Some Management Advice For Disappointment*
We are fallen creatures and as such we don’t always behave well. Knowing and accepting this fact is a good first step on the road to becoming a decent human being. As I often tell you, the worst battles in your life will be with your very self. With that in mind I would like to write to you this day on managing disappointments. Here are four thoughts on how to do this.
1. Manage your expectations.
Expectation, so I’m told, is the leading cause of disappointment. So, when it comes to managing disappointments, managing expectations is a preemptive action. What should we expect out of life? Well, one thing we ought to expect is a healthy dose of disappointment. If we expect it, then we won’t be disappointed when it comes.
Also, when disappointment finally does arrive, we should also be realistic about what it is exactly that we are disappointed about. As my good friend says, there’s a worm in everything. We are masters at building the things that we look forward to up in our minds to be bigger and better than they could have ever actually been. Such disappointments could be as big and encompassing as a career, or marriage, or something as small as a birthday party. But when, for whatever reason, a thing we are so looking forward to doesn’t com to pass, we need to first realize that our disappointment is not with the loss of the actual thing but rather the loss of an idea that we created in our minds.
Also, while we should have hopes, goals and dreams that are worth looking forward to or achieving, we should not hold them so tightly that we lose our sense of reality. I once wanted to play the guitar and sing. You both know that I can’t sing, which is something that I didn’t know when I first picked up the guitar. I can’t sing because I am somewhat tone deaf, which is also why I’ll never be able to play any musical instrument very well. Things like this, and much much worse, are going to happen. When they do, some of them will have the potential to change our course in life from that which we expected; and we can expect that. So it is important to manage those expectations and adapt, both in the big things and the little.
2. Manage Your Disappointments
You can find yourselves a little depressed for a few days when something small, like say a vacation, doesn’t end up happening. Or it can be devastating when that fiance lets you know that there’s been a change of heart. If we have managed our expectations well then hopefully we are more prepared to manage our disappointments. First there are things we should do, like being honest with ourselves and others. We should let those close to us know that we are battling disappointment, and ask their forgiveness for the times that this battle has spilled over into the relationship. Ask for grace from those you love, and extend grace to those who are not handling your behavior well. We should grieve if grief is due. And we should realize that time will heal our wounds. Your life will not be made by a few successes, nor will it be ruined by a few failures and disappointments. It will be an accumulation of successes and failures, wins and losses, victories and defeats of all types that will end up making your life what it will be, and you who you are. Learning to manage disappointments well will make it easier and quicker to climb out of the valleys when they come. So begin now to learn how.
3. Manage Yourself
It is a learned skill to manage one’s self, though it does take some longer than others. The learning process will be quicker if you realize that you are in the midst of just that, a process. You will find that this process will be a life long venture that ever requires development and attention.
You can start with your thought life. As I always say, think about what you’re thinking about. Manage your thinking so that you don’t descend into an emotional pit. If we actively attempt to direct our thought life it is actually possible to gain some semblance of control over it. This will go a long way in helping you to manage your emotions and so manage yourself.
Second, ask for help. Everyone, either knowingly or unknowingly. manages themselves in some way. When you know someone who does this well, try to glean from their abilities. But also keep in mind that everyone’s disposition is not the same. Some are simply predisposed to dealing with adversity better than others. But neither is anyone stuck with who they are. Growth is always possible.
4. Manage Your Relationships
There is probably nothing external to yourself that will determine your destiny more than the company you keep. Some friends will feed your disappointment with words of rage. You will be strangely drawn to their affirmation of your disappointment as it feeds a monster within, and your own thoughts will grow increasingly bitter. This is Godlessness and it leads to misery.
There are some friends however who will come along side of you and give you a measure of comfort. But they will also help you overcome your disappointment by assisting you in getting beyond it. They will have grace for your failures, and will desire what is best in you and for you. They can also help you gain some perspective that is outside of yourself and your current trial, and can help you see more clearly the reality that, no matter what the disappointment, not all is lost.
For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that you choose relationships wisely. Realize when someone is aggravating a situation, or is helping to heal it. Also, with this in mind, be the friend to others that you need for yourself when your friend or loved one is walking through disappointment. Learn from good friends how to be a good friend and be willing to teach the same in a loving way.
My dear children, I wish that I could say that I have lived up to this advice. But, as I am well aware that you know, and that you know that I know, this has not been the case. Still, I think that you would agree that I am not the same now as I was, and in fact have grown in my abilities to manage these things also. And that’s just it. Growth is what I expect from you, and it is also what you should expect from yourselves. I pray that God will give you the wisdom early to have success in managing this thing we call our flesh so that your lives will be Godly, and filled with as much happiness as one can expect while living in this sin soaked world.