. In Romans 5: 3, we read this: “…We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” 

By the time I’d reached the age of twenty, I had experienced many serious disappointments in life. I remember standing in front of the mirror one morning, on the edge of despair. By God’s grace, as I stared at my reflection in the mirror, I suddenly realized that I had a choice. I could let my disappointments destroy me, or I could let them strengthen me.

Squaring my shoulders, I took a deep breath and, looking myself in the eye, I said aloud, “Girl, your past can either make you or break you. What’s it going to be?” Without hesitation, I replied, “My past is going to make me!” That decision set the course for the life I am living today. 

3. Balance your expectations with reality. Some people are afraid of disappointment and, therefore, refuse to expect anything of life. They refuse to set goals. They refuse to pursue dreams. All because they are afraid of being disappointed.

Others, on the other hand, set unrealistic goals that are outside of the realistic realm of possibility.  For example, they may set a goal to lose 20 lbs. in one week. Or they may set a goal to run a marathon without training for it. When they fail to achieve their goals, they become embittered or angry or depressed. 

Neither of the above scenarios is a healthful one. Both are unbalanced, and both lead to disappointment. 

4. Trust that disappointments are a blessing in disguise. As I look back over my own life, I realize that, in many cases, what I wanted was not what I needed. In His mercy, God gave me what I needed, and I am so very thankful.

Now, it’s your turn! How do you deal with disappointment?  Please share your insights in the box below. Thanks!

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A mother, her son, and the man who threatens to come between them . . . 

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Please check our archives in the right sidebar for older posts on a variety of topics. You may also search for a particular topic in the search box at the top right.

Some of our most popular posts:

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Copyright 2000-2017 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

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Copyright 2001-2017 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA.  All Rights Reserved.

 

The Dangers of False Expectations

Are you disillusioned with your life? Do you feel that the grandiose plans you once had have turned sour? Perhaps you feel stuck in a relationship that’s going nowhere, but you can’t figure out what’s wrong.

Well, maybe the problem in all of the above examples involves a false, or unrealistic, expectation. Let’s take the marriage relationship, for example. It has been said that disillusionment is the number one cause of divorce today. When a young man and a young woman marry, they have certain expectations about their life together. For instance, the wife may expect her husband to remember their anniversary. When he doesn’t, she’s disappointed. Her disappointment may lead to sulking or a cold shoulder.

The husband, on the other hand, may expect his wife to warn him before she writes a check for over $50.00. When she doesn’t, he becomes angry and yells at her. As a result, an argument ensues that may last several days. Each of these negative scenarios could have been avoided had the young couple discussed their expectations early on in their marriage, or better yet, before their marriage.

The same is true in any relationship or in any situation in life. All of us have unspoken expectations that color our view of life. When, however, our expectations do not correspond to the expectations of those with whom we are in relationship, conflict results. The sad thing is that such conflict could have been avoided had the people involved openly communicated their expectations. Unfortunately, however, we usually assume that others can either read our minds or read between the lines. When they don’t, we become angry or disappointed.

The Bible, God’s instruction manual for man, gives us a key to dealing with unrealistic expectations. In John 2:24-25, we read that Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. In other words, because Jesus understood human weakness, He did not put all his hope in people. He did not have unrealistic expectations of them. Not only was He not disappointed when they failed Him, but He also did not base His life or His self-worth on other people, but on God. Such an attitude enabled Him to live in perfect peace.

When you feel disappointed by an unfulfilled expectation, ask yourself if your expectation is realistic. For example, is it realistic to expect your wife to maintain a spotless home when she works a full-time job while raising three kids? Is it realistic to expect your husband to remember every detail about your first date? Does it mean he no longer loves you if he doesn’t? Is it realistic to expect your teenager to keep a perfectly neat bedroom or your toddler to be the epitome of a sharing heart?

Finally, remind yourself that you too have very likely failed to meet someone else’s expectations of you. By looking at our own weaknesses, we get our eyes off the weaknesses of others and we become more understanding of them.

So next time you’re tempted to be disappointed by someone or something, take the time to evaluate your expectations and to communicate them if necessary. You’ll find that in so doing, you’ll live a happier and more fulfilling life.

Questions:  What single false expectation has caused the most suffering in your life?  How did you develop a new paradigm regarding that expectation? You may leave a comment by clicking here.
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Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.