Only One Way to Handle Disappointment

Boy Child Sad Alone Sit Sitting On Jacket

Parent help is among the highlights of my week. I love going into my son’s class to aid his teacher and other school staff. I love working in a different school environment as a chaplain. And I loved helping in my daughters’ courses when they were children too.

It strikes me, the more I am involved in school environments, just how holistic education is. It’s not just about the academic work or the’formative’ years. There is very much a social dimension to instruction that carries through beyond college, even, hesitant as I say this, into life as a 50-year-old. We are always learning.

I was reminded of this as I saw my child interact in a class session on the mat. I saw myself in his disappointment.

‘It’s what it is, son. Acknowledge it and proceed.’

That’s what I felt I heard God say to my soul. It was both a personal Word from my God to me, His child, in my disappointments, and from me to my son, as I agreed fully with the fact God showed me in my own disappointment.

Life is littered with disappointment. And we always feel like we’ve been hard-done-by. If we’re not careful disappointment grows legs and runs full tilt toward bitterness and headlong to the eventual’prize’ of bitterness.

As a five-year-old the disappointment seems obvious on the face, a heart that is momentarily rejected, but they look quickly to get over it. But on a fifty-year-old that disappointment is often concealed in an’Oh, I’ll be fine… it’s really fine…’ when sometimes my spirit is actually saying,’Gee, that hurt!’ And,’If I’m honest, I’m stunned!’

The point is disappointment stings. We do not expect to not get our way. And it strengthens feelings of injustice (‘it’s not fair!’) Or residual feelings of inadequacy (‘these things always happen to me’, and’why am I always the goal?’) Or one of a range of other not-so-good feelings and attributions.

Two things we can do about disappointment: 1) acknowledge it happened; that we felt the sting of disappointment, and that that is okay, without judging it, and 2) proceed. That’s right, we just move on. We don’t offer the disappointment that communicates any more attention than it warrants.

I didn’t enjoy it when it happened, but I am not going to let it define me.

Tough as it is, when disappointment happens, it’s better to acknowledge it hurts, take courage to feel it, understand what you can, then let go and proceed. You canĀ click for more info on how to move on from disappointment.

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