One of the most difficult things to contend with in life is disappointment. It’s the reason why we hold back our emotions, why we’re consistently indecisive and why we’re afraid of taking big risks.
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there was a little child who had BIG dreams and saw the world as a limitless well of opportunity. That is, until one day someone stole his/her hope away. Not only that but they took it and like a delicate flower, crushed it carelessly in their hand. The hurt and pain of witnessing such brutality and cruelty were so painful that the child never recovered and vowed that he/she would never ever let them him or herself dream again.
It goes something like this…
Although the story may be subtly different in your case, you may recognize a little piece of yourself in it. For me as a child, it was the heartbreak of learning about Santa Claus. As I grew older, it became the job I didn’t get, the relationship I thought would go somewhere, the realization that I had less control of things than I thought I did.
With every great hardship, comes deep disappointment. But how we respond to it, how we perceive it, determines our strength, our courage and ultimately the way we live our lives.
A friend once told me that growing older meant watching one dream die after another. It was a depressing statement. One that I decided to dump along with disappointment.
Dealing with Disappointment
Whenever I fall into the trap of disappointment, I remind myself that expectation is an illusion. We can only be disappointed if we had a grand perfectly planned outcome in our minds to begin with. Instead of resisting life’s mysteries as an attack on our dreams, why can’t we take ourselves out of the equation and be open to the idea that God has a better, bigger plan for us?
Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you wanted or the home you dreamed of owning, and right now you’re feeling like every decision you’ve ever made was wrong. You’re not just disappointed with one thing. You’re disappointed with the way you’ve planned out your life.
I’d like you to consider the following. Remember a time when something went exactly the way you planned. Now think of a moment in your life when something wonderful happened (a new love, a friendship, a job opportunity) that you hadn’t expected. Wasn’t the latter an even greater blessing than knowing what to expect? Remind yourself that life isn’t something to be controlled. Just because life isn’t working out the way you want it to, that doesn’t mean it won’t work out in the end.
Something to Try...
Learn to let go of your expectations. Practice the art of acceptance. Drop your attachment to the outcome. Erase the rigid lines that say you need to be married, have a home, be 100% healthy in order to be happy. And be open to the possibility that you will get what you need, but you may not get it right now. Maybe you’re not ready. Maybe the perfect job, person, or place is not ready for you. Maybe getting what you want is less important than receiving what you need in the form of lessons like faith, patience and love. Consider that what feels like disappointment, could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you.
As someone who finally got the dog she’s always wanted since she was a child (a decade after asking for it) and the husband she’s dreamed of as an adult , I know that getting what you want in life isn’t about demanding it to appear. What it does require is patience, faith and an unwillingness to give up on your dreams.
Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a freelance writer who specializes in psychology and self-help articles. She has a MA in Counseling Psychology and writes for several publications and websites.