How to Reclaim Life After Disappointments

In a recent blog post we talked about disappointments —what they are and why it’s so important that we don’t get stuck in them. Today we’ll look at how to go about moving past all the very real and painful emotions brought on by unfulfilled expectations.

If you missed that original conversation, you can read it here:  “Are You Drowning in Disappointment?”


Contrary to what many people believe, moving on doesn’t mean abandoning every aspect of your present life. If you want a full and productive tree, you don’t rip it out by the roots, you carefully prune out the dead, damaged and weak branches. The wise pruner avoids cutting the major branches that make up the “skeleton” of the tree. Their eye is on promoting a healthier, more attractive tree, not chopping it off at the ground and starting over.

So it should be with our lives. We must be intentional in our “pruning.” If we remove too much, we, like the tree, may not survive, but taking a little off here and a little off there, can help us grow decidedly stronger and more beautiful.

“Any new beginning is forged from the shards of the past, not from the abandonment of the past.”  —Craig D. Lounsbrough

To live our best, most satisfying life, we need the wisdom and understanding that only comes through the difficult times. When we run from those challenges we cheat ourselves out of the very thing that will bring us renewed hope and abundant joy.

Basically there are five “checkpoints”  you must pass through to get beyond any significant disappointments.

Are you ready to get started down that path? If so, let’s go!

Checkpoint #1 – GET REAL

A wide variety of emotions spring to life when we’ve been disappointed.  To be honest, many of them feel downright ugly. We hang on to the hope that if we can ignore them long enough, they’ll just go away.

Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true. The only way to get our emotions to stop haunting us is to actually identify them and let ourselves experience them in all their intensity.

Are you feeling sad? angry? discouraged? or something else? It’s important to figure that out. Depending on what you discover, you may need to give yourself permission to cry, to yell, or to write about them in detail.

Children do this well. When they’re disappointed, they cry, they scream, they have a regular little tantrum until the feelings run out. Then, almost magically, they run off to play again, without looking back. The past didn’t change. They did. They got the feelings out so they’re ready to move on and they do.

Of course, we can muster a bit more wisdom about where and when it is appropriate to unpack those feelings than the little ones in our lives, but we still need to make finding that time a priority.

Be thorough. You can’t rush through this step if you want it to be effective. You may have been taught that you shouldn’t wallow in your misfortunes, but it isn’t wallowing when we are honestly and actively trying to identify and express what we are feeling. It’s the first step in moving on.


Once the emotions have been released  and no longer cloud our vision, we can step back and look at the situation with new eyes and greater clarity.

This is a great time to ask yourself probing questions. What happened? Why did it impact me so significantly? What authentic need do I have that didn’t get filled because of what happened?

Ask God to help you see the answers that are important in this situation. You may be surprised how different things appear already.


We get some funny ideas in our heads about the way things should be. Often our grandiose expectations and misplaced feelings of entitlement actually set us up to be repeatedly disappointed.

God has, indeed, promised us hope and a future, but we don’t get to write the script of our lives. Maybe that practically-perfect-in-every-way husband, or that coveted lifestyle aren’t among the good things God has planned for you. Maybe his dreams for you are far loftier than your own.

It may be time to review and even relinquish some of your self-imposed rules about how life is supposed to be and let the Holy Spirit—the comforter—fill you with new hope and a fresh sense of purpose and direction.


This quote from Craig Lounsbrough sums this checkpoint up perfectly:

“Starting over is an acceptance of a past we can’t change, an unrelenting conviction that the future can be different, and the stubborn wisdom to use the past to make the future what the past was not.” —Craig D. Lounsbrough


Seek to build deeper friendships. God often ministers to our hurts through other people. When we choose to pull away or build walls, we cheat ourselves out of this God-initiated support.

As essential as cheerleaders and confidantes are to our emotional health and well-being, however, we need to remember that even our best friends may let us down from time to time. They, like us, are human—they have limitations.

That’s why it is so important to simultaneously nurture an ever-stronger relationship with God, himself. He is the one that will NEVER fail us. He alone can provide everything we need to endure the disappointments that are an inevitable part of life on this earth.

Disappointments do not need to be the end of the road, but they are certainly a crossroads. Only you can make the choice to grab what they’ve taught you, leave the sadness and hopelessness behind and dance on down the path of abundant life!

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
—Psalm 30:55

TODAY’S CHAT: If you have a “survival” story about a time you were were able to get past a deep disappointment in your life, please consider sharing it with us. Did you pass through some of these same checkpoints, or was your path a little different? Without a doubt, your success will be an inspiration to us all as we attempt to move beyond our own intense disappointments.

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