Dealing with Disappointment

disappointedWhy is nothing ever perfect?  I tend to be an optimist; I’m always hoping for things to get better, for things to be enjoyable and meaningful, yet sometimes it seems that every silver lining comes with a dark cloud.

I don’t know why, but it feels like every time I have something to look forward to, something that is especially important or meaningful in my life, it always has something attached that sours it for me.  Every holiday, every special event that makes life feel like its worth living for me is darkened by something sad.  Maybe it has to be that way to keep the universe in balance or some other cosmic reason I don’t understand, but in any case, I can’t seem to derive pure joy out of anything.  Usually, people close to me do or say something that ruins the moment for me.  It makes me feel trapped because if I say something, I could ruin the moment for them, and I don’t want to do that, so I usually keep quiet and let it bottle up inside me.

The real issue is how I deal with disappointment and rejection.  My first thoughts are to sit in a corner and feel sorry for myself, but that is not productive or helpful.  If I suppress my feelings, they come out in other ways.  I could demand my rights, but that doesn’t help either.  The reality is, I’m not sure what to do.

The prophet Malachi records God complaining of the same thing. In Malachi 1:6, He says,

“A son honors his father, And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father, Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence?
Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

It’s a hard thing when you are not respected, and the people who are not respecting you don’t even acknowledge that they are disrespecting you.  More than once I’ve confronted people, and they respond, “Who me?”    God responds by affirming who He is.  He says,

‘For from the rising of the sun, even to it’s going down,
My name shall be great among the Nations;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,” Says the LORD of hosts.’

Following His self-affirmation, he calls the people to correct their ways.  Some did, but some did not.  He blessed those who did, but not those who did not.  Unfortunately, this is not a blueprint for me.  First of all, I’m not God.  Secondly, people who disrespect you don’t take to heart the things you have to say.  Usually, they dismiss them, saying you are being too emotional, or claim you are making it all about you.

The only thing that really can be done is to acknowledge who and what you are; basically, affirm yourself.  This happens when you remind yourself of who and what you are, in words and actions.  I try to be a good, kind person to whoever I am with.  If you only love those who love you, what good is it?

The bottom line is the way I treat others is the only real affirmation of who and what I am.  If I am treated badly, it says more about the other person than about me.  It may be hurtful, but real compassion understands and moves forward.  There is more to me than the way I am treated; it is shown in how I treat others whether they value me or not.

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7 thoughts on “Dealing with Disappointment

  1. Well Dr. S., perhaps you might consider spending the holidays with a different crowd? 🙂 I know, sometimes you can’t escape family. But you won’t be disappointed if you don’t expect anything. People rarely change, no matter how much we wish they would, and we can’t take their behavior personally. I try to see the humor of it all, as if I was watching the family interactions on a sitcom, it would probably be funny. Often the pain-in-the-tuches relatives hide a positive trait that has been frustrated or derailed.

  2. Oops! You struck a nerve, but the word processor in this blog won’t let me tell the whole story, because apparently there’s a word limit. Sorry, no witness this time.

  3. David ben Avraham, I’d love to hear what you have to say. If you have a blog, you could post a link, or post a comment on an article that sort of hints at the subject on my blog article: http://endtimechaverim.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/theres-no-place-like-home/ My husband helps me to see the humor aspect. For example, whenever my dad calls, he asks, “So what’s the bad news?” Doesn’t everyone have relatives so predictable that you could say to them, (not that you would) “You don’t need to say a thing. Let me tell you what you are going to say.”

    • Chaya, I’m sorry. I am not a little uncomfortable with your blog and its interconnections, so I respectfully decline to post anything there.

  4. Rabbi,
    I can’t understand how anyone could disrespect you, of all people! I thank you for being real and sharing from the heart – otherwise I would think I’m the only one with these problems and hurts!

  5. I’ve had a few experiences in life where that has certainly seemed to be the case. But then I had to remind myself that life is only what we make of it. We can CHOOSE to let sad things overtake us or we can choose to LEARN from the sad experiences in our lives. Sometimes, sad or difficult experiences are needed in our lives so we don’t take things for granted and so we specifically don’t take the Lord Almighty for granted.

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