3 Steps to Protect Your Heart from Disappointment

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Disappointments are likely to occur at some point in our lives.

The question isn’t Will we be disappointed?

But rather How will we handle disappointment when it comes?

Left unresolved, disappointment can lead to bitterness and unforgiveness, which can ultimately prevent us from walking in the purpose God has for us.  

It can even affect the direction we take for our lives.

I’ll never forget the first time I spoke in public. I was a freshman in college and Public Speaking was a required course for my major.

It seemed like it would be fun and I was actually looking forward to the class.

Until the day I had to give my first speech.

I was assigned a topic: baseball and a time limit: 3 minutes.

Seems pretty doable, right?

Not exactly.

I was speechless, even though the words were written on the sheet in front of me.

The moment I looked up and saw all 15 pairs of eyes staring at me—I froze.

I ran out of the class in the middle of my speech, determining to change my major.

I went to my professor to explain that I was not cut out for public speaking and that I would be dropping his class. To my surprise, he agreed and proceeded to scold me for leaving in the middle of class.

I was heartbroken.

Not only did I feel like a failure, but my professor was agreeing with that label. I’d secretly hoped he would deny my request and give me a “give it another go, girl”.

But he didn’t.

I did end up changing my major to something that didn’t require public speaking. I settled into a comfortable Business Administration degree, where I could stay behind the scenes and avoid the risk of humiliation again.

It’s been 24 years since I walked out of that classroom.

Yet there are still remnants of disappointment that rise up from that situation.

As I’ve searched God’s Word I’ve found several key ingredients to protecting my heart from disappointments.

Overcoming disappointment is key to a flourishing life. Not sure how to overcome? Here are 3 steps to protect your heart from disappointment.

3 Steps to Protect Your Heart from Disappointments

Control Your Thoughts 

When I left the classroom that day, I was plagued with defeating thoughts.

You didn’t practice long enough. If you would have, you could’ve nailed that speech.

You’re just not a speaker. No one really wants to listen to what you have to say anyway.

It’s best to drop this class, so you’ll never have to see those people again.

When faced with disappointment, I’ve found this to be true:

[bctt tweet=”The enemy tries hard to not just attack our behavior, but our identity.” username=”Alisa_Nicaud”]

He wants to convince us that not only did we fail, but we are failures.

Do you see the difference?

One statement says, “You failed.” We can accept that. We all fail sometimes.

The other statement says, “You are a failure.”

That generalization is a lot harder to swallow. It implies we didn’t just fail at this one thing, but that we will fail at everything, because that is who we are.

The moment I left, I had a choice.

I could focus on my defeating thoughts and buy into the lie that I was a failure, or I could choose to focus on the truth and believe I would do better the next time. I’d love to say that I overcame disappointment that day, but that would not be the truth. I chose to believe that I was not a speaker and that I didn’t have a message.

Looking back, I see how the enemy stopped me from pursuing what God has called me to do.

Fear and insecurity prevented me from sharing my voice, not about baseball, but about Christ.

The stakes were a lot higher.

We are all confronted with the choice to believe the lies of the enemy or the truth of God’s word. This scripture has helped me to overcome those fears and step out into what God has called me to do.

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT

When things don’t go the way we plan, we have to make a conscious effort to fix our thoughts on the right things. We have to remind ourselves what God says about us.

Our circumstances, our failures, our successes—do not define who we are.

Our feelings definitely do not define who we are.

When we are faced with disappointment, guarding our thoughts will become key in working through the hurts and protecting our identity. If we meditate on what is true we will come out victorious, secure in Christ.

Relational Expectations

 Relationships provide many opportunities for us to be disappointed.

People aren’t perfect.

Those imperfect people are often hurt and in turn hurt other people.

I have been on both sides of the equation—I’ve been the one hurt and the one hurting others. The pains we experience become a grid through which we respond to others. If we feel threatened, those past hurts rise to the surface and we naturally want to guard against them. Yet, we often forget that others who are hurting do the same thing. Somehow we think that they should respond differently.

 Several years ago after several bouts with relational disappointments, I was given a piece of advice that really helped me see the importance of expectations.

I was told, “Alisa, you need to lower your expectations.

You’re expecting something from this person that they can never give you.”

When my professor responded the way he did I let his words pierce into my soul.

The truth is, I had known the guy for a few weeks. He didn’t know me and he certainly wasn’t equipped to speak into my life. He probably saw me quitting and thought it was a reflection of his teaching. Whatever the case, the ugly words he spoke to me were not about me, but about him. As a young woman and a student, I expected that my teacher should be encouraging and lift me up and not tear me down.

There will alway be people who don’t live up to our expectations

We can’t control how others act, but we can control our expectations of them. Every disappointment begins with an expectation. Setting proper expectations of what the other person is capable of, will allow us to heal from the wounds and move on from the disappointments.

Forgiveness: To cancel a debt.

I was very intrigued by this definition.

It made sense.

