NAVIGATING THROUGH DISAPPOINTMENTS.
By: Sir Uzor Nwachukwu
(For: Noble Youth Association Inc. Lecture Series)
Disappointment can be referred to as that strong feeling of dissatisfaction that results when your expectations are not realized.
The first point we must establish here is that, EVERY human being (mark that word ‘every’) experiences dissatisfaction or disappointment concerning diverse issues, or life expectations, from time to time.
Therefore, we can safely adduce that, feeling of dissatisfaction or disappointment is natural to humanity. In fact, even divinity occasionally also experience feeling of dissatisfaction.
I am very certain that Jehovah, our Lord, was very disappointed when Lucifer, one of HIS archangels, decided to rebel against HIM, against established heavenly protocol. I am equally certain that the fall of Adam and his darling, Mama Eve, at the Garden of Eden, was a very dissatisfying and disappointing experience for our Lord God. Ditto, for the decision of Cain that culminated in his murdering of his only brother, Abel. There are too many citeable cases in the Bible. Even the case of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who was at the time instant very hungry, and duly expected to find fruits on a Fig tree HE created for the purpose of bearing fruits for human consumption (Mark 11 Vs 13 – 14). Jesus was so disappointed that He cursed the tree.
Therefore, I can safely posit that both humanity and divinity face disappointments, every now and then.
If this is so, why then do you want to kill yourself over a natural life course that is not purely limited or concentrated on you alone? A situation that even GOD, your Creator, confronts occasionally.
That you are right now enmeshed in disappointing situations is no reason to end your life; or abandon your dreams; or destroy your future. Dust off the dust, put yourself together, encourage yourself, and move on. Like it is said, ‘there is always light at the end of the tunnel.’
What then are the necessary steps that can help someone navigate through Disappointment?
The very first step you ought to take when disappointed over a situation, or the outcome of an expectation, would be to:
- Acknowledge the fact.
Do not try to jump into a self deluding cocoon of denial of reality. Admitting to yourself that the outcome is far below your expectations would be a step in the right direction towards healing, learning critical lessons, and improvement; whereas denying the fact will create more hurt and heat from the bottled up frustration inside of you, ensure you are chained in perpetuity of recurring failures, since you may see no need for re-evaluation, strategy review, and knowledge-improvement.
- Separate ‘yourself’, as a personality, from the failure.
Do not see yourself as the Disappointment. This is very important. Just as you must not see yourself as a failure because you failed in a thing; same way, you must not grade yourself “a disappointment” because of a disappointing outcome concerning an expectation, and replace yourself with the experience. No! Very many people often attribute the negative life occurrences to their personal failings. They resort to self humiliation and blame, consequently creating a personal image of never-do-well for themselves. This is absolutely wrong. You are You, while circumstances and situations of life are what they are.
- Re-evaluate your original goal / expectations.
The underlying rule in this principle would be: – Never set for yourself unattainable goals and bogus expectations. In other words, do not wake up one morning at the age of 20, feeling kinky, and tell yourself that at the age of 25 you will want to become like God: Omni-everything. That will be akin to setting yourself up for mega disappointments and guaranteed disaster. My point is that, your goals, even if lofty and high, must be humanly achievable, given requisite time period, necessary work, and enabling environment. Once your set goals are attainable you can surely attain them, ceteris paribus. Someone once said ‘Expectation is the root of all heartache’.
Looking at disappointments that are linked with our relationships with others, I would like to quote the Harvard Business Review (Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries): “We experience disappointment when our hopes and expectations are out of line with reality…. Though there are disappointments that may not make much difference to us, there are some that can change the course of our lives…. When disappointment occurs regularly, it may be advisable to re-evaluate our perceptions and behaviors. We can examine whether we are inviting disappointment. Could we have been clearer in our communication of what we were expecting from others? Do we really know what we expect from ourselves? Are we listening to what others are saying to us? Could we have done something different to arrive at a different outcome?”
- Evaluate what can be salvaged out of the situation.
