3 Life Lessons Learned From Disappointment

Have you ever felt disappointed in something that didn’t turn out the way you thought, hoped or planned?

I’m sure you have.

I was just recently speaking with someone who had planned a proposal for many months and the day he was going to propose to his girlfriend she found out that her uncle had cancer. That proposal didn’t go ahead.

And then we have the trauma stories of how that 41 year old woman never woke up. The 21 year old boy dying of a heart failure. And trauma does not necessarily have to be only around death, trauma can also mean: the end of a special friendship. A job that was bringing in your financial stability is no longer there. A marriage you thought was going to last forever has ended.

There’s always going to be disappointment in life.

And we’ll use me as an example, what was meant to be a honeymoon filled with romantic photos of gorgeous sunsets in Greece, happy selfies with my hubby, eating endless amounts of feta, interspersed with swimming, drinking ouzo and reading and fitting in as much relaxation as possible, didn’t really unfold exactly to that vision.

After sharing with a friend that I got really ill on my honeymoon, she was looking at me in a way trying to figure out the ‘reason’ as to why this happened, because “Everything happens for a reason,” right?

It’s natural for human beings to unconsciously or consciously find a reason. We want to figure things out in order to gain understanding and get a sense of peace or control of our lives, however, what if there are just some things in life where things just happen for no reason at all, there’s no logic…it’s just life?

I learned that there are some things that happen in our lives that make no sense to the reasoning mind and best left to the mystical.

However, we can broaden our experience on the things in life that get us down and help us become more aware and grateful of what our most simplest joys in life are: the people closest to us that we love, a cup of coffee, a beautiful flower, a comfortable safe bed, inspirational books, and okay…Netflix.

Now, trying to find a positive in the midst of being ill on my honeymoon, I won’t lie, it was difficult. But I also knew that I needed to be careful to not entertain the thought, “Why is this happening to me?” Because whenever we hang out in this space we move into the victim territory and then the self-pity arrives. And once the self-pity arrives if you stay here for too long, it can turn into self-hatred, hopelessness, and even depression.

So what CAN we do?

Well, what I did was allowed myself to feel and not bypass the sadness because giving yourself permission to face what is lurking beneath your conscious mind puts your guard down and welcomes in the ‘good feelings.’

Further, I took all the disappointment and heartache and did my best to turn it into something meaningful.

Here are the 3 life lessons that I learned from disappointment:

1. Your spiritual growth doesn’t happen on a yoga mat or when life is working perfectly

It happens when you’re in the middle of a storm, or a conflict or you’re feeling scared and vulnerable and between stimulus and response, there’s an opportunity. An opportunity to notice that you can stop your habitual reaction by acting and saying something different. If you’re solely relying on your own understanding to bring you peace, this will be short-lived until the next disappointment comes along.

Here’s a helpful prayer for these times…
Lord, thank you for always being by my side through the storms. Even when life doesn’t make sense, I choose to trust in you and believe that you are working behind the scenes for my highest good (and the good of all). Amen

2. Every situation presents a choice to respond in fear or love

As you know by now, there are some situations in life where you’ll have no control over. These things just happen. How you experience events in your life is really up to you. Every thought you think, word you speak, and action you take comes from either love or fear. If you become disappointed, ask yourself, “What is the voice of fear saying to me?” Get clear on the words and energy of the critical voice. Then say, “I choose to not listen to you.” Then ask, “What would the voice of love and kindness say to me instead?” When you can recognize the difference between the fearful voice and the loving voice, you will know what to do and how to better live in the present moment.     

3. Who do you choose to be

If you want to be that person who is more resilient to the disappointments in your life, another way to do this is to interpret your situation to your advantage: choose to see your circumstance from a viewpoint that feels empowering rather than using it to drag you down. The facts do not change, but your perspective does, along with your experience. 

Now, this is not easy to do. But you do your best. Listen to podcasts, read books, and study anything that will help with your personal growth. And remember, no matter what happens around you or your current circumstance, it’s not who you are. This is just another fleeting season in your movie. It will pass. You are divinely supported and therefore not powerless. And so you can collect these moments and make something beautiful out of your “Why?”, gather some wisdom, and use this time to get into the best shape mentally, physically, and spiritually.

The rain doesn’t last forever, so when it’s time to enjoy the sunshine again you’ll think better, feel better, and live better because you chose to learn and grow in the midst of adversity.

I see you. I hear you. And I nurture the space you decide to be in.