Have you ever wondered why we get so upset when things don’t go as we painstakingly plan in life? You may be thinking, that’s a stupid question, it’s normal to be upset when things don’t turn out like we want them to; end of story. But is it? It’s true that disappointment is an inevitable part of life, but if it’s stealing your joy or leading to discouragement, maybe it’s time to take a look at what could be driving it.
Disappointment is the result of a blocked goal, a hurt; or perceived loss of some kind. Loss usually gives rise to feelings of anger, hurt, rejection or sadness. I wanted something to happen that didn’t, or I didn’t want something to happen that did. The most important thing to consider is the message your disappointment is trying to convey.
Each of us has attached a meaning to the situations and events in life that have caused us pain or disappointment. When those add up it’s easy for discouragement to set in. How do you know if you’re discouraged? Let’s take a look:
- Chronic feelings of anger or depression
- Focus is on the obstacles
- Divided heart and mind
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feelings of failure
Our beliefs provide clues as to why we struggle with discouragement. So we need to notice what we’re telling ourselves that’s causing our joy to be stolen. Here are some examples-- see if any fit for you.
If things don’t go as I plan, I tend to believe the following about myself:
- I’m a failure
- I’m inadequate
- I’m not good enough
- I won’t be happy unless …
Most of our discouragement comes from judgments we make about our performance or our intrinsic worth. If you said yes to any of the above statements, you’re forgetting a very important truth. You are full and complete exactly as you are---apart from your performance! How do I know that? Because Jesus said we have been given fullness in Christ (Colossians 2:9). In I Peter 1:3 he said, “His divine power has given us everything for life. The word everything here means everything! So whether you feel like it or not, the truth is, you are totally complete, adequate, acceptable, valued, and secure in Christ. That’s the best discouragement buster I know.
Looking through a different lens
King Solomon was disappointed with life too. He received fame and became greater than all who went before him. He obsessed about success and every worldly pursuit. His conclusion: “Vanity of vanities.” This word means “emptiness, futility, or meaninglessness.” Solomon decided there was only momentary pleasure for all his toil, and each time he repeated it, he got less enjoyment from it.
Solomon counted the cost for success and concluded that nothing would satisfy. No amount of fame, fortune or pleasure. We too must ask ourselves if all the “chasing after the wind” will ultimately satisfy our souls. The point of Ecclesiastes is that God intends for us to have joy, but real joy comes from His hand and begins with accepting that He is in charge of our lives no matter what circumstances or disappointments we face. When we understand that, we can view discouragement through a different lens, one that assures us that God is still up to something even though we’ve been let down.
When we look through the lens of possibilities we can change or modify our beliefs about success and failure. Here are a few discouragement busters to consider:
- Focus on the bigger picture
- Watch for negative self talk
- Place your faith in God not in your circumstances
- Appropriate your identity in Christ
- Cultivate an attitude of gratefulness
What disappointments are you facing today? What beliefs are robbing you of the joy that is already yours in Christ? Begin today to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness by refusing to let life’s disappointments steal your joy.
About the Author: Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and Consider This. Her shows can be heard on 90.9FM in Lynchburg, Va. and 90.5 FM in NC, and on BlogTalk Radio. Her devotional spot, Consider This, will be airing on Community Radio Network. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in magazines like Counseling Today and Thriving Family Magazine. Her book, Sifted As Wheat: Finding Hope and Healing Through the Losses of Life is currently with Hartline Literary Agency awaiting publication. Follow her at www.siftedaswheat.com, on FB at Rita A. Schulte, MA, LPC and twitter at heartlinepod. Her blog, Life Talk Today is www.siftedaswheat.com/blog.