Disappointment is the hardest emotion to manage.
Disappointment happens when our expectations do not match our reality. Have you ever experienced disappointment? I want to honestly share with you about some disappointment I encountered on our family vacation this past week and some truths God is teaching me in the midst of the disappointment.
Excited to go to Glacier Park, we boarded our plane. The week before had been crazy with the local fire and my sister, her family and 3 dogs living with me for an entire week. I could not wait to leave California and head to the beautiful lakes and mountains in Montana. Finishing our first leg of the trip, I gasped as I read my friend’s text: Glacier Park was on fire. I could not believe the words I was reading. I wanted to cry and scream all at the same time. Disappointment was rearing its ugly head.
What do you do when disappointment strikes?
1. Be honest with how you are feeling.
Before I could move past this negative emotion, I had to be honest with how I felt. I was disappointed that our trip was not going as intended and that we were going to have to miss some of the fun hikes and adventures that I had planned. Sharing with my family and friends about my disappointment, I put a voice to my feelings and in return received empathy from them. Many times people just try to ignore this negative emotion and say, “I am fine” when really they are not. Expressing honestly how you feel and receiving comfort will help when dealing with the hard emotion of disappointment.
2. Don’t get stuck in this place of disappointment.
My loved ones offered great perspective that evening. Even though my trip may look different than what I planned, they encouraged me that I was still making memories with my kids. So, taking their advice we made the best of it and took a full day and drove to the east side of the park. Honestly, this was my favorite day in Montana. Hiking to St. Mary’s falls, we talked, laughed and just enjoyed our time together. The memories are priceless!
I wish I could say that this was the end of my struggle with disappointment. Sadly it was not. I want to be honest and say that I am a work in progress and much of what I am writing today are words that I needed to hear!
The next couple days, there were a bunch of small mishaps that by themselves were not a big deal but as they each added up, it left me feeling disappointed once again. For example, a missed turn to a waterfall on our way to Idaho or a ticket mix up that caused us an hour delay… leading to the final disappointment that just about pushed me over the edge. The air quality in Idaho took a drastic change for the worst; it went from unhealthy to hazardous our last 2 days because all the fires in neighboring states. At this point, I had to stop and really reflect on what is God trying to teach me about disappointment. Here is what I am learning and trying to put into practice.
3. Avoid extreme statements.
When things go wrong, I have a tendency to go “all bad”. I start using words like always and never. If I stop and really evaluate the situation, life is not all good or all bad but actually somewhere in the middle. As a recovering vacillator, this has been a huge growth step for me and I needed to be reminded of this truth on my vacation. We may have hit a couple hiccups but overall, my boys and I had an amazing time together. We created special memories even with the poor air quality and the fire.
4. Change your focus.
Just like before, I needed to change my focus. Am I going to dwell on the negative or am I going to shift my perspective to the positive? We get to decide what our minds stay focused on. I knew God wanted me to let go of the “perfect” family vacation that I had planned and focus on the special memories He had orchestrated for my boys and me. If I can be completely honest with you, as a number one on the enneagram, I struggle with wanting perfect. But life will never be perfect this side of eternity. For all my fellow “ones” out there, let’s continue to learn to let go of perfect and fully embrace God’s best for us instead.
I can honestly say that this vacation has truly been a growing experience for me on how to manage my disappointment. My kids can attest that I am a work in progress as I had several mini meltdowns along the way. However, each one taught me this important life lesson:
My disappointing circumstance is actually an opportunity to invite God into the situation to help me change my focus.
Friends, I hope you can learn from my mistakes. Disappointments will happen on a daily basis and my prayer is that these growth steps that I am learning will help you next time you face disappointment in your life.