Dealing with disappointment

Is Disappointment Holding You Back?

April 19, 2016

I am fortunate enough to work with some great people; they are mostly members of my family. Over the last few weeks however, there has been some quarreling amongst us.

Not long ago, my cousin introduced a new appliance into the office – the Rollie Eggmaster. On announcing that had ordered the device, he showed us the promotional video in his excitement. We were mesmerized. Check it out, you probably will be too.

The quick shot of the lady cooking eggs at her desk is what got us really enthused. How convenient, we thought. How have we managed to cope for this long without such easy access to perfect cylinders of cooked egg?

Basically, you crack an egg or two into a kind of heated tube and minutes later it rises like a phoenix, all of its own accord, perfectly cooked and ready to quell those mid-morning hunger pangs (it’s as weird as it sounds).

The Rollie arrived and we were eager to give it a go. It worked just as the video promised; we were filled up on eggs that day. There is however one problem – the smell. The stench produced is quite staggering.

It’s amazing that one egg can stink a room out so effectively. It’s not like the smell you get when you fry one – it manages to multiply that by 10 somehow. Perhaps our ventilation is not very good or I’m over sensitive to smell, but I’m all for smashing it to bits on the pavement outside.

There are others however who defend it vehemently, arguing that its benefits outweigh the unfortunate aroma. Those individuals seem to spend half the day happily churning out cylinders of egg, much to my despair.

Honestly, I’ve never felt so let down by an appliance. It promised to improve my life immeasurably, but has left me spending the length of each working day marinating in an eggy steam.


Have you ever suffered disappointment? My example is obviously not a serious one; I may be exaggerating my upset a little.

But there are times in my life when I’ve expected and hoped for certain things, which just haven’t gone to plan. It stung. Maybe you’ve experienced the same at some point. Perhaps a new friendship didn’t blossom, a career unfold or a marriage turn out as you dreamt it would.

Broken dreams are painful, aren’t they? ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick,’ as King Solomon put it. In fact, to hope and to be let down is one of the major things that can trip us up life, so learning to get up again is important if we want to flourish.

Disappointment can stop us in our tracks, causing us to lower our heads and no longer see the big picture. The loves and passions that drove us before become almost indistinguishable shadows in the back of our minds. A shattered dream takes the centre of a dark stage, and sometimes we can’t move on to the next scene.

If this happens, and we aren’t able to begin walking out the other side, disappointment can turn toxic. If it’s left to hang around, disillusionment and hopelessness are born. These guys are destructive, and are experts at suffocating every green shoot that tries to poke its way up in the soil of our hearts.

We become incapable of expecting or noticing anything good in the world, and therefore don’t experience anything good, only stagnate in bitterness and heartache, like Miss Haversham in Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’, who, while getting preparing on the morning of her wedding received a letter from her fiancé notifying her that he would not go through with the marriage. She discovered that he had only been in the relationship to swindle her of our wealth.

Miss Haversham remained in her wedding dress in her home for the rest of her life. She altered none of the wedding party preparations, which rotted and fed rats.

This is an extreme example of letting disappointment turn into hopeless disillusionment – but it’s a picture of what can happen to us if we don’t manage to move on.

I think that disappointment can often fit into two categories, and it’s helpful to distinguish which of them we are facing, in order to work out how to move forward.

Maybe you’re just a little blind

Sometimes when something doesn’t quite turn out like we hoped, the dream may still be coming into being – it may just look a little different to what we expected. It’s often easy to think all is lost and give up, when all we need is to persevere and adapt a little.

Things never turn out exactly how we plan. If we reject anything that doesn’t look identical to our dreams, we will miss out on many, many things. I find that specific hopes have a kind of core theme. It may well be that our dream is coming alive – but maybe it’s just wearing different clothes, and the essence of the things you long for is underneath.

If that’s you, try analysing what you hoped for – what was the core theme? Was it friendship with a certain person? Perhaps you are developing a different kind of friendship to the one you imagined, which can be just as fulfilling and suits you more at the moment, if you embrace it. Or perhaps you got the wrong person; maybe there’s another right there in front of you to fulfil your need for a friend, if only you’ll stop discounting them.

Let good things grow from disappointment

Other times, the thing on which we hung our hopes simply isn’t going to happen. When this is the case it’s important to be realistic, and acknowledge the truth, which is a painful thing to do. Sometimes, depending on the scale of the disappointment, this might take time and help from people around you.

It can be hard and terrifying to then get up and move on at the right time, but doing so opens up a whole load of opportunities. These difficult experiences can make us wiser and stronger if we let them – even the hardest things we go through can bear amazing fruit in our lives.

It’s critical that after being let down, we learn to dream again. It’s easy to determine that hoping for things is unwise because of bad experiences. This is a poisonous conclusion to embrace, and will only lead us into hopelessness and depression.

Dreaming again and fostering an environment of hope inside of us attracts new opportunities and opens doors. Having our eyes wide open in anticipation means that good things happening to us will not be a rarity.

In the long run, I think we get what we expect; we find what we are looking for. So keep your eyes peeled!

Disappointment can be nothing less than excruciating. If you choose to come out the other side though, holding onto hope, you will emerge a stronger, wiser and happier person than you ever thought you could be.

Thanks for reading!

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  • Carolineb1965

    In the more devastating example, it can be exceptionally hard to cling to hope. This is when we need our friends & family with faith to stand with us in the dark times, to continue speaking life & hope over us when all we feel is death of dreams, relationships and hope. Depending on the severity, we may have to walk a long hard path but if we are not alone and have people supporting us along the way, we can finally find the hope for ourselves and then see a future and a hope, God’s good plans. This was certainly my experience.
    Great post Tom!

    • Wow thanks for that Caroline – so powerful to hear of how you found hope after disappointment. May many more do as you have!