Column – Take time to process emotions after a disappointment

Published 6:43 pm Friday, September 16, 2022

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There was a wide array of games and activities set up and ready to go, and it didn’t take long for the campers entering the gym to spread out to their chosen activity. The gym was filled with the sounds of children playing basketball, sliding down the slide, bouncing in the bounce house, playing ga-ga ball, and much more. Everyone was having a blast. Everyone, it was, except for James.

James sat crying with his back against the wall. He hadn’t been allowed to try to catch a snake that had been seen slithering around the path to the gym, and he was upset.

I understood why he was sad. He wanted to catch the snake, but it wasn’t something we were able to do. He was disappointed, and I know how disappointment feels. It’s a lousy feeling. Sometimes after disappointment, we need to pause to process our thoughts and deal with our emotions.

The problem for James, however, is that he cried and pouted for the next two hours. I tried to convince him to join in with any of the other games or activities, but he would not budge. Therefore, he missed out on a lot of great things that he would have certainly enjoyed.

We can attribute his missed opportunity to a child tired from a busy week facing a disappointment that his young heart and mind might not yet be equipped to process.

I can’t help but wonder, though, if adults sometimes do the same thing in a different way. A disappointment in life can throw us into a downward spiral, cause us to pout, give up on life, or miss out on the good things around us.

It’s good to pause after a disappointment to process emotions, and it’s okay to mourn what could not be obtained. The problem starts when we choose to continually feed our negative emotions instead of processing them. It can cause a downward spiral where we end up pouting, in an adult manner, rather than working through the disappointment we faced.

While we may not sit down and refuse to participate in anything, like James did in the gym, but disappointment can cause us to give up. We’re saddened by what disappointed us, so we pull out of participating in life. We didn’t get one thing we wanted, so we give up on getting anything. We should not allow disappointment to cause us to stop moving forward in life.

Lastly, disappointment can blind us to good things around us. We can become so focused on the one thing we could not obtain that we lose sight of all the good things that we do have. James missed out on several games and activities he enjoyed because he would not stop crying over what he could not do. Let’s ensure we don’t miss out on the good things around us because we’re upset over what we have missed.

The question we have to answer isn’t if we’re going to face disappointment. We will. The question is how we will handle ourselves after we are disappointed.