Part of growing up is realizing that we all face discouragement, disappointments and sadness at times. The real question we must ask ourselves is, “When I face discouragement or dashed expectations, how will I handle it?” We have a choice. It is up to us to decide if we will use our gifts, talents and abilities in a constructive or destructive way. In our country right now we are seeing a display of emotions and reactions to the recent election results. Sadly, many people choose to use their time and energy in destructive ways. Now I’m not saying we can’t be sad when disappointments come our way. We should always make time to grieve the losses we face in life, but then we must take our frustrations and step in a positive direction. Here are five ways you can take the setbacks in life and turn them into something good.
- Find a cause you believe in and sign up to volunteer. If you feel deeply about an issue, do something about it in your own community. If the critics stopped using their mouths and started using their hands to effect change, our world would be a better place. Change happens from the ground up, so let’s put our actions where our mouth is and begin to take positive steps forward in our own communities.
- Change your focus. Instead of filling your mind with what makes you angry, concentrate on what is right about your life, your community and your country. There are plenty of good people and wonderful organizations that deserve our attention, rather than wasting precious time judging and criticizing.
- Develop a friendship with someone who is different than you. When is the last time you sat down with someone who has an opposing point of view, to listen and try and understand them? Step out of your comfort zone and get to know someone who lives, thinks and acts differently than you. You don’t have to agree with everything they believe, just seek to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do.
- Communicate with kindness. If you feel strongly about an issue, stop hurling insults and hateful comments. Instead, use your voice to reach out and communicate with thoughtful, wise and kind dialogue. If the protesters who are smashing cars and shouting profanities, used their energy to write out their ideas, concepts and concerns, they would be making giant leaps forward. Whether you are expressing your heart on social media or through a letter to the president, a kind discourse is much more effective than an angry vent.
- Let love rule your thoughts and actions. Love the person in front of you no matter what they believe or what kind of opinions they hold. Let us each examine our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus took it a step further and told us to love our enemies. Never underestimate the power of love to change a nation. What if today, we each chose to simply love each person we encounter with both our words and our actions? Take your anger, turn it around and move forward with forgiveness, love and respect toward every person. Love will change your heart and will change the world, one person at a time.
For more steps to handling disappointments, check out Karol’s book Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive