Your Disappointments – What’s The Cure?
Expectations have a way of getting me in trouble – not in trouble with others, but with myself. Expectations are preconceived ideas about what something should look like. And whenever there’s a “should” involved, it’s a tip-off that something is amiss! I know – I’ve had first-hand experience with disappointment!
The bigger the expectation, the bigger the disappointment.
When my kids were young, a rather huge expectation of mine was exposed. I vividly remember the moment – I was doing laundry and contemplating life and its challenges and it suddenly hit me. I had somehow imagined that after getting married and having my three amazing kids that life would settle in at some point and we would “arrive.” IN my mind, arriving meant that we’d live in a home with a sweet picket fence, a yard brimming with flowers, and a well-manicured lawn. And life inside our home would be just as neat and tidy. After all, l worked hard to make it that way!
Reality wasn’t like that. My daughter had a chronic and life-threatening health issue growing up. We spent holidays in the hospital and had to be extremely cautious about who we came in contact with. It made life very unpredictable and complicated.
During that same season, my husband traveled for work. We also owned a business and I was homeschooling our children – a necessity with my daughter’s condition. And I was overseeing all things children at our church. It was a crazy season – a season that was far from picket fence worthy!
Here’s the expectation that got me in trouble: I believed if I did everything right, I would eventually arrive at a place where I could relax, be at peace, and enjoy the fruit of my labors. Then all that was hard would be behind me and I could coast. And at the time, coasting sounded very good!
But life isn’t like that. There will always be difficulties no matter how right or meticulously well I do all that’s before me. Circumstances will present themselves that are horrendous, like my daughter’s health issues.
And the trouble is that while I’m consumed with doing all the right stuff, I miss out the beauty of right now – all that’s amazing and good in the middle of the mess. Even in the worst of times, there’s something good!
That Funky Feeling
Recently, I was feeling low, a little blah. Everything was going well – no major hurdles for a change. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was feeling that way until I realized that my old pattern of high expectations had kicked back in. What I was feeling: disappointed again!
My lofty expectations don’t just show up in my personal life – they show up in my work and relationships too. Honestly, there’s no corner of my life free form my unrealistic expectations!
The real kicker: I rarely realize that my expectations are so high until after the disappointment sets in.
My expectations highlight what I really want – and that’s not bad.
The bad news, if left untended, disappointment can turn into depression, anger, shame, bitterness, disengaging – nothing good! And disappointment blinds me to all that’s good in my life; all the many ways God’s blessed me!
Next time you sense disappointment setting in, rather than letting it take over, why not do this instead…
1. Acknowledge It
Yes! Admit what the expectation was – what were you really hoping for? It’s the first step.
2. Recognize the Pattern
Over time you will notice a distinct pattern to your expectations. Mine often stem from my Fear Monster. My desires also have a way of setting me up for disappointment. The quicker you are to notice the pattern, the quicker you can do something about it.
3. Let It Go!
There’s no need to beat yourself up over having high expectations…again. That won’t do you any good. It’s just part of being human in a broken world. Forgive yourself. Forgive those who let you down. The consequences are far greater if you choose to hang on.
4. Shift To Gratitude
I get it – disappointment feels big! That’s why it’s crucial that you make a conscious choice to shift your perspective to all that you have to be grateful for! Don’t let disappointment keep you from seeing the many ways you are blessed. Even in the worst of circumstances, there’s something to be grateful for!
5. Spot the Need
Knowing what you need is powerful. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy to spot, especially if pinpointing your needs wasn’t something you were taught. I confess, I can be pretty oblivious to my needs, which causes me to attempt to get those needs met in unconscious and not so constructive ways.
God is the One who is supposed to meet my deepest needs and when that’s my focus, my needs get met in all sorts of other ways. But when I try to get my needs met outside Him, odds are high that I will find myself disappointed again!
6. Accept & Ask Yourself
I confess, I often struggle to accept what comes my way. I’ve been working on it, yet, after carefully planning something, I want it pan out the way I imagined. Do you see the set up there?
God is using the “not panning out the way I imagined moments” to teach me that He is always at work. He uses the good and the bad. Do I trust that He loves me and is able to make the most of this moment…in spite of what feels like chaos? What is He up to on my behalf?
I know from experience that His ways are much better than mine, so I have to ask myself, “Now what?” Will I trust and keep my eyes wide open to what He’s up to or will I let my disappointment get the best of me?
7. Flip It!
Don’t keep fooling yourself like I did. There is no picket fence! There will always be chaos and challenges. When you recognize that disappointment has settled in, flip it! Instead of being disappointed in the outcome, be disappointed that you had an unrealistic expectation again. Then adjust your expectations to reality. It takes practice, but over time you will get quicker and quicker at spotting your unrealistic expectations and quicker at flipping them around!
Don’t let your expectations steal your happiness or limit what opportunities look like! Life rarely plays out like we anticipated! It’s often better than imagined, especially if we trust and lean into Him.
My kids are grown, married, and have delightful families of their own now. I’m so proud of each one of them! And, I’m happy to share that my daughter’s health is great! In spite of the less than perfect journey during those difficult years, it’s been a wildly rewarding ride! Even the tough bits have taught me some life-giving lessons – lessons I wouldn’t trade for anything!
Where have your expectations led to disappointment?
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kitkana