I have a friend whose life hasn’t turned out the way she thought it would. In some ways it’s better than she ever hoped for — she has two wonderful children, a beautiful home, and she married a good man. But then there are the things that haven’t turned out the way she envisioned — she doesn’t have financial security, she still battles emotional issues she thought she’d outgrow, and her marriage is more up and down than she’d like. She’s having trouble dealing with disappointment.
I think a lot of us are like my friend. We have much we’re thankful for, but most of us have unfulfilled dreams or unmet expectations. Once we admit that, it’s time to face those disappointments and frustrations head on. If we don’t, frustration left to itself leads to bitterness. Bitterness over time leads to despair. Despair leads to a dark place where, ultimately, we lose our vision. And as we know from Proverbs, where there is no vision the people perish. No vision, no joy.
I call this cycle the… “Frustration Formula”.
UNMET EXPECTATIONS > FRUSTRATION > BITTERNESS > DESPAIR > UNCLEAR VISION
So it’s obvious that when we have frustrations, we need to deal with them — but how?
If your life hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would and you have failed at dealing with disappointment, here are some things to try.
It’s okay to grieve.
Grief is not just for death. We need to grieve whenever there is something we must let go of. There are times when we grieve the loss of friendships, love, health, dreams, expectations…many things can be grieved. Giving yourself permission to grieve will help you move on to making your life what you want it to be.
It’s okay to identify that someone or something is responsible for our disappointments, but we don’t want to let the object of our blame become our focus. And, please, don’t blame yourself. Forgive yourself, change what you can change, and deal with life as it is today.
The Serenity Prayer says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” There are so many things in our life that are out of our control, but we can control our attitude and move away from bitterness.
Share your disappointments.
Talk to someone about how you feel. If you can, talk to your husband, but avoid blaming him. The friend I talked about earlier called her father when she was feeling low recently. “Dad,” she said, “can I come over and cry on your shoulder?” Of course he said yes and just talking about her disappointments made her feel better.
Be open to counseling.
If you find yourself stuck somewhere in that frustration formula of bitterness, despair, or a loss of hope and vision, consider getting professional help.
I have struggled with dealing with disappointment and found myself lost in the frustration formula. It is my hope that you will not be. I care about you and want you to live a life filled with joy. If things haven’t turned out how you expected they would in your life, please share. I would like to encourage you.