Handling Disappointment

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Parent help is one of the highlights of my week. I enjoy going in my son’s class to aid his teacher and other school staff. I enjoy working in a different school environment as a chaplain. And I loved helping in my daughters’ courses when they were kids too.

It strikes me, the more I am involved with school surroundings, just how holistic education is. It’s not only about the academic work or the’formative’ years. There’s very much a social dimension to instruction which carries through beyond college, even, hesitant as I say this, into life as a 50-year-old. We are always learning.

I was reminded of this as I watched my child interact in a class session on the mat. I found myself in his disappointment.

‘It’s what it is, son. Acknowledge it and move on.’

That is what I felt I heard God say to my spirit. It was both a private Word from my God to me, His child, in my disappointments, and from me to my son, as I agreed fully with the fact God showed me in his disappointment.

It’s inescapable. And we always feel as if we have been hard-done-by. If we are not careful disappointment grows legs and runs full tilt toward bitterness and headlong to the eventual’decoration’ of resentment.

As a five-year-old the disappointment seems obvious on the face, a heart that’s momentarily rejected, but they look quickly to get over it. But on a fifty-year-old that disappointment is often hidden in an’Oh, I’ll be fine… it’s really fine…’ when sometimes my soul is actually saying,’Gee, that hurt!’ And,’If I’m honest, I am stunned!’

The point is disappointment stings. We don’t expect not to get our way. And it reinforces feelings of injustice (‘it’s not fair!’) Or one of a range of other not-so-good feelings and attributions.

Two things we can do about disappointment: 1) acknowledge it occurred; we felt the sting of disappointment, and that that is okay, without judging it, and 2) Do Rats Have Bones, proceed. That’s right, we simply move on. We don’t offer the disappointment that communicates any more attention than it deserves.

I didn’t like it when it happened, but I am not going to let it define me.

Hard as it is, when disappointment occurs, it’s best to acknowledge it hurts, take guts to sense it, learn what you can, then let go and proceed.

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