When we hold onto unforgiveness towards someone, we in essence are assigning a debt to them—one they can never repay unless we feel fully recompensed. We keep a tally of the wrongs and assign a value to them that cannot be paid back until our feelings have been justified. Our flesh screams “payback”, but our souls cry out for reconciliation.

How do we handle the turmoil that brews inside of us?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-5 NIV (emphasis mine)

Love is the key.

God tells us to love our neighbor, whether they disappoint us or not.

I could have held a grudge against this guy for the way he responded to me.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to see him again. But that is not always the case.

There are people in our lives that we see on a regular basis that continue to disappoint us. When we keep a tally of wrongs against them, we haven’t really forgiven them. I remember asking one of our pastors how to overcome a disappointment or hurt.

His response was pray for them.

Every single time you think of them or the situation pray for them.

Pray for them until that feeling of unforgiveness goes away.

Depending on the offense, it may take awhile.

There have been people in my life that I’ve had to constantly lay down before the Lord.  But the more I prayed for the person and really sought God’s truth about the relationship, the easier it was for me to do it the next time. 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget.

There are some hurts that are too deep to brush off. But making an effort to forgive will not only bring healing to the relationship, but also to ourselves. 

Has disappointment taken root in your soul because of a past or recent hurt? I encourage you today to not just sit back and let disappointment take over, but to control your thoughts, set realistic expectations and forgive. As you begin the process, God will meet you where you are and begin to heal those broken places.


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  1. I find it so difficult to control my thoughts. I swear, if there was one skill/spiritual discipline I could master it would be this one. I seem to do so well for a time, but then I lose control again. Most of my bad days are caused by my losing focus on my Creator and His beautiful plans for me. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder today.

    1. Me too, Sarah! I think this is a biggie for most people. I guess that’s why the bible tells us to take every though captive and make it obedient to Christ. The more we let them slip in the harder they are to control! Thanks for visiting today! Have a great week!

    2. Me as well!! It is so hard, and like you Just when I think I am ok, I fall back three steps. The thoughts race through my mind, I get so mad AGAIN, then I get the attitude, and do not sleep because of it. I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Really good Alisa! This truth affects our relationship with God, with ourselves and with others. I’ll be sharing this! Visiting from #tellhisstory today 🙂

    1. Thanks, Angela! So true, it does affect all of our relationships. Thank you for sharing. Have a great week!

  3. Yes, the Enemy does want to not only convince us we failed but that we ARE failures. That is his goal and if he can do that, he can convince us that we can’t overcome sin. Very good point, Alisa. We must keep speaking God’s truth and seeking Him through His Word. He doesn’t make failures. He makes all things new when we practice our faith!

    Thanks for stopping by Tuesday Talk again, gal!

    1. No He doesn’t, Ruthie! Just because we feel like failures doesn’t mean we are failures. You are right, focusing on His truths will keep us on the right path. He indeed makes all things new! Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week!

  4. Alisa – We find ourselves neighbors yet again at not 1 but 3 link-ups today alone #TestimonyTuesday #Titus2Tuesday and #RaRaLinkup – I bet we will have it happen some more. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on overcoming disappointment and I especially love this line you wrote: If we meditate on what is true we will come out victorious, secure in Christ.

    So true! We must not let other things define us and especially not our emotions 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement

    1. Hahaha!!! Debbie, obviously we have words for one another!! I’m a little behind on reading, but I will be visiting your blog today. I’m always encouraged by your messages. =)

  5. “Our feelings definitely do not define who we are.” Wow, do I need to stick that on my bathroom mirror and repeat it at each glance! Feelings are so hard to keep in check! I watch my daughters struggle with that already at a simple, childhood level.
    Great wisdom, as always!
    Happy Wednesday!

    1. Me too, Megs! In fact, I frequently have to write God’s truths on cards and tape them to my bathroom mirror. =)) Sometimes we just need to have those things in our face constantly so we don’t easily forget, right?? Thanks for visiting today!

  6. Thanks for a great post. It’s so important how we handle disappointment. It’s easy to negative self-talk when I feel like I’ve failed or I’m not good enough. I love when you mention that one way to deal with disappointment is to pray for the other person.

    1. Very true, Valerie! Handling disappointment is critical to not becoming bitter. Thank you for stopping by today!

  7. Lately, God’s been teaching me that disappointments are just a time to lean closer into Him. He is my comforter, and His Word always keeps me from getting discouraged. Great post, Alisa!

    1. Wow, that’s good Lauren. Times of hurt are excellent opportunities to press in to God. Many of those times it’s the last thing I want to do. Usually I want to sulk and feel sorry for myself….but we all know that accomplishes nothing! Thanks for visiting today!

  8. Wow, I love the point about how we fail, but that doesn’t mean we ARE failures. And yes, I also, like Sarah above, want to grow in learning to control my thoughts. I want to learn to reign them in and focus on God’s truth. Lots of wisdom here today, Alisa.

