Don’t Mistake Disappointment for Failure

Phyllis Inspiration 29 Comments

I have a dear friend who used the statement, “I failed, even though I tried everything I could to help her.” That broke my heart, and I began to think about the pain we often go through when we try to help someone we love or someone we care about. It may be a child, a friend, a sibling, or anyone that is significant in our lives.

When you read the definition of failure, it has many situations for which it applies. Failure to pay rent, failure to be accepted into college, or failure to perform as expected. Many of these are willful choices to ignore obligations or simply ignoring something you have committed to do.

But let’s not confuse failure with disappointment. Sometimes disappointment is so strong it makes us feel like a failure. Disappointment comes when huge amounts of effort have been put forth to help or solve a situation. We all have had times when we have tried to help a person that we care about, but the person doesn’t want to participate in the healing of a situation. Other times disappointment comes when we can’t control a situation that we have done our best to do.

“You can’t want something for someone more that they want it for themself!” That’s a quote I live by. I have had people work for me in which I saw such great potential to be a leader in our company, but they wanted everything handed to them instead of accomplishing something. I tried to counsel and encourage, but nothing happened. I was so disappointed that my efforts had not helped them to see their true potential. Again, I wanted something worse than they did. I was so disappointed that I thought I had failed as a mentor. But no, I had invested myself in that person. While I was disappointed, I was not a failure.

Reality is this: There are situations we can control and those that we can’t. All we can do is do our best in any given situation. Please understand some things are out of our control, not matter what we do or how much time we commit.

Do not let disappointment drag you into thinking you are a failure. Look up and realize your gift of caring is very special. When you love and care, it enriches your soul. It makes you and me better people by caring—it allows us to grow as a person.

Are you discouraged today over a situation in your life? Work through it, and please never give up or feel you have failed. You are special and have very special gifts to give to those around you.

Comments 29

  1. Phyllis dear ~
    I just discovered your blog through dear friend, Pam, and am so grateful for your
    insight and discernment. When I was rearing my young ones (sometimes in
    frustration) and feeling I might be failing, my beloved Mother counseled me,
    “You can live your life for others, but you cannot live their lives for them…they
    have their own lessons to learn.” It allowed me to step back with new perspective and calm approach.

  2. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. God clearly knew I needed them on this Mother’s Day. I have prayed and helped and encouraged both of my sons and yet they still seem to be stuck. Your words of “a person has to want to help themselves” really struck a chord in my heart. I am so grateful for what you said that I am going to print it out and put it in my Bible to read every time discouragement makes me want to think i have failed. Happy Mother’s Day

  3. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. God clearly knew I needed them on this Mother’s Day. I have prayed and helped and encouraged both of my sons and yet they still seem to be stuck. Your words of “a person has to want to help themselves” really struck a chord in my heart. I am so grateful for what you said that I am going to print it out and put it in my Bible to read every time discouragement makes me want to think i have failed. Happy Mother’s S Day

  4. Thank you for this great message of encouragement and inspiration, I think everyone experiences disappointment at some time in life.
    Through the years of dealing with life’s problems, I learned one thing is to forgive myself for letting people make me feel I’v done something wrong.
    There are givers and there are takers and we have to do the best we can then step back. Just tell God your needs and thank him for his answers.
    Gods peace will keep your thoughts and heart quiet and at rest as you trust in him. My prayer daily.

  5. Having to step back from a job that I wanted to do but was unable to do,it was a huge blow. Now I have been demoted and the subject of gossip, difficult to bear. I will square back my shoulders and lift my head knowing that I am not a failure. No one is more disappointed than I in this outcome. I am trusting God to bring something good from this situation. Thank you for the encouragement

    1. Carol, you hand in there. There is a plan and you will be fine. God Loves you unconditionally.

  6. Daily, I dread hearing the phone ring. Thank you for your encouraging words. These are words which speak directly to me at a time when I so needed to hear them!

