Disappointment is a unique emotion in the sense that it is heavily influenced by cause and effect. It results from the violation of our expectations—we anticipate a certain outcome, and when reality deviates from that anticipation, we experience disappointment. There’s a degree of humiliation there, too, because of being proven wrong. Being so deep and multifaceted, disappointment can seem like a nine headed dragon that’s impossible to slay.
In times of hardship and strife, it’s important to remember that God has a plan for us, and tough times are only paving the way for sunnier days. The word states:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV.
God knows what he is doing, and if it feels like all you have to look forward to are rain and gloomy days, then the best is just yet to come. There’s no way to sugar coat it: sometimes, getting that rejection letter, being turned down for a date, or not making the team can be utterly and absolutely miserable.
A big part of combatting these feelings is to step back and gain some perspective. It is often human nature to get caught up in trivialities and blow them out of proportion. In most cases, though, we still have our health. Our families. Our livelihoods. Sure, we may not have that one thing we were expecting, but life goes on. The rejection of our expectations can feel inconsolable; always wanting more from life can be just as unhealthy, though. Being disappointed can provide a great opportunity for being thankful for what we do have instead of lusting after possibilities. It’s great to dream big, of course, but not at the expense of losing sight of what’s important.
This goes hand in hand with practicing acceptance. Acceptance can be a bitter pill to swallow—after all, why should we accept a reality that we’re unsatisfied with? There is peace in knowing what you cannot change and letting God take over as well. If you have the personal power to change, then by all means shoot for the stars, but it can be dangerously easy to burn oneself out in the process of trying to move mountains. The key to being happy is to accept being disappointed, as it is an unavoidable part of life. It will also never be permanent, and if you’re really blessed, you’ll learn something along the way, which, in retrospect, isn’t too shabby.