It's hard when friends or acquaintances not only find land, but they find it quickly and shout out their joy to the world. Yes, we rejoice with them, but we're still in a boat, far away, with no real idea when or if we'll ever find what we're looking for.
I've always been fascinated by the idea of contentment. I don't believe contentment is something we find--I believe it's something we practice. How else to explain why some people with extreme wealth don't always enjoy their spoils, or why some people living deep in poverty find joy in so little.
While we strive for contentment, we need to overcome disappointment, and this is not a one-time occurrence. I routinely fight it, often daily. Here's how.
1. Rely on God
Read the Bible. God assures us He created us to be powerful. This isn't to say we should be boastful or proud. It means we do not need to be victims, cowering in a corner, wondering if everyone else is entitled to blessings while we rot.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."
Sometimes we are called to wait. Instead of assuming we've been forgotten (even when we have a very long wait), we must remind ourselves that God gave us a spirit of POWER, of LOVE, and of SELF-DISCIPLINE.
When the wait is long, the self-discipline part becomes vital. We must not sink into envy, despair, or martyr-mode. We must make the most of our time and live lives of meaning.
2. Avoid Disappointment Triggers
I've been trying to get published for years. I know my wait has been long, but I also know all the behind-the-scenes blessings the years have given me--things I wouldn't trade for anything. Knowing this doesn't stop my heart from twisting when I see others get what I want. I'm human.
When I'm tired or discouraged, I try not to spend much time on Facebook because that's where I see good news from my writer friends. And when I'm tired or discouraged, these updates do not bring a spirit of power and love and self-discipline to me--they bring out the opposite. Yes, I'm happy for them, but more than that, I'm sad for me. These announcements have a way of pushing me down the spiral staircase of disappointment.
I know my triggers and I avoid them when I'm weak.
You know what you want. Maybe it's a baby. Maybe it's a promotion, a boyfriend, your own home, a dream trip--whatever. When you're having a down day, avoid hanging out where you're bound to hear that someone else just got what you want.
I'm not saying to drop out of life or to hurt people close to you by avoiding them. I'm saying to be smart. Don't put yourself through needless pain.
3. Distract Yourself
We don't have as much control over life as we like to think. Someone trying to get pregnant has little say in if the test comes out positive or negative each month. Working for that promotion? Great, unless your boss hires her best friend. The house you desperately want to buy? Maybe someone puts an offer on it before you save your down payment.
Life doesn't always go our way.
We can't make life go our way.
We can go forward with life.
When I'm weighed down under disappointment, I remind myself I have a choice. I can wallow in it, or I can distract myself. My favorite ways to run from disappointment?
a. Choose to celebrate with my friends who have succeeded, reminding myself someday I will be celebrating too.
b. Read. Sometimes it helps to read about people who have it worse off than you do. For instance, I'm reading George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series (The Game of Thrones television series is based on it). Trust me--everyone in these books has it worse off than you!
c. Listen to uplifting music.
d. Journal. Not the spew-angry kind--I try to journal about what I'm doing to meet my goals or about something pretty or happy. Puts me in a grateful frame of mind.
e. Relax with loved ones. At the end of the day, my husband and kids love me as-is. I have nothing to prove to them, and it's nice to just be me.
f. Press forward. Disappointment has an ugly consequence. It can dupe us into thinking we don't need to work toward our goals any longer. Not true. Keep on.
g. Get away. Go to the mall, walk through a park, drive to a beach, buy some flowers, do anything! Just get out of your bubble for an hour or two.
h. Watch a movie. Movies bring the drama--they prod our emotions, anger us, inspire us. Go ahead, live someone else's life for 90 minutes.
Disappointment can be short-lived or chronic, but we don't have to wallow in it. Fight it! Aim for contentment.
What is one of your disappointment triggers?
Have a wonderful Wednesday!