Lessons for Dealing with Disappointment & Letting Go

dealing with disappointment

“As for the future, your task is not to forsee it but to enable it.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Today I lost my job. There may not ever be a great time to lose a job that accounts for the majority of your monthly income, but this was a particularly low time to be told my services were no longer needed.

When I graduated two years ago, degree in hand, I kicked my feet up and waited for the job offers to come pouring in. Needless to say, they trickled — never poured — and the financial abundance I was waiting for never actually showed up.

I’ve always been optimistic, believing that if I trusted in my skills and power to attract the experiences and opportunities I desire, I could make it happen in BIG ways — right now.

But after a series of short-lived jobs and surviving on a less than meager income, I can easily say that my once vibrant brand of hope and faith are looking a little ragged and torn.

Yet, even today as I calculate my expenses and re-prioritize my budget, I recognize that each of these experiences individually has completely changed the way I see disappointment and transformed the way I deal with letting go.

Here are just a handful of the lessons I’ve learned — the one’s I’ll be repeating to myself until the next opportunity comes my way:

Lesson #1: Nothing is permanent

Part of the reason why we struggle so much when things are “taken from us” is because we tend to see everything as permanent — jobs, relationships, etc. We feel slighted because “that wasn’t suppose to happen.” But the very fact that it happened meant that it was suppose to happen — that particular experience or relationship was suppose to be short lived, whether that was our desire or not.

Life is fluid. Our ability to find happiness in the journey is directly correlated to how willing we are to let go and go with the flow.

Lesson #2: We can’t always see the bigger picture

Two months from now I could say that losing my job was the best thing that ever happened to me. But before I get to that place, I have to remember that this small change is part of a bigger plan — one I don’t have a full grasp on yet.

Shutting ourselves off out of anger or frustration when these things occur only keeps us from moving towards something greater and more suited to our passion and purpose. Remaining open to the possibilities is key.

Lesson #3: Sometimes we need to be pushed in the right direction

If I were to actually stop and think about it, the job I lost had very little to do with the goals and dreams I have for myself and my career. It really was just a stepping stone.

Sometimes the Universe has a way of stripping us down to nothing in order to get us to take on the tasks that we’ve been avoiding — the ones that might actually reap the rewards we’ve been dreaming about.

If we aren’t willing to make the hard decisions ourselves, like dropping the relationship that’s making us miserable or moving out of a place that no longer suits us, things tend to happen that force us to make those changes.

I wouldn’t have quit this job out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills — but who’s to say this isn’t making room for something far more lucrative?

Lesson #4: A negative response only leads to more misery

It’s easy to fall into a downward spiral when our core is shaken by something we weren’t expecting. When I heard this morning that I had lost my job, I wanted nothing more than to crawl back in bed and do nothing for the rest of the day.

There’s certainly a time and place for that, but I knew that, in deciding to use my time productively, I could combat this feeling of being overwhelmed and build a positive foundation of hope for the rest of my week.

Go to that good feeling place. Do something that boosts you up instead of something that contributes to your sadness, anger and frustration.

Now here’s to BIGGER opportunities that are waiting just around the corner…

Photo by Helga Weber

23 thoughts on “Lessons for Dealing with Disappointment & Letting Go”

  1. I once had a boss that told me you aren’t really part of the workforce until you’ve been either fired or laid off. It’s part of the “working life cycle.” After going through a series of lay-offs, I now know what he meant. :)

    Like you said, jobs aren’t permanent, even if we’d like them to be. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure or life has ended. Glad to see you have a positive attitude about the experience and great advice on how to move forward.

    1. Deborah-

      That’s very interesting — I never thought of it that way, but I believe that’s true. Also, being laid off or fired actually helps us to decide what works for us and what doesn’t.

  2. This is so well written! Thanks very much! I think the reason we kind of fall into that menality of wanting the job (or anything else) to be permanent is that there was a time (In America) where many people pretty much did have those “lifers” jobs – they worked the same job their whole lives and had the security etc when they retired. My parents had such jobs and since they have a different mentality – I think they have a hard time grasping why the job isn’t like that anymore. They really don’t understand why people can’t find job now. I think they are still under the illusion that their are still jobs out there like they had with employers who were loyal to their employees and wanted to keep them around forever if they were good workers. There aren’t. I think that the way the work world and society is changing as a big impact on this. We have to get used to even more change and instability that their was in the work world in the past.

