How to Overcome Disappointment

I see it so many times … in life and on Facebook and social media sites.  People are disappointed in people.  “This person is a huge disappointment to me.”  Or, “That person really hurt me by saying what he/she did.”  Or, “My grandchildren are such a disappointment to me.  I never hear from them unless they want something!”

That’s life … you need to get over it.  But how?

Growing up I was really, really, thin skinned and could get my feelings hurt at the drop of a hat.  If a person looked at me the wrong way, or answered a question different than I thought he should, or simply made a statement that was not very complimentary toward me … I’d get my damn feelings hurt.  As a baby I’d cry … as an adolescent it would anger me to the point of fighting.  I thought because I could play a little guitar and sing I was the master that everyone should be bowing too … but most people did not feel like I did.  I remember once when I was in 7th grade a person (Gary P) said something to me that I did not like and everyday for the next 13 days he and I would go to “fist city” on the school ground.  He would win one and I’d win the other … if there really was a winner.

Then I was forced to “grow up.”  Uncle Sam sent me to Vietnam.  Boy you talk about disappointment that came my way.  Nothing in Vietnam, for a while anyhow, went my way.  My first tour of duty was a total disappointment day in and day out.  I was forced to spend my first tour of duty on a base camp supporting the men who were fighting.  I fought too … but it was not with the enemy … it was with American soldiers.  Yes, when I was there we had racial tensions among the black and white GIs … and unfortunately it did not stop with just tension … it led to fist fights at every turn (and sometimes it was not only fists that were being used as weapons).  It got so bad that our company commander made us lock our weapons up in the arms room until he told us we would need them (which was rare). we were safe and secure behind a perimeter that was guarded 24/7 by armed soldiers (even I pulled my stent of duty there for the first 90 days I was in country).

I was a kid, just 18 years old with pent up adrenaline and energy forced to spend my time working on helicopters rather than flying them into combat.  Huge disappointment since I went there, I thought, to become a “HERO” and was feeling more like a “ZERO.”

I extended my tour of duty voluntarily because I simply did not feel like I was ready to “come back to the world yet.”  Back then we called America the world.  Vietnam was not part of our planet.  I was not ready to come back because I had not done what I set out to do.  Something was still missing.  I was determined to be more than a ZERO if it killed me … and it almost did.

During my second tour of duty I was housed on a part of the base camp that also had American Civilians (Contract Workers) with the National Helicopter Association who were there to do the more technical work that the Army failed to teach us so-called mechanics to do.  Most of these guys (like their military counterparts) were nothing more than drunks or drug/pot heads who spent the day working and the night partying.  Personally, I was of the drinking variety back then.

This is when met my future wife, Le.  She was not an angel either and could put away as much whiskey as I could.  In fact, we were both about 3 sheets to the wind when I popped the question and she answered it in the affirmative.  Neither of us drink now, but could really put it away back then.

It was on the very night we decided to tie the knot that I was told that one of the civilians had been making passes at her after finding out I had an interest in her.  Needless to say … disappointment and anger set it … I went on the hunt.

I found him about the same time he found me.  It was dark with nothing lighting up the  midnight other than the stars and moon in the sky.  When he started walking toward me he un-slung his AK-47 assault rifle and all I heard was two metallic clicks.  I jumped on him like flies on manure, without even thinking and with no regard for my life or his.  Remember, GIs (because of our in-fighting) could not carry weapons on the this particular base camp and civilians were not supposed to either.

I took his rifle away from him and began to beat him with it.  When it was over he was lying on the ground in blood from his many head wounds.  With tears in his eyes he looked up at me as said, “I was only coming to tell you I was sorry for what you heard and that I was leaving country tomorrow, so I wanted to say good-bye and wish you both luck in your future.”  I grunted, cursed him and walked away shaking with rage and adrenaline and went and had other pint of whiskey, before passing out in someone’s room that I did not even know.  After he told me what he did I felt about 1 inch tall.

I later learned that due to the fight and the fact that he had an unauthorized weapon, he was terminated from his job.  It’s also my understanding that he had several stitches applied before leaving the country somewhat disfigured.  I also found out that what he was supposed to have done never happened.  Some people over there knew how to push my buttons and they did it very well.  Or, perhaps I just expected too much from them.

I was never penalized or written up for the event … I’m not even sure the Army ever even heard about it.  Or if they did … they never understood who was really involved.  Apparently, he never told them.  He simply (based on what I’d heard) said he was jumped from behind because someone wanted his weapon.  I also found out the two metallic clicks I heard was him taking out his 30 round magazine and removing a round from the chamber so that he could be sure no one was shot.

Ten short days later I was headed home.  But something changed.  I went over a kid (18 years old) and came back a man (20 years old).  That one event in my life taught me more than anything I learned until then or sense then.   And I learned it without spending one day in actual combat with the North Vietnamese enemy.

