Have you ever wondered why you get so upset when things don’t go as you painstakingly plan? You may be thinking that’s a stupid question; after all, 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 a perceived loss. Loss usually gives rise to feelings of anger, hurt, rejection, and/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, 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. 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 and 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.
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P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts; be sure to share in the comments section below. This month we will draw TEN winners from our commenters and the winners will receive one of these two books, Hope for a Hurting Heart or To Let You Know I Care by our featured author this month, Cheryl Karpen.
Rita Schulte is a licensed professional board certified counselor. She received her B.S. in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Rita has a private practice with offices in Fairfax and Manassas Virginia where she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety and depressive disorders as well as grief and loss issues. In April, 2011 she launched “Heartline Podcast” where she talks with top leaders in the Christian counseling and literary world about cutting edge issues affecting the hearts and lives of people today. She also airs a 1 minute devotional spot Consider This on 90.5 FM in NC and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, VA. Heartline airs on Saturday evenings on 90.5 FM NC and will be heard on Christian Life Internet Radio in the coming months. Her book, Sifted As Wheat: finding hope and healing through the losses of life is currently with Hartline Literary Agency. You can follow her at http://www.siftedaswheat.com or Twitter at Heartlinepod.
Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)