    1. Kimberly –

      That’s very true, we are a part of a generation that doesn’t know the type of job stability that our parents and grandparents did. Part of me is happy about that — I know that I might have 3 different careers in my lifetime and that’s exciting. Thanks for the insight!

  3. All excellent points, Kayla!

    And everything you wrote applies to almost everything we do in life, not just jobs. I particularly like the idea that we need to be able to go with the flow of life. Our resistance to change creates so much of the pain we experience in life.

    Thanks for the clarity of thought and insight. Very well done!

  4. Good on you, Kayla — that you can see this situation in its context and yet be able to ground yourself and be centered. You’re set for life!!

    So much of life is not that it is uncertain but how we will relate and embrace that uncertainty, how we will deal with it and keep our human wholeness.

    Another job is awaiting your grounded presence. Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights.

    1. Susie –

      Thank you so much for the kind words. You are totally right, another job was waiting for me — two days before this was posted I received a job offer! Yay! :)

  5. Hello Kayla,

    Very encouraging words. Having a personal struggle after a relationship that just wasn’t working and a job that is barely paying the bills. Thankyou for your help.

  6. i’d add that health is also not permanent – and something we shouldn’t take for granted. it affects every sphere of our life and sets off gearing motions to make our jobs, relationships, friendships etc flow in a way we don’t expect. i got ill 18 months ago with severe depression. yet only with this hiccup, can i have the time to step back and look at the big picture, and learn to go with the flow a bit more. being sick was the universe’s push to me towards a new direction. so we let go of the past. i’m learning to let go. and to regain my health, so it sets off my life in a more positive direction :)
    thanks for the article!

  7. Kayla,

    Emotional post. You see, these are kind of lessons we learn when we are low, feeling sad and under the shadow of uncertainty. But if we take a closer look at the uncertainties, they could be our biggest teachers. They can teach us patience,they can give us more courage and finally they will lead us towards something better.

    As you said, nothing is permanent. A hope filled heart is what we all need. I am happy that you are back on track with a bang :-)

  8. Hi Kayla. Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. I am really struggling at both home and work for a few highly personal reasons. I try my best not to dwell on these but sometimes it just gets a bit too much.

    Yesterday was a particularly hard day for me. It seemed like I was caught in the downward spiral of negativity, one thing going wrong after the other. I am so glad to have found your post. Thanks for reminding me that things will change, and I cannpt possibly see the bigger picture now.

    Normally I am such a positive person, I have been thrown some hard balls in my life but nobody can tell that from my writing. I am the person everybody turns to when they need a shoulder to cry on. But sometimes you do need to find support from others and you did it for me today. Thank you. :)

  9. When it comes to losing a job I think many of us react negatively for that same reason you said: fear of not paying bills. Even when we are doing jobs that aren’t our chosen path, we do it solely for the pay check.

    When you are aligned with your true passions and striving to move towards them sometimes unexpected things happen. The loss of your job could be the universe trying to move you just one bit closer to that job.

    When you make choices based out of fear, generally thats exactly what you bring into your life more. If you become desperate, you might take another job that you don’t really like but pays the bills, you may get in a relationship with someone thats “ok” but “its better than being single”.

    None of these situations are what you really want its just filler for when the real thing comes along. Which really is a myth anyway, things don’t just fall in our laps. If there’s a certain job you want, a relationship, etc. you must be going for it.

    You pursue the person, let them know your feelings, apply for the positions you want (or create them), and the like. Waiting for it to be given to you isn’t how it works.

    Learning from the experiences we have in life is a great attitude to always have. Take the good from the bad and keep a positive attitude.

  10. I lost a job once not because i was fired but I simply resigned because I can’t stand being bullied by the boss. It was hard at first not knowing what to do next or where to turn to. It was the darkest moment of my life. It greatly affected my life esteem with all the bills to pay and the money that I used to send home to my mum. It took a while for me to put my two feet back together as I realized self pity is not getting me anywhere. Yes being positive helps tremendously but taking action is equally beneficial as it takes us to the next step literally. Great post, thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Sometimes the right words come along at just the right time.

    The time was right for these words and these lessons.

    Thanks for sharing and good luck with the job offer.

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