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How to Have Hope When Life is Disappointing

It’s not supposed to be this way. You had big dreams and great expectations only to have them smashed by the reality that life is disappointing.

What do you do?

How can you persevere when you feel like there’s no hope for change. It’s just the way life is—one disappointment after another—right?

It feels like relief and change are so out of reach.

Friend, I know this is how you feel right now and for that I’m sorry that you feel like reality is disappointing.

There was a time in my life too where I had dreamed dreams only feel like none of them ever came true.

So for years I numbed that part of my heart. That’s how I felt and that’s how I lived.

Until…my husband began asking me,

“What are some dreams that you have?”

And my immediate answer was, “I don’t dream because reality is disappointing!”

You see I had neglected that part of my heart so much that I couldn’t even remember what dreams I had actually had for my life. For years I secretly internalized my struggle with the reality that life is disappointing.

I wasn’t really excited about life—because the disappointment and heartache was too great for me. So I just stopped.

I stopped dreaming.

But as a result of my husband’s genuine interest in my heart, I started down a path of reclaiming hope. And I began to learn that life is disappointing because I didn’t really know how to handle the disappointment.

And…I discovered that most people are unprepared for how to handle disappointment.

It's not supposed to be this way. Life is disappointing and feels like nothing turns out like you thought. But there's something you can do to regain your hope.

Take for instance the month of March. It’s been said that March is the saddest month of the year.

Why? The Bachelor ends for the season, right?

Aside from the sad fans and those celebrating the bachelor’s chosen one, what about the girl who suddenly is faced with reality—life is disappointing?

Now, I have to be honest. I haven’t watched an episode of The Bachelor in like…10 years. But…I do know a lot of you are drawn to it—some of you can’t even wait for the next show to come on.

It’s that addicting.

Today I won’t go into why I don’t watch the show…But, there’s one thing that I do know about The Bachelor—it is a classic example of why we struggle when life is disappointing.

What causes disappointment?

Reality is disappointing. Somewhere in the messiness of life, we all will experience failure and unmet expectations. If you look at the The Bachelor, there’s 24 women that get sent home.

Each of them know the odds—they have a 1 in 25 chance of being chosen. But, I bet that most if not all of them have great expectations that they are going to be—the one.

I mean that’s what makes the show so enticing to watch, right? Because we all know that there’s really only one woman who get’s chosen. So when the 24 women who aren’t chosen get sent home, for those women—reality is disappointing.

They think they’re the world…but they didn’t get chosen and they’re not getting married.

So what’s next?

As you think about The Bachelor—have you ever thought about that part?

Few women are really prepared for that level of disappointment. And many would consider being sent home to be their greatest disappointment in life. How do they respond when they are faced with the reality that life is disappointing?

Now…how does that relate to you and me?

It helps us to understand what causes us to feel like life is a disappointing. To sum it up, disappointment happens when an expectation is not fulfilled. And the thing that makes it even worse is when you don’t know how to handle it.

So let’s talk about that a little—how do you respond when life is disappointing?

How do I stop feeling disappointed?

I’m grateful that nearly four years ago, I learned how to stop feeling disappointed. With God’s help, I realized that I had to change my mind about it.

First, we all face disappointment, but we don’t know when it will happen. The key is to be okay with the fact that life is disappointing. You can’t escape that reality.

Secondly, respond to disappointment by saying, “Well, that happened. So what did I learn and how did I win?”

Did you catch that?

Instead of allowing disappointment to eat you up inside or make you mad at someone else—you just took over control of your mind.

And if you don’t do this—take control when life is disappointing—then your thoughts will quickly cascade into bitterness and or self–defeat. Disappointment will end up dominating your life and controlling you.

I really like how Ruth Soukup from Living Well Spending Less shares how we can embrace less disappointment

“When we are willing to accept the fact that disappointment is sometimes inevitable, we give ourselves permission to quit wallowing, to learn from the experience, and move on. And it is in the moving on that we find all the joy and wonder that life has to offer.”

Is there someone who is continually disappointing you? How do you take control when reality is disappointing?

How do you deal with someone who is disappointing you?

Whether it’s a spouse, parent, friend, or even your kids, you will always have to deal with someone who is disappointing you. Really, it’s a normal part of relationships. You have expectations and likewise the people in those relationships also have expectations.

Rarely do relationships start with the same expectations for one another. While all relationships are unique, there’s probably at least one relationship in your life right now where someone is not doing what you think they should be doing.

Here’s three tips for how you might deal with someone who is disappointing you.

First, pray, ask the Lord to help you with the relationship. Revealing your heart and giving you insight into anything that you might be missing. And also that He would speak to the other person.

Second, start simple. Ask yourself the question; “Does this person even know you expect him to act or do something?”

Maybe the very thing that is disappointing you—that person doesn’t even know that it bothers you!

Other times the battle has been building up in your head so long that when it comes down to it—the thing disappointing you, is a misunderstanding. Like when you’ve sent numerous emails to someone only to find out that they never got one of them—so they have no idea you’ve been trying to get a hold of them!

