Are you a disappointment?

April 17, 2022

Are you a disappointment?

One of the hardest sayings to hear in the English language is “You are a disappointment” It is even harder when you know there is a kernel of truth to it. Disappointment can be a great internal motivator or a manipulative tool.

We all want to fit in

Most of us want to fit in. It is part of our factory installed operating software. We see it everywhere; fashion and language are just 2 examples that signal you are in the club or you are not.

Inside the community, there is safety and acceptance. Outside, you are on your own. Once you are on the inside, you must carry your weight and you shouldn’t mess up too much…. let us say you don’t want to be a disappointment or you might be ostracised. Think of any movie with the new guy going to prison. To stay alive, he must find his team. The joining fee can be extortionate, but when he gets into the club, there is protection and the chance of upward social mobility within his new family.

Unless you are a psychopath, you too will need and want to fit in to some degree within your society, family or workplace and you will measure yourself to the received standards.

Do we try too hard to keep others happy?

I’m a natural empath and can read emotional tells like most people read a book. As the saying goes, “you can’t please all the people all the time.” I know intuitively when people are not pleased and I spent most of my life trying not to cause disappointment. To keep everybody around me happy. One wrong look, a smile that didn’t come, the merest signal of disapproval and I was struck down with the fear of being cast out like a biblical scape goat. It is tiring balancing all the external “Thou shalt nots, and mentally corrosive trying to meet others arbitary standards.

Held in bondage to disappointment

It is very easy to get trapped by these pressures and before long you can live in a fog of discouragement. It is a dark and formless hell. Soon you just get used to it and in time, if you don’t pull yourself out of the funk, you give up. How many of us over the years have lived in this no-man's-land - no longer prepared to resist the absurdity of it all, almost losing the will to live? We take our thin gruel and claim we are happy for it.

For years, I battled this feeling of inadequacy, borne of my impressions of others’ disappointment in me and my shame at not being up to the mark in every area of life. One evening it came to me though - I used to call it depression, but it wasn’t. I was weighed down by “being a disappointment”. Objectively I wasn’t. Subjectively I was. When I gave the feeling a name - that was the moment that I took control.

I have now realised that you can only work with what you have been given. Your character flaws are real but it is your gifts that should define you. We spend far too much energy on damage limitation and not enough on kindling the internal fire within us- this is a mistake. Suddenly, the expression about not hiding your light under a bushell makes sense. The people around might have your best interests at heart or maybe they want you to conform to their narrow expectations of how things should be. When you realise this - it is like being released from a prison, you are no longer under the tryanny of the camp guards.

Don't ignore disappointment - Is it telling you something?

I’m not suggesting we should never feel disappointment in ourselves  - This is sign of a healthy spiritual immune system. It is an emotion that lets us know we have transgressed against eternal principles. . When we do wrong or miss the mark, we should feel a pang of shame but also feel a rocket up our backside to remind us not to do it again. It should motivate us to improve. My philosophy is that disappointment is a reminder to cut out the rot of the habitual sins and failings. The point is to do it on your terms. It should never be about fitting in, but aligning your life to the true and tested eternal principles. Once the foundations are in place then the real work can begin on maximising our strengths.


The difficulty comes when we wear our shame and disappointment as a heavy, leaden cloak and we fail to strive. This is why the Christian message is so powerful and has resonated through the centuries.

When measured against 'the law' we are a guilty, bankrupt disappointment - But Jesus says  "I'll pay this." You are let out of debtor's prison. The expectation is that you learn from your mistakes, clean up your life and put the absolute best of yourself to work for his glory. Disappointment is the first transitory step towards a new a better life.

Self improvement is a noble aim

Your renewed effort and good works won’t save you eternally - Only Jesus can do that, but they can make our time here on this earth more rewarding. We all miss the mark every day, but some of us do it more than we need to. This leads us to disappointment. My struggle is to get to where I fail, but cut out the bit about failing more than I need to. When we consider the compound effect; every action counts. Every single action. They either work for or against us. In the moment, they are insignificant, but in the fullness of time, they will shape your character, your health, and your future.

If you are disappointed in yourself, let it be for the right reasons. Because of ongoing, continual failure. Your inability to clean up your life. Your humanity makes you a failure, but it doesn’t end there. The whole point of the journey is to get better. Improvement is its own reward. As you progress, the crushing disappointment that you feel will lessen and this mental energy can be turned to more productive and creative work.

We all miss the mark - your purpose is to miss it a lot less often.

Deal with your habitual sins

My challenge to you is to identify those areas where you fail continually. Work out when, how, in what ways, the why and put in guardrails and a plan of action. You know these areas in your life. They have plagued you for years. Your failure to finally deal with them is sapping your self respect, your vigour and the will to fight.

Parting shot

We all miss the mark - your purpose is to miss it a lot less often.