What to Do When You Disappoint Yourself

Disappointment and Hope

I disappoint myself on occasion. Some people might argue it’s my perfectionism rearing it’s ugly head, and they’re right at times. I sometimes hold myself to an untenable standard. Other times, I have a legitimate reason to be disappointed with myself.

Maybe I turn in work that I know isn’t my best. I tried to do my best in the writing of it, but I know it has yet to reach the point it needs to. It needs help from an outside source. I understand the reality of the situation, but I still can’t help but feel a little disappointed with myself. I should have been able to do better work. It shouldn’t have required such strenuous editing from another.

Other times, the disappointment is on a personal level. I make an unwise choice and have to live with the consequences. I feel the disappointment of choosing poorly as well as the regret of not listening to God’s and my friends’ counsel. I feel the sorrow of choosing my own way rather than God’s. It’s a good thing to feel, but it hurts all the same.

The disappointment found in either scenario may be necessary to my growth, but I know how quickly it can spiral out of control. When I’m disappointed with myself, I have to consciously choose how I will respond. I have two choices:

  1. I can wallow in the mud of regret and disappointment.
  2. I can leave the mud.

The Wallowing

Wallowing is altogether too easy to do. I not only have the ghosts of my actions hurling accusations but also the doubts saying I can never really leave. I can’t do better. It’s impossible. Why not stay in the mud? At least it’s safe even if it’s smelly and doesn’t keep me warm at night.

The more I let those thoughts rule, the less likely it is that I will leave the mud. I might eventually escape the muck and mire, but it’s going to take more effort and time. I will have to sink further. I will have to become so sick of myself and my actions, thoughts, and feelings that the only choice is to crawl from the ooze and hope that someone will take pity on me.

The Leaving

Leaving the mud is a risky business. Even if I escape it, the memories and the disappointment will linger. I can only choose to keep turning away from the mud, though. I already know what happens if I stay in the muck. Things get worse. I get worse.

To escape the mud, I have to transform the way I think. I have to remember who I am, and who I am is not determined by how well I write or how well I choose. I should aim high with both those things, but, if I fail, what’s important is that I try again. I don’t let my failures define me. I rise above them, not because of what I can do but because of who I am: a child of mercy and grace.

If I can remember that and remember how very much I am loved by the God who created and saved me, I can leave the mud. I can walk toward Him and keep walking because I know who this God is. He’s the One who races toward the lost sons and daughters who turn back to Him, the One who holds them close as they sob their sorrow and disappointment.

Image: Lauren Hollaway (Creative Commons)

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