How to Keep Disappointment from Derailing Our Dreams

Disappointment comes to us all. We believe in someone and are betrayed. Or we apply for a job and it doesn't happen. Someone makes a promise and they break that promise. We try to achieve something – we fall short. It happens to everyone.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose birthday and legacy we celebrate today said,

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.

But how can we do this?

Who Do You Feed?

I think that we can prevent bitterness the same way we prevent scrub oaks from growing in the flower bed: we pull them up when they are small.

However, we shouldn't continue to revisit the hurt and focus and dwell on it. Instead, we must learn to redirect, forgive, and move on.

Perhaps the best explanation can be found in an old tale from the Cherokee Indians, the Legend of Two Wolves, that goes like this,

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

We cannot help being disappointed. Disappointment is a normal part of life. Inevitably it comes to us all.

Decide What To Do with Your Disappointment

However, when we're disappointed, we can help what we do with it. Will we feed our anger? Do we feed our self-pity? Shall we feed our resentment?

If we do, bitterness will grow. It has too.

If you live long enough, you'll meet someone consumed by their anger, self-pity, and resentment. They have fed all their disappointment to the angry wolf. He crowds out the good.

But if you live long enough, you'll also meet someone who should be angry but is not. Who should pity herself, but does not. Who should be resentful but is full of kindness and joy and peace.

You can't pick your pain. However, you can pick your wolf.

Today, as you pursue excellence, think of your most recent pain. Are you processing that pain in healthy ways? Or are you revisiting it to feed your anger, self-pity, and resentment?

The wolf you choose to feed makes all the difference in who you become.

This post is day thirteen of 80 days of excellence. I've created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere