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How to Turn Disappointments into Successes

Life will always bring unexpected, disappointing events; more important than the events themselves, however, is how we decide to respond to them. 

A friend of mine recently expressed to me the devastation he felt when he returned home from his mission earlier than he had anticipated. Even though the reason he came back was the COVID-19 pandemic, he felt guilty. He felt as though he had somehow “cheated the system.”

“The key is to boldly face disappointments and the pains that accompany them.” —Jacob de Jager

Photo by Miguel Bruna

Like my friend, Elder Jacob de Jager also experienced upset plans. In his article “Overcoming Discouragement,” Elder de Jager draws on his experience as a young man in Holland during World War II to explain how to face disappointment. He says that the key to overcoming setbacks “is to boldly face disappointments and the pains that accompany them.” Rather than hiding or denying your feelings, which can lead to burnout and feelings of failure, let yourself feel sadness. Doing so can help you approach the situation with humility and faith. 

“Disappointments can be seen…as occasions for great personal growth and even the beginning of truly outstanding performance,” writes Elder de Jager. As we work through frustrating events, we learn to adjust our expectations, evaluate our goals, and scrutinize our motivations—reflections that may not have occurred without the disappointing event.

Many of us, like my friend, have experienced a variety of disappointments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though letdowns in life will not cease, approaching these events with the optimistic eye of progression can turn a disappointment into a priceless lesson.

Read more 

Read Elder Jacob de Jager’s article “Overcoming Discouragement” for more insights on how to face disappointment.


—Mikaela Wilkins, Latter-day Saint Insights


Find more insights

Read about confronting adversity in Joseph B. Wirthlin’s talk “Come What May, and Love It,” or watch this highlight video of his talk.

Learn about finding joy in all situations by reading Laura Bushman’s article “Finding Joy: Roses, Forget-Me-Nots, and Golden Tickets.”

Watch the video “Good Things to Come” from Jeffrey R. Holland to learn more about pressing forward in hardships.

Check out Abby Crimm’s article “Facing Ambiguity with Faith” for insights on dealing with uncertainty. 

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  1. Pingback: Reflecting on the Pandemic - Latter-day Saint Insights

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