Emotional HealthHealing 3 minutes to read

It was Christmas 1978. I don’t know what I had received, but it sure as heck wasn’t a Barbie. Regardless of who tells the story, the photo really says it all. I was more than disappointed. I was down right ticked off. Today, my family and I laugh at the image that was captured, yet this week I was reminded how difficult it actually is to manage disappointment. I am not talking about spilling your just purchased coffee kind of disappointment, dropping your ice cream cone on the pavement kind of disappointed, or the canceling of The Office on Netflix kind of disappointed. 

I am talking about disappointment that unexpectedly plows you over in a way you never really saw coming. In the moment, thinking things were good, only to have this reality ripped from you, leaving you in a place of unforeseen disappointment or grief, lost in an unwanted process.

How do we respond in these moments? 

I tend to freeze and go numb before the wave of emotions hit. 

Many of us fight, sometimes with others, but often within ourselves—where no one will see the level of grueling vulnerability we are experiencing. There are a myriad of responses we can have when put under pressure; each of these revealing a belief system that has a potential to expose our inadequacies toward being resilient.

Resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy, or significant sources of stress. So what is required of us to gain resilience and grow through disappointment?

Manage Expectations

While some disappointments are not life changing, some are. Assessing the difference is key in recovering. Mild disappointments may require a reframing and readjusting of our goals, while life changing disappointments may require a grief process with a trusted friend or counselor. 

Regardless of which you may be facing, it is reasonable to set expectations where hope is a possibility.

Adapt A Healthy Coping Style

Even in the midst of disappointment, we have an opportunity to practice healthy behaviors: such as developing gratitude, daily self-care, engaging in activities that have meaning, or listening to music to boost our spirit. Even disengaging (not isolating) can be healthy when it is used to rest, recharge, and renew our mind.

Don’t Go It Alone

A common response to disappointment is to detach, pull away, and isolate. In the moment, this makes us feel safe; but isolation breeds depression and addiction. 

Even if you are not in a place to talk about what you are experiencing, simply being in the presence of someone who holds space for you can be incredibly impactful. When you are ready to talk, reach out to someone who will speak truth into your life and encourage your next steps.

Find Reasons To Laugh

Laughter: it’s not a joke, it’s science! Laughing provides a potent release of endorphins. It has an effect similar to antidepressants and has been known to boost the immune system. Even when we are wrestling with disappointment and sadness, when we purposely pursue things that make us smile and laugh our bodies receive the physiological benefits without hesitation. 

And lastly, one of the most important pieces to all this…

Focus On Faith

Faith in God must not be dependent on the outcomes in life or relationships. Faith is having a steady and, let’s be honest, sometimes unsteady grasp that all will be okay in the long run—because we have a God who sees us and cares about the details of our lives. Choosing to trust God while facing the unknown outcome can have a powerful effect on our ability to handle and grow through disappointment.

Friends, each step we take toward resilience produces growth. It often happens when we do what is familiar and then ride the edge just outside of our comfort zone. This is where rebounding from disappointment comes within reach. 

We all experience a wide range of disappointment in our lives. It is a part of our story as it unfolds. As Brene Brown eloquently says, “Darkness does not destroy the light. It defines it.” 

We must face it, own it, and bravely move forward letting the Word of God be our guide:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 NLT

Jennifer Howie

Jennifer is an Executive Assistant at Pure Desire. Seven years ago, she and her husband went through the Pure Desire Clinical Program. She has led several women’s groups and has served as a Regional Group Advisor. Jennifer is currently a certified Pure Desire online group leader. She is passionate about walking alongside couples, with her husband, as proof that the Pure Desire process works!

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