Five Ways to Deal with Disappointment

-By Raghad Ebied

We are all inevitably going to face moments of disappointment in our life – disappointments from work, family, friends, society, and even ourselves. That’s the very nature of the world we live in – it’s not ideal, it’s not perfect and shortcomings are bound to happen from others and from ourselves.

The question is how do we deal with these disappointments – how do we reconcile our need to have fulfilling jobs and relationships and fulfill our own promises to ourselves when we as well as others are humans who can be weak and forgetful?

How do we forgive when we’re hurt? How do we “forget” when we need to move on? How do we overcome intense feelings of disappointment and sometimes disbelief about what happens around us?

Nobody said it was going to be easy – in fact we are told – “Verily We have created the human being into toil and struggle”(Quran 90:4) .

We hope, we dream, we strive, we build and yes indeed we can fail, fall, and feel hurt, betrayal, and just simply a lack of empathy and compassion from others. However, we can get back up, try again, hope again, dream again, strive again and build again. We can succeed again. We can be happy and fulfilled again.

1) The first step is going back to Allah – seeking comfort with knowing that Our Creator knows exactly what happened, how we feel, how it impacted us and indeed has the power to heal what is hurt, mend what is broken, and grant us acceptance and serenity.Here are some steps to think about:

Our understanding of the attributes of Allah [swt] – Arrahman (The All-Merciful), Arraheem (The All-Compassionate), Al-Malik (The King), Al-Wadood (The Loving), Al-Hakeem (The All-Wise), Al-Aleem (The All-Knowing), Al-Kareem (The All Generous) and the many other attributes of Allah [swt] provide us with a source of comfort and strength that we have The Creator of the Heavens and the Earths to take care of our every single need.

We are also told in the Quran “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 4].

When it comes to du`aa’, we are told in the Quran: “If my servants ask you about me, then tell them I am near, and I answer the call of the one who calls on to me” [Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 186]. We all need something in life and strive to achieve some goals – we all need faith and guidance, we all want love, we all want shelter, we all want sustenance, we all want a caring, supportive family and community, we all want to be healthy and happy, we all want to have a great vision that we strive to actualize, among many other wishes and aspirations.

When we are met with disappointment over lost hopes and goals, we need to keep searching deep inside our hearts for our innermost desires and call unto Allah [swt] knowing that no du`aa’ is too great for Allah [swt], and that the power of du`aa’ is truly beyond our imagination.

2) The second step is to adjust our expectations – we are told about the inherent imperfection of the world we live in over and over again in the Quran and we are a witness to it over and over again, every time we experience some sort of disappointment.

“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said “When is the help of Allah?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.”[Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 214].

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones) …” [Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 155].
So you can learn how to work through disappointment by expecting that you are bound to encounter situations that challenge you and could indeed cause worry, sadness, and pain. Know that as you experience more of these situations, you will grow stronger. Remember though growing stronger does not mean that the heart grows harder – it should mean that our hearts are actually softer and able to show more compassion for others. In fact, it can mean that the heart is so alive, and so in touch with its feelings and those of others that it can in fact be such a source of strength in difficult times. Think of the difference you can make to others who have gone through difficult times when you can reach out and support them because you know exactly how they feel.

Also, our belief in fate gives us assurance that there is nothing that can happen to us without the will of Allah [swt] as per the Prophet’s [saw] hadith:

“O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, then ask Allah [alone]; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah [alone]. And know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” [At- Tirmidhi]

3) The third step is to re-focus your attention on what and who really matters in life. If there’s a moment, an encounter, or a situation that has happened and is upsetting you, yet it really has no greater impact on your priorities and values in life, try to not allow it to take up too much of your time and thought.

Do what you can to deal with it in the way that is best aligned with the highest moral characters, and then move on. With time, this will get easier. At the end of the day, one can’t ‘fix’ everything. One can’t be everyone’s best friend. And one can’t please everyone. Basically if what you’re doing is pleasing to the Creator, then worry less about the creation.

4) The fourth step is to build what we call ‘resilience’ – the ability to overcome difficult circumstances and ‘bounce back’ stronger than before. For some, resilience is built as you encounter more experiences and grow older. Resilience allows you to actualize one of the greatest keys to success, according to personal development experts, which is to believe that we are not the results of our circumstances. It allows us to come back and try again, even after great disappointment because we did not want to allow circumstances to dictate who we are or the quality of our life.

Poverty, illness, sadness, wars, natural disasters, and a lack of safety, a lack of opportunity or social support and other unfortunate circumstances do not have to doom a person to misery. To build more resilience, you can start each day with a strong affirmative statement such as “Insha’Allah I will overcome this disappointment/grief/hurt”, etc.).

Remember what you are grateful for everyday including the blessings and strengths Allah has bestowed you with and express your thoughts in your Du`aa’ to Allah [swt] and/or in a journal. Research has shown that people who keep gratitude journals are generally happier and healthier.

It is of great help to create purpose and passion in your life that compels you to work through and overcome your trials and tribulations. And remember our achievements in life are proportionate to our level of courage, which are based on our beliefs about whether we can make our goals happen or not and your ability to grow stronger through adversity by practicing resilience (yes resilience is a skill that can be developed and practiced). So we must believe that we have immense courage inside of us, we must believe that we can overcome adversity, and we must believe that we can achieve success and contentment Insha’Allah.

5) The fifth step is to learn how to take care of yourself. Many of us, especially if you’re a women and a caregiver/mother, you are constantly giving to others around you. However, remember you cannot give from an empty cup or have the strength to overcome disappointments and struggles. Take care of your body by sleeping well, eating a healthy diet filled with protein, omega-3 rich foods, anti-oxidants, plenty of water, eliminating toxins like artificial sweeteners and of course exercise, which has been shown to be just as effective as anti-depressants and subhan Allah is a natural way to release endorphins (the “happy” hormones”). Learn how to say no when you need to. And explore what you need to re-charge –even if you are an extrovert that likes being around people, you will find that you do need time for yourself to relax. Whether it’s time to read, write, draw, exercise, pray, watch or listen to an inspirational video/audio – find what works for you and brings you comfort. If you’ve been through a very difficult time, don’t be afraid to seek help – after Allah, ask a loved one or close and trusted friend, join an online support group, or don’t be hesitant to speak to a professional counselor.

Finally, believe that feelings of disappointment will pass and that experiencing your greatest weaknesses could have enabled you to develop your greatest strengths leading to your greatest triumphs Insha’Allah.

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