Third, think about your expectations. Are they reasonable? Is this person capable of doing what you think they should be doing? Maybe you’ve expected them to do something for years—like planning ahead, or having good follow–up with you—and they just aren’t good at it.

If you notice, everything I mentioned is all things that you can do. Sometimes when someone else is disappointing you—there’s nothing you can do to change the circumstance. But YOU can change.

When you feel like life is disappointing, sometimes the best thing you can do is change yourself.

What if it’s your spouse that is disappointing you?

Shortly before I got married, I asked for advice from one of my mentors for how I could prepare for marriage. She completely caught me off guard by saying,

“Expect disappointment with your spouse. And figure out what you’re going to do with it.

And she was right. Reality is disappointing.

I love my husband, but he has disappointed me. And, likewise I disappoint him. I’m thankful for her advice, because I had prepared for it when it did happen, it didn’t devastate me. For me I’ve had to learn a lot about my strengths and my husband’s strengths—and I’m still learning every day about our Love Languages.

In times where I’ve wanted my husband to do something or act differently—it turns out that he either doesn’t have the skills to do it or the know how.

So while I’ve been hoping he’d do certain things…the truth is that he’s never going to do it. And because he’s not meeting my expectations what happens is that I tend to focus more on this—this what he actually does well.

And this…is one of the big things that Shaunti Feldhan, author of Surprising Secrets of Highly Successful Marriages, talks about:

“…a man’s greatest desire is to do something well—but since he doubts himself, his greatest need is for what he does to be noticed and appreciated.

In other words, sometimes the expectations you have of your husband reinforce how he already doubts himself.

Is your spouse the reason why your life is disappointing?

If you just read what I wrote and wonder…Oh my goodness…is that me? Then take a look at my post, How to Be a Better Wife. There’s a lot of good practical ideas for how you can strengthen your marriage relationship.

I also walk you through with practical ways for how you can talk more directly with your husband.

Healthy and open communication can develop a mutual understanding simply through the process of asking questions and talking through expectations. Communication helps bring clarity to your marriage.

Sometimes all it takes is us communicating directly to our husband by telling him exactly what would be helpful for you. Notice, I didn’t say, telling him what he needs to do for you. There’s a difference.

I also like the encouraging word that Jennifer Roskamp gives for when your husband disappoints you.

“When disappointment in our husbands arise, let’s work toward finding that perfect synchronization again through embracing these important truths and then exercising restraint while calling on our Father for help in accepting that although our emotions are human, we can choose to love our husbands with the perfect love that He covers us with every day.”

What do you do when you are disappointed with yourself?

Reality is disappointing because the truth is—sometimes we’re disappointed in ourselves. This is another thing we don’t really think about in advance for how we’re going to handle it. Disappointment with yourself can come in two different scenarios:

  1. You’re disappointed with yourself.
  2. Others make you feel like you’re disappointing them—so then you feel disappointed with yourself.

As moms we will always feel like we’re disappointing someone—from not doing something to not getting something done. And it will cause us to start thinking, “We’re just a mom”. It’s the lie of ordinary motherhood.

If you find that the reason life is disappointing is because of your own failures—there’s something you can do. I did. Read more about when I was failing as a stay at home mom.

For when others make you feel like you’re disappointing them…sometimes all it takes is an honest conversation.

For one of my friends, the struggle that she faced was feeling like she was a disappointment to her husband. Her husband would come home from work and rearrange her kitchen to how he thought it should be organized.

Yeah…eek!

At first she would get upset at him. Then she would cry about it. But eventually she was able to sit down with him and share how his actions were making her feel.

Keep in mind, when you have an honest conversation, this is not demanding that someone do something—but it’s helping that person understand you.

Use phrases like, “When you do this, it makes me feel this way.” Refrain from using words like, “You always” and “You never”.

These statements will ensure that your reality is disappointing! They will damage the health of your relationship rather than help.

How to Have Hope When Life is Disappointing

Today, when I feel like I’m the one who “got sent home” like the 24 women on The Bachelor. Or for times in life when I really feel like reality is disappointing, I can look at my situation with honesty and say, I won, I learned, or I can learn something.

Knowing what to do when life is disappointing helps me to persevere with hope. And you can have that same hope too!

Just like those 24 women—you have to consider that there is a possibility of your expectations never being fulfilled, ever. And so you need to know what to do when reality is disappointing in this way.

And it’s better to be prepared for it when it does happen.

So, to recap, when life is disappointing do this:

  1. Acknowledge that disappointment happens
  2. Look at disappointment as a way to win or learn.
  3. Be prepared for how you will handle disappointment when it happens again.

What is something I shared today that has encouraged you? Is there one thing you can learned today that will help you stop feeling like reality is disappointing?

It's not supposed to be this way. Life is disappointing and feels like nothing turns out like you thought. But there's something you can do to regain your hope.

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