I’ve written about “Lessons in Disappointment” to my grandchildren in a journal I am writing for them.  However, I did not tell them how I learned it – though if some of them are reading this now – they will know.

The fact is … there are going to be disappointments in life.  Some will come from outside (caused by others) but most will come from inside (caused by you).  Recently I was talking to my brother, Ed, and without knowing it … he and I have somewhat adapted the same policy or philosophy when it comes to disappointment.  We state it differently, but it means the same thing.

In my simple non-college language here is how I told it to my grand kids in the journal I am leaving to them when I die …

People will disappoint you when they don’t meet your expectations of them.

So, if you want to live a life of NO DISAPPOINTMENT … don’t expect anything from anybody.  I gave them an example:

My grand kids never call me just to talk like some grand kids call their grandparents.  They do call when they are trying to raise money for something (ha ha).  But I let them know I am not disappointed in them for not calling their Pappy or Mimi because I never expected them to call.  I never called my grandparents, why should I expect my grand kids to call me – even though they all have their own cell phones (which us older folks were not privy to growing up).  You see, if I don’t expect them to call … I can’t be disappointed when they don’t.

Now, Ed, says it a different way … but like I said … it means the same thing.  In his business/college acumen he states:

Expectations minus Reality = Disappointment!


Some take away’s from this article:

Quit being disappointed in other people.  Life is too short and disappointment and worry only makes it that much shorter.  People are IDIOTS and by that, I mean we ALL have our own idiosyncrasies.  Start expecting too much of other people and you will live a life a disappointment.

It is okay to expect a lot of yourself … and if you can’t live up to your self-expectations you deserve to be disappointed.  I’m certainly disappointed in my actions to a gentleman who I ran across in Vietnam.  By the way, without telling you his full name since I don’t know it) I will tell you his first name was Jerry.  With my first name being Jerrell … that was close enough for me to take the name Jerry so that I would never forget the wrong I did to this person.  I would love to apologize to this individual, but without knowing his last name there is little chance that I would ever find him.

Did I let that one wrong hold me back?  No!  I used it and built on it.  Here is a philosophy I will close on that I picked up from a motivational speaker that sums up my belief in myself well.

When it comes to you, Jerry …

Expect the Best of yourself … Anticipate the Worst from yourself … and Capitalize on whatever comes your way.

I expect nothing from no one except me … so when it comes to disappointment I am the only one I can be disappointed with.  The rest of you should consider doing likewise.  Don’t expect anything of me and I can never disappoint you.  I will never expect anything of you so that you can never disappoint me.  Remember:  When you disappoint yourself don’t go down the road of self-pity.  Learn from it and Capitalize on it.

Peace, Love and Happiness to all!

16 thoughts on “How to Overcome Disappointment

  1. Cedric

    This is perfection at its finest, I’m taking a lot away from this and will apply it to my personal life.
    Great writing, thank you!

    1. Cedric, thank you so much. I’m glad you liked it. It took awhile for me to start living my life like this … But it sure has made life a lot more pleasant to live.

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  3. Linda Young

    I made the decision long ago to live without regret and disappointment. In just over the last year, I have learned that the only person who can disappoint me is well – me. It’s in all in how you look at things. People will always come and go in our lives and when they are here, they are here to teach us something, even if they do not stay in our lives forever.

    My expectations for myself, are way higher than what anyone else has for me and as long as I am happy with my life, then anyone who is disappointed in me, wasn’t really expecting me to live for me but for them. Life is WAY too short for all that.

    Just my thoughts. 🙂

  4. David Nix

    This was a great read! Thanks for sharing this Dad! And, I as well learned a couple of lessons in this one article that I can see will help me today in my career. Thanks again for continuing to teach me.

    (By the way, for my kids, let’s hook you up to SnapChat. You’ll hear/see all you want with them. Lol)

  5. David, you are quite welcome. That is the whole purpose of “some” of the articles I will be putting out … to teach life’s lessons that I have learned along the way. For the grandkids (all of them) I am handwriting a journal (old school) that is to be given to them at my death. There are only two problems … it is in cursive so they may not be able to read it (LOL) and it is in book format which means one of my kids may have to take it and have photocopies made to actually give to the grandkids. If I have great-grandkids when I pass … it will be for them as well so someone needs to trach these kids how to read and write cursive (LOL). I’m thinking about buying a hand scanner to scan each page for electronic storage should I have a fire and/or lose it as some point in time.

    1. Jeanie … thanks so much for reading them. Here’s what I just shared with David Cornelison so I will share it with you as well: “As I was telling Sherry Nix Duncan this morning … if we don’t share our stories to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren … know one else will. If you have a blog or ever start one let me know and I will surely follow it. This is why we set up the Nix Family Group page on Facebook. Here’s wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas this year. Jerry Nix”

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