handling disappointment

3 Ways to Respond to Disappointment

The only thing worse than being disappointed is being disappointed by someone you’re close to.The only thing worse than being disappointed is being disappointed by someone you’re close to. But handling disappointment is just a natural part of life and to be expected. I often tell men, “We all have an appointment with disappointment. The only question is, how are we going to respond when disappointment shows up knocking at our door?”

But believe it or not, handling disappointment doesn’t necessarily have to be a buzz kill if you just take 3 cautionary steps.

1. Manage your expectations of others.

I have a saying: “Unmet expectations lead to frustration.” But I guess I can add that it also leads to disappointment. There’s nothing wrong with expecting someone to keep his or her word, accept responsibility, and be counted on. But we have to manage our expectations by realizing that we’re all only human, and capable of “not following through.” And we have to decide how we’re going to respond before others disappoint us.

For instance, whenever I come home from a speaking trip, my wife almost always asks to pick me up from the airport. After giving her my arrival time and texting her before I get on my return flight, my wife still manages to be late picking me up. Am I disappointed? Yes. But by managing my expectations, I’ve pre-planned what I’m going to do if she doesn’t show up on time–in order to maximize the wait. What’s the result? I avoid an unnecessary argument when she arrives and I focus on what’s most important: making it home safely to my family.

2. Be thankful for what you receive from others.

When my wife arrives late to pick me up at the airport, I’m upset, because I’ve been traveling all day, driving, flying, waiting in lines. However, during that wait time, not only am I thankful to God for arriving home safely, I also intentionally go out of my way to thank my wife for agreeing to pick me up from the airport. Because having traveled all day by driving and flying, the last thing I want to do when I arrive is get in my car and drive some more. So, even in the midst of my disappointment, I’m able to find something to be thankful for—my wife sacrificing her schedule to pick me up.

The truth is, no matter how much others disappoint you, if you search hard enough, you’ll still find something you can be thankful for while handling disappointment. But you have to look for it, because if you’re not careful, disappointment can blind you.

3. Look at the intention of others, not your feelings.

Feelings were meant to help us, not control us. And when it comes to dealing with people, if you don’t take control of your emotions, your emotions will take control of you. And trust me, your feelings won’t care where you end up. When it comes to disappointment, most people are not intentionally setting out to let us down, betray us, or break their word. They’re just like you and me. They’re flawed, imperfect, human beings doing the best they can the best way they know how.

So, when it comes to dealing with people close to you, focus on their intentions, and their love and concern for you, not your feelings about how they’ve disappointed you.

If you remember these 3 tips, your next appointment with disappointment won’t be one you try to avoid, but rather an opportunity you take advantage of.

Sound off: What are some ways you deal with disappointment?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When have you been disappointed and how did you handle it?”