Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” ~Unknown

We’ve all been there. Standing in that moment, we needed something from a friend, family member, or coworker and they failed us. We just needed support, compassion, an action, a response, something – something different than what they gave us. In those moments it’s easy to do one of two extremes – withdraw or lash out in anger. But despite our immediate emotional feelings, we can choose to respond differently.

Adjust your Perspective – Sometimes it’s not about us. We’re not the only ones who have bad days or irritable moments. Yet, when we’re challenged by disappointment because of something another person did or didn’t do, we feel like it’s personal. They slighted us. But sometimes their response has nothing to do with what they think about us; rather it has to do with the load they’re carrying. When faced with a disappointing response or action, take a step back and reassess. Maybe their response isn’t about you at all.

Review your Expectations – Have you ever noticed that people aren’t mind readers yet we often expect them to do just that? We’re upset they didn’t do something we wanted them to do but we never expressed our expectation. We want to celebrate a birthday, holiday, or milestone a certain way but we don’t share that with anyone. We just think they should know. Or, we have emotional needs that we don’t convey. Take a step back and ask if you’re expectations are realistic. Have you communicated what you want or need? Then ask are they the right person to provide whatever ‘it’ is? For example are you asking a coworker to be empathetic when maybe a friend would be a better source? Review your expectations and adjust as appropriate.

Express Yourself – Process your hurt or anger internally or through talking with someone who can help you think clearly about the situation, then clear the air with the person who disappointed you. Communicate clearly. Avoid “always” and “never” (you always…) If you don’t want to repeat the same situation, it’s important to let the other person know how you feel. Otherwise, they won’t know for the next time.

Offer Grace – Have you ever noticed how easy it is to offer a piece of our mind when someone disappoints us? Why did you, why didn’t you, you should have… Our finger is quick to wag in judgment of the other person. Replace the “you’s” with “I’s” I’m feeling, I hoped, I need. And, consider if this is an opportunity for you to offer grace to them rather than your anger. See the situation from their perspective. Understand that they too are carrying their own burdens. Consider grace as your response. You’ll be amazed how much doing so can heal your own hurt or disappointment.

Establish Boundaries – There may be times when disappointment is a cue that a boundary needs to be established. Has the person who disappointed you regularly let you down? Are they unreliable yet you continue to hope they’ve changed? In such cases, allow your disappointment to help you reevaluate the relationship. Have you offered trust when it hasn’t been earned? It’s possible to forgive someone for what they’ve done yet not trust them or give them access to continue to disappoint you. Reassess the relationship and establish distance or boundaries if appropriate.

The next time disappointment catches you off guard, be empowered with these responses. Allow yourself to be disappointed temporarily but don’t let it turn into discouragement that pulls you away from your goals. Pray for wisdom and healing of your heart in the situation and press on. Don’t give up. Don’t let words or actions of someone else to deter you from embracing life!

What do you do when you’re disappointed? Are you likely to respond with a knee-jerk reaction or what do you do? Which one of these responses gives you helpful insight? Click on the comment button and join the conversation.