    1. That is a point I have to continually remind myself of- Failing does not equal being a failure. Battling those thoughts are not easy, but the more truth we put in the more those lies come out! Thanks for reading today, Betsy!

  9. Alisa, This was such an insightful and encouraging post!

    And perfect timing! My birthday is coming up this Friday and typically, I “hope” that certain things will happen, but they usually don’t. Sometimes I feel like the line between hope and expectation can be muddy. I promise myself I won’t get my expectations up, but hope is always in the background and I still end up getting disappointed.

    It’s hard to accept when someone you love, like a child, “isn’t capable” of something that should come natural as a loved one or child. After all, it comes naturally to everyone else’s children or so it seems… But indeed, it is the proper way to look at a relationship. Indeed we have Christ who is the ONLY ONE who does not disappoint. I like how you said to think of things that are pure and lovely. Really taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

    I found the following excerpt you shared on forgiveness so interesting and realized how true it is. “Forgiveness– To cancel a debt. I was very intrigued by this definition. It made sense. When we hold onto unforgiveness towards someone, we in essence are assigning a debt to them—one they can never repay unless we feel fully recompensed. We keep a tally of the wrongs and assign a value to them that cannot be paid back until our feelings have been justified. Our flesh screams “payback”, but our souls cry out for reconciliation. How do we handle the turmoil that brews inside of us?”

    I’m so glad I stopped by. I leave here feeling encouraged. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad Karen!! It is true that we can have expectations of people that really aren’t realistic. Sometimes we assume since they should be capable of something that they will actually do what we are expecting. Happy early birthday! Praying that God will bless you on your special day!

  10. Alisa, when I took speech in college, I had a professor totally the opposite: another female student stood to give her final speech of the class and froze. The teacher, after a minute or so of silence, got up and left the classroom. Turned out he walked around the building and reentered the class and said “hello” as if he had never been there the first time. He basically began the class all over again. Several students gave their final speeches and then this girl got up and did so very well. He made the difference for that student. Thanks for the reminder that we each can make a difference in others’ lives.
    And I want to turn my negative thoughts to positive ones at every turn. I am not real good at that but want to be.

    1. Wow!! That is so powerful, Linda! It really is amazing how people can make such an impact in our lives. What got me thinking about writing was actually an encouragement from my college English professor. He told me what a great writer I was and that I could be published someday. His words still hold strong in my mind and heart! You are so right, I want to be that person that says, “You can do this!!”

  11. You write beautifully. I do hope that you have overcome your fear of speaking in public.

  12. Disappointments could be really difficult to handle sometimes. They say we need to lower our expectations so we can avoid it.

    But these are wiser words. 🙂

  13. This…When faced with disappointment, the enemy tries hard to not just attack our behavior, but our identity. If the enemy can attack our identity, he gains a foothold so fast. So much great stuff to chew on here, both before disappointment hits and during!

  14. Alisa,
    This is so filled with helpful advice and just plain old truth! Disappointment will come. Whether it is from people or from situations, it will happen. When they do, the enemy wants nothing more than to attack our identity and derail us from following the path God has aligned for us! I love the hope you share. Tangible and spiritual. Thank you so much for joining me at Moments of Hope to spread the hope of Christ as far and wide as possible!
    I am sharing this one everywhere!

    Blessings and smiles,

    1. You are so sweet, Lori! I look forward to your encouraging messages each week as well. You have created a wonderful community with amazing bloggers. I look forward to reading and linking up each week.

  15. Alisa, this was so helpful to me. I recently went through a situation that wasn’t very significant, but it was disappointing to me. The chunk of your post that really hit home for me is the part about controlling your thoughts. We are supposed to take every thought captive and make sure that they glorify God, and that’s easy to forget! Our thoughts really are the source of everything we do and feel, and we can choose if we’ll glorify God with them or wallow in disappointment with them!

    1. Yes, we have the power to choose! I so often forget that, Jenna! It’s usually when I start feeling funky that I realize my thoughts have been all over the place! Im working on keeping them in check.

  16. Wonderful encouragement for myself and for nyone going thru a rough time!!!!! Truly when we place all of our disappointments, feelings, etc bfor God we can feel true freedom!!!!! What God had intended for us in th first place bfor the fall of man!!!!! Thank you for being a blessing to me today!!!!

    1. You are so right! Laying those things before the Lord definitely brings freedom!! I’m so glad this was a blessing to you, Melissa! Have a wonderful weekend!

  17. Great article! I guess what stood out to me was the part about what we take away from the Accuser from what someone said, not even necessarily meaning harm. It’s been helpful to me, even whenever I have a confusing or sudden emotional response to something, to ask the Lord what lie am I hearing or believing now? – like you said, an attack on our identity which magnifies a situation that doesn’t have to be so bad. Like when my kids’ room is messy and by 9am I am a horrible mother and failure! The Lord will reveal the real truth and that is not His voice! Great discussion to guide us out of discouragement Alisa!

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