Wednesday, March 20, 2013

3 Tips to Overcome Disappointment

We all deal with disappointment. Sometimes we deal with it on a daily basis. Maybe at one time our lives sailed along in a way that made sense to us, but a storm directed us somewhere unfamiliar. We adjust to find our destination, but the journey takes a toll. The blue waters that once enchanted now seem endlessly...blue. We're desperate for land, for the sight of a seagull--anything but the sea we're surrounded by.

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.

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Some of us live with disappointment that will not be solved. It might lessen, but it will never go away. A barren womb, the death of a loved one, terminal illness, financial burdens. Life can be ugly.

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!

26 comments:

  1. Oh yeah, going on ANY social media when I'm down--gets me every time! I have to stay away from that, my phone itself some times b/c it's much too easy to p/u and "just check" my email and FB and then I'm toast!
    Love that verse too - I quote from a slightly different version that says "sound mind" in place of "self discipline"--I need both, so think I"ll just tag them together from now on:)

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    1. Social media can be so addictive! And I don't know why I'm drawn to it when I'm down--it's like I know I'm just going to feel bad so why do it?? :)

      I like that version too. There are so many great translations of that verse.

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  2. I think everyone has green eyes now and then. Hard not to as you said when you see family and friends that are "successful". I have a small journal where I try to focus on the little blessings: cup of tea with a friend, lunch with my girlies. Just something positive which helps push those negative thoughts away. Oh, an chocolate is a miracle drug.

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    1. I do the same, CJ! I have a slim journal I keep in my purse. I jot things in it all the time--mostly positive things--it really helps. And, yes, chocolate!!

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  3. Jill, what a wonderful and needed post. When I'm feeling weak, I stay away from social media as well. I distract myself with many of the things you mentioned. I don't journal my feelings much. Which is odd since I'm a writer, but I rarely if ever do.

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    1. Thanks, Jess. You've been a huge blessing to me this year--I appreciate you!

      I go through journal spurts. Sometimes I'm scribbling and others times I'm not. :)

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  4. I thought about this the other day--lack of exercise! When it has been a while since I've worked out I feel it. My mood shift like a mudslide.

    Thanks for these powerful reminders today.

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    1. Oh, yes!! Exercise plays a big part in my mood. I always feel better after a workout!

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  5. Loved this, Jill. Just what I needed to hear today, on several levels. My trigger is definitely looking at others and comparing myself. When I focus on God and His plan specifically for ME, things are so much clearer.

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    1. It's hard (if not impossible!) not to Lindsay. I know. the only way to completely avoid comparing is to live in a void! I don't want to do that!

      Your point is wonderful--God does have a plan for each of us. We don't have to worry about it.

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  6. Social media can definitely be a trigger for me too. It's so hard not to compare myself to others. Your tips are great!

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    1. It's hard for all of us, I think. I had years where I really wasn't dissappointed, but the longer time has gone on, the more I battle discouragement. Comparing does not help!

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  7. When I'm feeling down, I talk with my husband, who is my biggest cheerleader, and I pray, pray, pray.

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    1. Aw, that is the sweetest tip, Keli, and a great one! Our spouses are terrific! And praying gets me through everything. ;)

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  8. Great encouragement! Social media is hard for me too.

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    1. I'm so relieved! It's like a dirty secret--this disappointment when we read constant cheery updates. I'm glad I'm not alone. :)

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  9. Jill, this was such a heartfelt and open post-- so full of the encouragement that you shine on others. Thank you so much!

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    1. Thanks, Amanda. I try not to be a Debbie Downer, but sometimes I think the less flattering parts of my journey need to be shared. Not everyone is an overnight success--and living with chronic disappointment can be tough. I'm so thankful for the writing community and for my faith.

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  10. Thanks so much, Jill, for the wonderful, much-needed wisdom today! You rock. Period. :)

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    1. Donna, you're always an encouragement to me. Thank you!!

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  11. A gloomy day can be a trigger for me--not rain, I like rain--just overcast bleh gets me down. I need to be especially self-aware on those days to catch any negative thinking.

    I SO identify with your feelings in #2. I'm much too prone to comparing myself to others. In the five years leading up to what began to feel like success in the world of writing I was forever looking at who had an agent, who got a book deal, who was doing BETTER than me.

    When I began to get good news I was actually a little bit hesitant to share it because I knew how hard it might be for some folks--whom I've come to care about very much--to hear. I know they're happy for me, but I also know how discouraging someone else's apparent success can be.

    But I think that's one of the blessings of traveling in Christian writer circles--we may experience jealousy, but we won't let it win the day. Ultimately, we're all out to share the Good News and I'm so glad to cheer and be cheered by such fantastic folks. (Like you!)

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    1. Battling gloomy thinking is so vital. I battle it more often than I like. I was very sure of myself the first years of submitting. My mantra was always, "if not this book, the next." But the longer this journey goes, the more I fight the comparisons. I also fight doubts about my writing. It's hard.

      I get what you're saying about not wanting to share the good news--I get it!! But we ARE happy for you, and want to share your good news. Plus, I love that the publishing industry is finally taking chances on new authors again. There was a year where hearing debut author contracts just didn't happen. :)

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  12. I love this post. When I get discouraged, I know that my focus has shifted from where it needs to be. It's on me, my desires, my agenda. And let's face it... satisfaction that comes from fulfilled desires is often fleeting. We enjoy it for a while but inevitably come back with a ravenous need for more. When I base my happiness on circumstances, I'll be disappointed eventually. Every time.

    What helps me is setting my gaze back where it belongs. On the Lord, who loves me. Remembering he is at work in me. Knowing his intentions toward me are kind. Reminding myself that he is good, all of the time, and can't be anything but.

    I hope I'm not sounding preachy here, because I sincerely believe this is the antidote to what ails us. It's taking my self-centered thoughts captive and choosing to align myself with the Spirit and yielding my desires over to him. Embracing the change he is working in us.

    Easy to say, tough to do. But every prayer we pray toward this end will bring peace in the disappointment.

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    1. Beautiful, Julie. I agree with you. When our hope is on the Lord, we have no need to compare or worry about what we want.

      Thank you!

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  13. Thank you for this, Jill. I've often found myself looking at other peoples' lives and comparing - and finding my own life lacking in so many areas. It's good to remind ourselves that other people do the same thing to us - they look at our lives and compare their own. This doesn't make me feel superior, no, it reminds me that others don't always see the details of my life that they wouldn't want to deal with - and when I compare myself to others, I wouldn't want some of the messy things they have to deal with, either. Does that make sense? Keep going, Jill! We'll all be celebrating with you soon!

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    1. Yes, it does make sense. I can't compare the good things I want and leave out the bad things others have. Some would envy me my healthy children, my status as a stay-at-home mother, my own good health. I wouldn't blame them! We all get a mixed bag in life. It's easy to pick-and-choose what we want to see that someone else has. :)

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