How To Overcome Disappointment

I can’t begin to count the number of times in my life that I have been disappointed. I didn’t get a job I interviewed for, or I thought I was in love with a certain person and they didn’t feel the same way towards me. A friend didn’t have time for my phone call, or I didn’t get a lead role in the musical. It is obvious that I needed to learn how to overcome disappointment if I wanted to be happy.

What are your disappointments?

  • In a relationship?
  • In life?
  • At work?
  • In yourself?
  • With friends?

And where do these disappointments come from? What does God say about disappointment?

We are going to cover all of these and more.

Is it ok to feel disappointed?

It is what it is. We have feelings and we should not deny them. The question really should be, “how long is it ok to feel disappointed?” Feelings are a signal that something has happened and we either value it or don’t value it. They tell me what my thoughts have been. So feelings are ok. It is what you do with them that comes into question.

What are symptoms of diappointment?

The symptoms of disappointment can vary from person to person. Psychology Today puts it this way:

“As an emotion, researchers describe disappointment as a form of sadness—a feeling of loss …”

Feelings of disappointment can be mild or become severe. A sense of loss can lead to anger. Why did this thing happen, or how could God let it happen? Severe disappointment can lead to depression.

What are causes of disappointment?

Where does disappointment come from? The root cause stems from our expectations not being fulfilled.

“When we believe that there’s something we must have to be happy and fulfilled, we can set ourselves up for disappointment.” Psychology Today

Do you believe any of the following?

  • Happiness will come when you have certain things
  • There is only one person who can satisfy your longings
  • Life events need to happen within a certain time frame
  • Problems need to be fixed a certain way

On the surface, you might answer “no.” But most disappointments fall into one of these general categories. To put it another way, it is an expectation about what and who we need in our lives, or when and how something needs to happen.

What does the Bible say about disappointment?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7″ ESV

When life or relationships are not going the way we want, we experience a certain amount of anxiety. We want to fix things. We replay situations in our minds and ask, “what if something different was said or done, would that have changed the outcome?” But this scripture says that we are to pray, and also thank God. What? Thank God for what I am disappointed in? Yes. Life is like a big jigsaw puzzle where the box is missing. We can only see the parts that have been put together so far. But God knows where all the other pieces go and someday we will understand it.

Looking at the Big picture

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Is this verse really talking about ALL things? Even our disappointments? Absolutely. At some point, we will understand just how God will use everything for good that we wish was not happening.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

“The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10

What kinds of things do people often think they need?

  • to marry a certain person
  • to be married by the time they are a certain age
  • to have a certain job.
  • to make a certain grade point average.
  • the list could go on and on.

When we know Jesus personally, Scripture says that we shall not lack any good thing. Do we believe that?

What if we never are married? For most people that would seem like we are lacking something good. But is it possible that God has something better for us and we just don’t understand it yet?

I must confess that my disappointments tell me that I don’t always believe God when He says that I will lack no good thing.

How to overcome disappointment spiritually

How do you deal with disappointment spiritually? The first way is to recognize the truth. We have expectations that may not be realistic.

“Researchers have found that there’s no guarantee that if you get the things you want you’ll be happy—in fact, there’s quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.” Psychology Today.

While this quote is not from the Bible it contains truth. Scripture says in everything give thanks, which is the opposite of disappointment. When we acknowledge the truth about our expectations, as well as God’s expectations, we will be on the road to overcoming disappointment. The truth sets us free.

How to overcome disappointment

Life is too short to feel disappointed most of the time. So let’s tackle these monsters head-on.

How to overcome disappointment in people

We must approach life with the attitude that everyone will disappoint us at one time or another. We can count on it.

  • Our family
  • Our significant other
  • Our friends

The only one who does not disappoint is Jesus. “For the Scripture says whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” NASB 1977. Many other versions of the Bible use the words “put to shame” in place of “disappointed”.

So how are we to overcome the predictable disappointments that come from people?

  • Don’t ever assume that they know your expectations. People can’t read your mind.
  • Try to put yourself in their shoes. What could have caused them to do what they did or did not do? Being tired? Not feeling well? Too much going on at work? Raised with a different set of rules?
  • Ask yourself, “Why am I disappointed? Do I need this behavior to be happy?Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Will it matter when we are all dead and gone? “
  • Are your expectations realistic or are they set too high? No one is perfect.
  • What are the good characteristics about this person that you can appreciate?

Asking these questions will pave the way for forgiveness. We should never try to make anyone else responsible for our happiness. If we do we will be miserable most of the time.

Joy comes from God alone and our relationship with Him.

How to overcome disappointment in life

All you have to do is Google “how to overcome disappointment” and you will find many articles on this subject. While there are many helpful hints that we will cover, most articles have an important piece missing that I want to cover first.

We live in an imperfect world. Life is full of situations that we wish would have turned out differently. We could go crazy trying to keep everything under control. The truth is, we just need to expect that life will not always be the way we want it to be. Here is the big picture and what we need to remember. God knows what is going on and He will use it for good. In Genesis when Joseph was sold into slavery, was later falsely accused of rape, and finally was thrown into prison for something he did not do, he learned that God still had good plans for him. He summed it all up in this verse:

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20

So what are some general tips about how to overcome disappointment in life?

  • Trust that God will use it for good
  • Don’t deny how you are feeling, but give yourself a set amount of time to reflect, then move on.
  • Don’t keep thinking about what happened. The more you think and talk about it the more disappointed you will be. Ruminating on negative things is sin. Scripture says that we are to think about positive things. (Philippians 4:8)
  • Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Self-pity can become a habit which leads to a miserable life.
  • Put things in perspective. Ask yourself, “will this matter 5 years from now?”
  • Thank God for the good things in life. Gratitude leads to happiness.

How to overcome disappointment at work

There will be times when we won’t get a promotion, or someone else will take credit for something we did. We might get assigned a task that we would prefer not to do. (I am not talking about tasks that would violate our values.) But like everything else in life, things will not always go the way we would like on the job. When we are disappointed at work:

  • Don’t make rash decisions based on the disapppointment. Things might not be as bad as you initially think they are. Give yourself time before making any decisions that might make things worse.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply. Get your emotions under control before responding.
  • Evaluate if you are living up to your job description. If not, make sure you are doing everything you are supposed to do.
  • As mentioned previously, find the good things that you can thank God for, even if they seem small. Gratitude is your ally.
  • Trust that this too is not too big for God to use for your good and His glory.

One of the most humiliating job experiences that I ever went through was being forced to resign. It was essentially being fired. I was good at my job but could not comply with cutting corners that would hurt other employees. I had been unhappy at my job for some time but needed the income.

Did God use this job loss for something good? Yes, He did. My new employment was much less stressful and I never had to take work home with me. I had more time for my family and for myself. The company that forced me to resign meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

How to overcome disappointment in yourself

Disappointment in ourselves can be the hardest one to overcome. Why? Because we are usually harder on ourselves than on anyone else. We often expect more from ourselves than others.

It is easy to see our less-than-perfect life as a failure. Perfection is a cruel taskmaster. I like this quote from Dr. Eric Zeilinsky:

“I never loose. I either win, or learn.”

The next time you are disappointed in yourself, remember that it is an opportunity to learn and grow. These moments in life can be used by God to conform us to the image of Christ. They knock off our rough edges and polish us into a beautiful gem.

Final thoughts on how to overcome disappointment

Disappointment is a part of life because we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. It is not a sin to be disappointed unless it becomes our way of life. We must trust that God is bigger than our disappointments. We can trust Him to turn our not-so-perfect situations into something good, even the ones that others meant for evil.

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