How to Overcome Disappointment with Gratitude

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”—William Arthur Ward

A week ago I was speaking with a single mum who felt like things in her life were going out of control. She felt overwhelmed with her teenage daughter’s behaviour towards her, she talked of how the current lockdowns had restricted the family and how it had affected her mental health. I listened to her as she raised this issues.

Then, suddenly she started to reaffirm herself.

“My past is not a reflection of my future.I am smart enough to make my own decisions.” She started, I could feel a surge of sunshine in her voice.

“I’m courageous, I am warrior and I will serve, support and work for my family,” she continued to affirm herself.

“I love my kids to death and I will do all I can to give them happiness.” She left the feeling awakened and happy.

In Greek mythology there is story of King Sisyphus punishment. As the son of King Aeolus of Thessaly and his mother, Enarete, Sisyphus knew that he was destined for greatness. He eventually founded Ephyra, which later became Corinth. While king of this land, he started to develop a reputation as a trickster. However, as king, he actually wasn’t very nice to the people who passed through his land. He was known for tricking travelers and then sometimes even murdering them. Eventually, it was determined that he was somewhat out of control.

Sisyphus thought himself even smarter than Zeus, so the king of the gods came up with a special punishment. He made Sisyphus push a large boulder up a hill, after enchanting the boulder to make it roll back down the hill right before Sisyphus reached the top. The result was Sisyphus spending eternity pushing the boulder and always failing at the last moment. Zeus had finally given Sisyphus a task that he couldn’t complete, even with all his cleverness.

Above is a story for the ages because so many people can relate to feelings of persistent discouragement. And like the mum I mentioned in my story above, we too sometimes feel trapped, and unless we learn to awaken the spirit of affirmations within, we awaken the warrior within, we will remain living in Sisyphus’s state of disappointments forever.

Many people go around sneaking that disheartening feeling into their daily life for hidden or unconscious reasons.

Are you feeling trapped in a never ending state of discouragement, here are 5 ways you can start living affirmed today:

1. Cultivate a Warrior’s Mindset

A warrior sees life’s obstacles as opportunities. He or she doesn’t shy away from challenges- rather he or she seeks them, knowing that they represent the greatest experiences of life.

2. “Chip off the old block.” Some of us had a parent or parents who were easily discouraged. Children feel what their parents are feeling through the body language and facial expressions of the parents, as well as through their sighs, groans, and various remarks. We become like our parents in a variety of ways. We often become quite a bit like the parent who we had the most difficulty with and who annoyed us the most.

It helps us to be more objective about ourselves if we can recognize the traits in ourselves that correspond with what we disliked in one or both parents. If we had a parent who was easily discouraged, we know we don’t want to follow in that parent’s footsteps.

Mother might have felt that father was a disappointment, or vice-versa, or one or both of them might have felt disappointed in his or her life and accomplishments. The person feels that he or she doesn’t measure up in some manner. Such emotional impressions are common in human nature, and they can produce unconscious expectations of failure and emotional associations with defeat.

We have to learn to support ourselves more effectively, and we acquire that ability as we see more clearly how tempted we can be to slip into inner passivity and feel ourselves collapsing inwardly in the face of some challenge. People need to become more aware of their tendency to identify with this default position of weakness in their psyche.

3. Dwelling on mistakes.

People frequently dwell on their mistakes. They keep replaying their mistakes in their mind, even those missteps that might have happened years ago. It’s obvious that discouragement will arise from this emotional pattern. Why do people replay painful feelings associated with their mistakes? Our tendency to absorb self-criticism is the problem.

As mentioned, many people have a harsh inner critic, and they’re especially sensitive to self-criticism. The inner critic will use whatever “ammunition” works to harass and torment us.

If we continue through inner passivity to make ourselves a target for this self-aggression, then our inner critic is able to gun us down even with old bullets, meaning memories of old mistakes, misdeeds, or failures from our past. We want to learn to neutralize our inner critic because it has no business butting into our life and shooting us down with painful allegations of wrongdoing.

4. Identifying with victims.

We can be prone to identify with victims. When we see someone who is being ill-treated, we’re certainly entitled to feel some compassion. But often it’s not compassion that inspires people. Instead, they identify with the victim in a way that arouses their own self-pity. They might, for instance, see a beggar and connect painfully with their own issues involving feelings of being unworthy, unsupported, and abandoned. When they do this, they’re likely to walk right past the beggar without leaving a dollar in his hat because, as a defense, they don’t want to see in him what they have repressed in themselves. However, they’ll feel what they imagine the beggar feels, namely a profound discouragement with life.

The first step to breaking out of a victim mentality is understanding and accepting that you have one. The next step is shifting your thoughts from feeling like a victim to realizing that you are a survivor. It’s incredibly freeing when you realize you are no longer a victim of your life circumstances.

Survivors know that they are in full control of their lives right now and in the future. Like the mum I talked about earlier, survivors don’t wait for others to define their paths, they believe Creator will direct them to the right paths and move forward to their destiny with faith.

5. Act Like A Warrior

How you perceive things must encourage you to move forward with courage. It must help you adopt a solution-focused mindset that promotes “out of the box” thinking.

What if instead of feeling disappointed you shifted your perspective in the following three ways:

When it comes to sudden and unexpected feelings disappointment, sometimes the more you try and control the outcome, the more frustrations and disappointment you will have.

There’s always a silver lining… What about this situation gets me excited?

Everything happens for a reason… Why is it important that I experience this disappointment?

This could’ve been much worse… What specifically about this am I grateful for?

There’s no point trying to control things that are out of your control. It’s the same as trying to catch the wind with your bare hands. It’s simply impossible.

6. Don’t Attempt to Control the Outcome.

Instead, give up the desire to control external events, and instead, use the suggestions listed here to work through moments of disappointment in optimal ways.

7. Turn your disappointments to God. God cares about every detail of our life—even more than we do! He wants us to let Him know of every need. That does not offend him. Philippians 4:6 reveals this powerful benefit to us saying, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

8. Be Gratefully.

We forget about the magic of ordinary experiences when disappointment takes center stage, and the usual antidote is to try to bypass the experience of disappointment in the hopes of getting a shortcut to gratitude.

You don’t have to push to feel something that you don’t actually feel. You only need to acknowledge what you actually do feel and see if it’s (really-really) true for you. I’m grateful for every waking, breathing moment that I have the opportunity to do just that.

My friend , whether it is struggling to make sales, asking for a date or even the daily disappointment from the outside world, everyone faces discouragement. How you handle that discouragement will ultimately make the difference between a life of broken dreams and misery and one where every discouraging attempt makes you stronger.

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