  7. Thank you Phyllis for your beautiful words of wisdom. I’m an advocate for cancer patients and sometimes am not able to ‘get through’ to some of them regarding how they must do anything and everything to save their lives. I’ve given sound advice to all I’ve come in contact with-some take my advice-others don’t until it’s too late. I feel I’ve failed the others by perhaps not saying the right thing. I’ve been struggling with this, and I realize how right you are. I haven’t failed them, they just have their own way of doing things and as much as I try, I can’t make them follow my advice. It is very disappointing, heartbreaking and sad. I appreciate your wisdom and insight. You made me see the light. Thank you again.

  8. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdo ! These words ring deep into my heart! My friends and I have been trying to help another friend for years with no avail! Watching someone sink deep into despair when options are available is disheartening. Bless you.

  9. Peggy and Lynn, you have been prayed for! I, too, have been overloaded with endless paperwork just trying to retire.
    Phyllis, you certainly have a gift of sharing, caring and nurturing!

  10. I thank for this especially kind and encouraging message.
    I know you must have experienced this feeling of failure as it was so deeply and profoundly stated.
    I have found a single word that has given me such peace whenever I feel that I have failed. The word is “ACCEPTANCE “. I find that after all my attempts to help and encourage someone so dear to me has not worked out I must ACCEPT the fact that I cannot change the situation .
    Once I accept the fact that I have done all I can do it gives me peace to ACCEPT it.

  11. Dear Phyllis, just as so many others have commented, I really needed your kind words and comforting message today.
    It’s Mother’s Day this coming Sunday but I know I will not hear from my only son, nearly 40 years old — he considers it “just a Hallmark holiday”. I tried so hard to raise him well and be the best mom I could be, so it is really hard not to feel like a failure.
    Your thoughts help lift me up — I know that in my son’s heart, he is still and will always be God’s child, and I will keep praying for his return to faith and family.
    Bless you, Phyllis – you always seem to know just what is needed at the right time.

  12. So very true and so beautifully put…
    Thank you Phyllis…
    This couldn’t have come at a better time
    thank you

  13. Today I thought I had failed and reminded myself that I was to obey God and leave all the consequences up to Him. It’s 8:00 PM and God used me today to plant a seed that He will water. Thank you for reminding us that failure is not the same thing as disappointment.

  14. Years ago a colleague told me that every disappointment is an appointment with GOD. I didn’t understand what she meant at the time but over many years of numerous disappointments, I have found that GOD had something to teach me or just to let me experience His grace to persevere in spite of disappointment. Many times disappointment comes from unfulfilled expectations. Thank you, Phyllis, for reminding us to keep going, keep caring, keep looking for ways to help people around us even if things don’t go the way we’d hoped they would. You really have a gift of encouragement.

  15. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. I have had a few weeks of disappointing circumstances dealing with the death and then all the paperwork for one of my loved ones, who left me in charge of their affairs. At every turn I have encountered roadblocks and long lists of red tape involved with everything that has to be done to settle his affairs. It seems now days everyone thinks someone is trying to get something they are not entitled to, therefore it makes it so very hard for the people who should be getting what they are entitled to, mainly his children left behind without parents, because their mother passed away almost 5 years ago. After about 5 weeks of dealing with insurance, probate, etc, I was beginning to feel like I have failed these young girls. So thank you for your message of encouragement. I will continue to try and work thru all the paperwork, and discouraging people who work in these places. They never say let me help you get this done and taken care of, its always, no this form has to be filled out differently and you need all these things to go along with it before we can even begin the process of helping you. You can never speak to a person without being transferred about 4 times and then still can’t get the help you need. So onward I will march, until I finish all the forms and file all the papers needed to get these children what they are definitely entitled to getting. Please say a prayer for me, because I really need it right now. Thanks for your wonderful words of encouragement.

    1. Prayers to you, I too, am dealing with paperwork and helping my 95 year old aunt, every corner seems to be a challenge, even changing a mailing address when I have power of attorney. Stay strong and keep doing what you can…you can do this ❤️

  16. Thank you for those wonderful words of encouragement. We all need to understand that there is a large difference between disappointment and failure. Sometimes we forget.

  17. Phyllis, with tears running down my face, I thank you for this message today. I needed to hear this at this very moment as I was feeling such a failure- but I see now that I am really just so very disappointed, and that is ok. Bless you- your heart light shines in my darkness. ❤️

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