Sooner or later, friends, coworkers, even family members will disappoint you. You’re going to feel betrayed. Taken advantage of. You can’t avoid it. It’s inevitable. But when people let you down, you can either use it as an excuse to become angry and bitter, or you can turn your disappointment into spiritual strength.
What to do when people let you down
Some of life’s disappointments are bigger than others. But over time, even small let-downs and disappointments can make you feel numb. Instead of hoping and dreaming, you stop believing in yourself and other people. Worse yet, you start believing that if the people you trust don’t care about you, then God must not care about you, either.
Life is too short to wallow in self-pity. When people let you down (and someone always will), it’s time to fall back on the fundamentals — nuggets of spiritual wisdom to help you move forward in peace, joy and confidence.
1. Happiness starts with you.
It’s easy to blame other people for making your life miserable. But at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your own happiness. Real happiness — the kind of happiness that hangs around regardless of your circumstances — comes from knowing who you are rather than letting other people define you.
When people let you down, remember that you’re not alone. Even Jesus felt betrayed by his friends and forsaken by God. By embracing your identity and worth as a child of God, you can reclaim your happiness from haters and critics.
2. Expectations are a slippery slope.
We all place expectations on other people. We expect our spouses to love us, our coworkers to respect us and our friends to be nice to us. And that’s the problem because even though expectations are part of life, they set us up for heartache and disappointment.
In a letter to a friend, the English poet, Alexander Pope said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he will never be disappointed.” There’s a lot of truth in that. By minimizing the expectations you place on other people, you can prevent disappointment down the road.
3. Pain is real, but temporary.
When people let you down, the pain you feel is real. Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can say or do to make that pain go away. But no matter how much it hurts, you have to remind yourself that the pain is temporary.
Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Tomorrow is a new day and even though the heartache you’re feeling now won’t instantly disappear, it will get better.
4. You matter more than you know.
Insignificance is an unfortunate side effect of disappointment and betrayal. When people you trust turn their backs on you (or worse yet, stab you in the back), it stirs up feelings of abandonment and isolation. Life as you know it is suddenly turned upside down and you start to wonder whether anyone cares about you.
But the truth is that your life matters to God and to countless other people who depend on you to be a source of love, support and encouragement. By investing time and energy in those people, you find purpose and meaning in your life.
And you realize that you aren’t alone after all.