Have you ever wondered why you get so upset when things don’t go as you’ve painstakingly planned? 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? Yes, disappointment is an inevitable part of life, but if it’s leading to discouragement or depression, 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. This usually gives rise to feelings of anger, hurt, or rejection. 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.
All of us have 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? Here are a few ways:
- Chronic feelings of anger or depression
- Consistent negative self-talk
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Feelings of worthlessness
Our beliefs provide clues as to why we struggle with discouragement. So we need to notice the negative attributions we’re making about ourselves that are keeping us stuck. Here are some examples– see if any fit for you.
If things don’t go as I plan, I tend to believe the following:
- 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 adequate in Christ. That’s the best discouragement buster I know.
Here are a few others:
What you think or feel isn’t necessarily the truth
Feelings aren’t facts, but we make them into facts in the following ways: I FEEL inadequate, therefore, I BELIEVE I’m inadequate, and so I ACT in ways that demonstrate I’m inadequate. We have to STOP negative self-talk, and START replacing it with God’s truth
Your performance doesn’t define you
We all want to do our best, but in the process we’re perfecting ourselves to death. We spend so much time basing our intrinsic worth on what we “do” we’ve forgotten that developing a sense of who we are is far more important to God
Life’s disappointments can make you stronger
Disappointment is a part of life. How we deal with it can generate growth and possibilities. In order to bounce back from discouragement we must cultivate a resilient spirit by focusing on our strengths, refusing to quit, cultivating our dependence on God, and looking at the big picture
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.
Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast. Her show airs on several radio stations as well as the Internet. They can be downloaded from www.ritaschulte.com/category/podcast or on iTunes at Heartline Podcast. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, and Christianity Today, Kyria. Her book on moving through the losses of life will be released in Fall 2013 by Leafwood Publishers. Follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on Facebook and twitter @heartlinepod.