What to Do When You’re Disappointed With Your Life

disappointed with your life

What can you do when you’re disappointed with life?  Let me start with a short story.

The other night, I was sitting on my daughter’s bed telling her good night.  She looked at her glass of “night water” and said, “Oh, my glass is half full. Would you mind getting me some more, Mom?”

She smiled at me and added, “Hey, I said the glass is half full, instead of saying it was half empty.”

“That means you’re an optimist!” I said, with a laugh.

And that is one of the things you can do when life disappoints—frame your thinking around the positive. Not in a “shutting out reality” kind of way, but in a “if I’m going to keep moving forward, I need to find something positive to cling to” kind of way.

Of course, that’s easier when the life disappointments are relatively small—not getting the house you put an offer on, not getting to take that trip home to visit your parents, or not being able to find your size in those shoes that were such a great deal. When life disappoints you in the big things—your marriage, your parenting, your dreams—it’s tougher to see the glass as half full, but you can. {Tweet This}

As moms, we really have to try to handle life disappointments well. Why? Because our children are watching us and will learn to handle disappointments by watching our behavior.

Here are 4 Things to Do When Life Disappoints You.

Even if you really feel like giving up, consider the point we just made—that your children are watching you—and let that be your ultimate motivation for handling your disappointment well.

1. Face your disappointment.

When you’re disappointed with your life, facing that fact head on is the first step in handling your disappointment well. Facing it will help you deal with the disappointment directly, rather than taking out your bitterness and sadness on your family.

Let’s say you’re disappointed with your husband, your children’s behavior, or the fact that you haven’t achieved what you’d hoped to in life. Go ahead and admit that to yourself.

It doesn’t make you a bad person to acknowledge it in your own mind, “I am disappointed that my husband can’t seem to succeed at his job.  I am disappointed that my children don’t seem motivated. I am disappointed I didn’t finish my degree. I am disappointed that I can’t be a stay-at-home mom.”

The best way to begin responding to the disappointment is to face it.

2. Change what you can.

Disappointment is like a pot of boiling water. It must be dealt with. If you leave the water boiling, it can bubble over; left unattended, it will eventually boil away and burn the pot. That’s how disappointment works. It can manifest as outward anger, frustration, and impatience — boiling over. Or it can fester and do its damage through bitterness, hopelessness, or resignation — burning the pot. Either of those manifestations is unhealthy for us, and unhealthy for our children to witness.

If we’re using our pot of boiling water analogy, this is where you pull the pot off the stove, turn down the heat, or turn it off completely.

Same with our disappointment. We change what we can about the trigger that’s causing, or has caused, the disappointment. Having said that, take great care with this step. You are not making change in a vacuum. Your choice will not only affect you but possibly your children as well.

So if you’re disappointed that you didn’t get a degree, one way to change that is to go back to school full-time. However, that might be too extreme, considering the lifestyle change it could mean for you family. A better choice might be to go back to school part-time or take online classes.

The goal is to change what you can without sacrificing your children’s needs and their stability.

3. Accept and move forward.

At this point, you’ve faced your disappointments and looked at ways to make changes in your life.

There will be things that you have been able to change, then there will be things you can’t change. Make up your mind to accept that that is how things are going to be. Feel empowered that you are deciding to maturely accept life as it is.

Work within the framework of your present life, accepting the things you don’t have the power to change, and moving forward, positive that there is still good in your life. That is positive thinking.

Don’t you want your children to be able to handle their life disappointments that way? Show them how it’s done!

4. Have selective vision.

Okay, you’ve faced, you’ve changed, you’ve accepted, and moved on. Now comes choosing what you will see. Choose to see your life as  half full… remember, for your children.

As we said earlier, there are disappointments that are devastating — a sick child, a failed marriage, bad health. Those kinds of things are so, so heavy to bear.

And believe me, I have been there. When one of my children was very ill, it took all I could muster to soldier on, for the benefit of my sick child, and my well child.

I’ll never forget, in the midst of my heartache, going to a Mother’s Day tea at my children’s school. My ill child was floundering, but my other child was there in front of me, and I chose not to crumble. I chose to show this child how to handle life’s disappointments.

I chose to see the glass, and life, as half full, because it was.

© 2014 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

In The Comments

What do you do when life disappoints you?


  • JL

    What a great article and perfect time of year as we are re-evaluating our lives. For next time, I would love to hear how we include God in this journey as well. Merry Christmas!

  • JoAnne

    My #1 commitment is to never give up on your child.

  • sandra vasco tavares

    Wao!! Love the article. Even thought I always put GOD before anything it seems like I cant do it anymore. I don’t work and have to do everything around the house and it seems like it is too much to manage.

    • Reed

      I know exactly what you mean when you talk of life feeling like too much to manage. And sometimes even when we know that the Lord is right there walking with us and fighting for us, it is a struggle to really feel that. We are human—weariness and disappointment and hopelessness will not be strangers to us during this lifetime. But I pray that you keep on keeping on and putting God first, for He is faithful. I pray He may breathe new life into you this week and give you a surprising strength to carry out your work around the house and within your community for the people you love.

    • Angel B.

      Sandra, thank you for sharing from your heart. At the time you posted this comment, you may not have had a job outside your home but you are doing the most important job of caring for your home and your family. As a fellow mom and household manager, I understand. When I am overwhelmed by the never ending to do list and not enough time, I pray Philippians 4:13 and ask God to give me the strength. I am thankful for you and all that you do to manage your house and family. It is my hope and prayer that God will encourage and strengthen you when you need it the most.

  • Zer0

    My problem is about money that i cant buy games coz in Philippines $1 = Php 46 so its so sad that i cant buy games i cant move on coz i always see Youtubers play them and this is my life… Computer!

  • ReadyForChange

    I’m broken and shattered emotionally and it tears me down every day. It feels as if I am constantly carrying a heartache and I don’t know what caused it. Things are great…I adopted my 4 nieces and nephews. I have two more children I birthed. I have a full degree. My spouse works and brings home around 700 a week. I have 2,000/mo in income. We do well. Yet I constantly feel frustrated and on a short fuse and I don’t know why. It’s like I wish I could turn to a vice that would just fix these emotions but nothing sate’s me. My sister suffers from MTHFR and I could have it too but I have never been diagnosed or sought to be. I don’t want to acknowledge a condition that if overcome still won’t overcome my emotions. I especially don’t want to draw any attention to myself and this pity party I feel I isolate myself in. My father was emotionally abusive and physically and he used his emotions and took them out on us and I don’t want to be that person. However, I still find myself overreacting to little things and lashing out or shutting down and I wish I would stop but I don’t. I blame myself and I set goals that I never meet. I explode over small things often. I want to change.