The Promise of Personal Disappointment

When it happens, nobody likes to admit that their disappointment just might be a favor. It’s hard to see our way clear to such conclusions after we’ve tried hard to woo a particular love, win a particular job, or achieve some other goal that we really, really want and need. After all, we’ve poured our heart and soul into an effort that has fallen short—how can we possibly feel good about such setbacks?


The answer, of course, lies in seeing the bigger picture. Alas, so much of our culture and daily lives center on our immediate reactions to what’s around us. It is unfortunate that an emphasis by the media has been put on puerile emotional reactions because, as we see all too often with those dreadful reality shows, the squeaky, neurotic, narcissistic wheels get their palms greased. But that is Hollywood and we are not there.


Re-booters recognize (usually through painful experiences of their own) that whining, crying, and stomping around to express distress is a pathetic and unproductive way to process these frustrations. The fury of the emotional meltdown can often obscure a quieter and more prescient perspective on the situation. How often have you witnessed a “defeat” that turns out to be a godsend? Such realizations usually involve hindsight, so they’re not often appreciated at first blush.


By my book, the hardest part of this lesson is the intermediate stage when the disappointment exists but the blessing has yet to manifest. This is where I’ve felt stuck for quite some time, and it’s this gray area that requires Re-booters to be resilient, stalwart, and focused on long term possibilities.


In previous posts, I’ve written about the sweet wine of confusion and how it can force us to learn different skills than we ever dreamed we might need. Today’s entry builds on that theme.  As I see it, a large part of re-booting one’s life depends on faith in things we cannot see: faith in ourselves, faith in those around us, and faith that life has a funny way of bringing opportunities to us in the most unlikely of manner.


For those naysayers out there who poo-poo anything to do with faith, I respond what do you have to lose? How does having faith do anything but increase your chances for success? Faith does not negate reality—it provides an open door. You can be imminently practical and still hold faith in the future. Mostly, I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is this perspective that builds a bridge between failure and hope. Nobody wins a job when being a gloomy gus. And who amongst you wants to spend time with a person who’s convinced themselves that “there’s nothing good left for me out there. I lost the One True Thing I Wanted, so my life is meaningless.” Really?


Do you even believe such blather is true? Wah, wah, wah. Don’t waste my time. Sorry, I find my patience in short supply when those around me indulge in a pity party. I’ve had that party hat for too long to be fooled by its glitter.


Trust me when I tell you that I have rehearsed all the naysaying arguments over the course of my life. And trust me when I say I understand heartbreak, rejection, and the searing regret of personal mistakes, but at least now I know not to stop my analysis of what might happen next. There is so much more to life than what we can dream up—and I know you all are a very creative bunch—so when something happens that hurts your pride or falls short despite your best efforts or leaves you feeling unhappy, please don’t fall into the seductive trap of indulging yourself in an emotional orgy.  Instead, listen for that quiet inner voice which whispers, “This may just be a favor.” Re-booters know that faith can pay off in amazing ways.


Homework assignment: think of three instances in your life or that of someone you know where a significant disappointment turned out to be a blessing. I’d like to hear what some of these examples are. Let me know.


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One Response to “The Promise of Personal Disappointment”

  1. helenga Says:

    You’re absolutely right about this! I can look back on my life and connect the dots and see why events happened the way they did. A number of job rejections come to mind immediately and I now see that everything worked out the way it was supposed to. Of course in the midst of other failures it’s a bit difficult to remember this concept. 🙂

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