Sulk a little, if necessary; count your loss, where applicable; but ensure you take home with you the necessary lessons learned from the experience as your minimum take away. Nothing, no situation, is ever too bad and worthless to the point that you lose resource, relationship, and knowledge, all at the same time. Concerning Thomas Edison, the man that invented the electric light bulb, and the thousands of times he experimented with his invention until he finally succeeded; that he never failed for once all through the attempts; but rather, found ten thousand ways not to make a light bulb.
Learn the lessons from your disappointments, and apply them in your future endeavors. When the first Adam failed, though created him a full grown man, put in a beautiful garden, with wife to match; God the Father, decided that the second and last Adam (our Lord, Jesus Christ) would not come as a fully grown man, but be born as a baby, in a manger, by a virgin. Even God, takes lessons from disappointments, takes stock of what can be salvaged, and changes strategy.
- Encourage yourself, and move on.
People react to disappointments differently. While it may drive some into their shell and force them to set very low vision targets for themselves so as to reduce chances of further disappointments; for some other people disappointments are fuel that drives them to set higher targets for themselves. The important thing here is to ensure you are not snared into the web of perfectionism, where you expect everything thing to turn out perfect at all times, just because you are involved. In your plans and expectations create room to accommodate disappointments when they occur. You are only human and living among humans too; and none of you is infallible. Learn to laugh at circumstances that seek to make you sad. Make great effort not to dwell on sad experiences. Sustained negative rumination will never bring the desired change, but will rather gradually slip you deeper into the ocean of bitterness, and depression; and you end up being a harbinger of sadness, frustration and anger. You cannot make progress in that state.
A story is told of how Winston Churchill had a disastrous First World War experience at Gallipoli, which forced him to resign his position as the First lord of the Admiralty. He had a plan (later referred to as Churchill’s folly) to send a fleet through the Dardanelles Strait and capture Constantinople, believing the plan will force Ottoman Turkey to quit and surrender. However, the plan failed woefully and thousands of people died. Churchill was disgraced and demoted. Yet, after all the humiliations and shame hurled at him, he refocused his attention away from politics, and soon became an Infantry officer, and joined the fight in France. The rest is history, as Churchill is acknowledged today as one of the greatest leaders to have come out of Europe.
No matter the nature, shape, or height of disappointments that may confront you from time to time, or once in a long while, you owe yourself a great duty not to let bitterness take root over you or others, and become a consuming fire. Though disappointments are inevitable, defeat is always a choice.
- End unnecessary comparisons.
The Word of God in 2nd Corinthians 10 vs. 12b says “…but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” The issue here is for you to realize that everyone may have the same experiences, in the same way, at the same time. It may be suicidal to begin to swim in comparison waters when going through a particular phase in your life where you seem to be constantly facing crushing challenges, while other folks you may know seem to be having ‘everything’ going for them. As our faces are different, so are our times, seasons, and divine purpose. While Joseph’s brothers were enjoying fellowship among themselves as siblings, plotting, planning, and executing whatever they wished with absolute precision, and having their way; the dreamer himself (Joseph), who had been shown double visions of his greatness, and how he would become so great that not only will his elder brothers bow before him in obeisance, but his parents too, was first cast into a pit (by the same people divinity had shown him he has dominion over), then sold into slavery, was falsely accused and sent to prison. Strings of disappointments and failures. However, when his time to shine came; boy-o-boy! It was a clear case of from Prison house to Palace. He became a Prime Minister in a country where he was a foreigner and in jail. In all his travails he never allowed disappointments sow bitterness as seed in his soul. He remained focused, believing in himself and the God whose Word he heard.
- Finally, Look unto Jesus! The Author and Finisher.
There are many devises in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand. (Proverbs 19 vs. 21.)
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21 vs. 2)
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again… (Proverbs 24 vs. 16).
In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him. (Eccl. 7 vs. 14).
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29 vs. 11).
Sir Uzor Nwachukwu.