Friday, October 4, 2013

How do you handle disappointment?

This journey called LIFE is not always easy. God never said it was going to be easy; He just said He’d be with us on the way.  Let’s face it…sometimes life is HARD and we get disappointed. It happens all the time. Things beyond our control mess up our plans. Sometimes people don’t like a gift we purchased or we don’t like a gift that was given to us. Sometimes a recipe turns out awful, the store sells out of our size shoe, it rains on our picnic or we get sick and have to miss the party. 


Sometimes people disappoint us. They let us down, forget our birthday/anniversary, choose someone else for the job, neglect to say, “Hey you look great today or Thank you” or say hurtful things.  Sometimes, well actually, a lot, we disappoint ourselves. “Why did I say that? Why didn’t I do this earlier? Why wasn’t I paying attention or remember to pay that bill?  Why, oh why, did I eat that piece of cake or open that beer?”  Sometimes we study and pull an all-nighter and STILL fail the test or we work hard all week to stay on track with our program and STILL we gain a pound or hit a plateau. Sometimes we work really hard on a project or put a lot of effort into something, and nobody even notices or cares. Disappointment, though at various degrees and intensities, happens….all the time. So the big question is, “what do we do about it?”


Yesterday I was slightly disappointed on my drive to work. As you know, I’ve been assigned to work at the Mt. Pleasant campus a few days a week while we hire and train some new people. This is an extra ½ hour drive for me, and I’d rather be working in my “own” office on my “own” campus, but it is only temporary so I’ve been making the best of it. One of my “consolation, quit pouting Theresa” strategies was that I would be able to see the beautiful fall colors on my extended drive each morning. I had planned that on some days I would take the ‘back roads” in and it would give me an opportunity to see things that I typically would not have.  The color is really beginning to explode around here, so Weds night I went to bed with a positive attitude, actually kind of even looking forward to my drive in to work yesterday.  But, things didn’t go as I had hoped. I failed to realize that the days are getting darker and darker each day.  SO…Yesterday….with a fresh cup of coffee….I set off to work….eager for my mini-color tour….only to discover that IT WAS DARK….ALL…THE….WAY there!  Talk about being bummed!  In the scheme of things, this is a silly, trivial disappointment. What’s the big deal? So what, it’s dark….your car started didn’t it? You have a job, don’t you? What’s the big deal about it being dark and not being able to see the trees?  Well, actually, it shouldn’t have been a big deal, but many of the times we are disappointed shouldn’t be a big deal either, but for us…at the moment….they are.  I got “over it” soon enough and ended up having a pleasant day and enjoyed the colors on the ride home, but starting out the day disappointed….even when it’s trivial….can set the tone for the entire day…..if we let it!


So I began to think about disappointments….plateaus…times people let me down….other stressors…..and how to handle them. “Old Theresa” would have stopped off at McDonald’s on the way to work and ordered a “big breakfast with an extra hash browns” and sat in the parking lot by myself eating, even though I would have likely already had breakfast at home.  “Old Theresa” would always handle disappointment in unhealthy ways. When things didn’t work out, she would have ordered a pizza and ate ½ box of Twinkies while waiting for it to arrive. “Old Theresa” would have got online and bought something off of EBay that she didn’t even need. “Old Theresa” would have just went to bed pouty.  I’m glad “OLD THERESA” doesn’t live here anymore!    Do you have an “Old you” rambling around in your world?


“New Theresa” handles things a bit differently these days: certainly not perfectly because I still turn to food… (just too much ‘acceptable’ food like watermelon!) I still pout, complain and whine on occasion (how often depends on who you askJ, but I also have come to realize that our success in life depends on how we deal with disappointment, grief, struggles, and LIFE. We become stronger when we overcome obstacles. These days when I encounter difficulties or am having a bad day, I go for a walk or bike ride, or work in my garden. Sometimes I call a friend or write a letter. Sometimes I “pamper myself” and have a “be good to Theresa” day. Sometimes I just go to bed early or take a nap. Mostly, I just try to give myself a “pep talk” and realize that in the scheme of things, the “little, petty annoyances of life” don’t really matter much, and before long, I can turn things around and realize how incredibly blessed I am!  What I can’t do….now….or EVER AGAIN….is eat a box of Twinkies or a bag of chips as a way to deal with “stuff”….even if it is silly, perceived, or trivial. Hopefully, you won’t either the next time you get “disappointed” or “hit a plateau.”   Keep working at it….try to keep positive….and whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP!   You can do this….you can get through it….and YOU CAN…and YOU WILL change your life! 

I’m curious….how do YOU handle disappointment?