Have you ever found yourself on the fence of pessimism and optimism? Psychologists would call that a healthy upbringing, or a well idealized psyche with equal influences of both fantasy and reality. However, no matter how balanced your psyche is, a let down is still a let down. We’re interesting creations. We are almost programmed to look for the negative. Like a constant look out for potential situations where we might get screwed; whether it be a relationship, buying a new car, moving across the world (Hi), or the new job you just got that is too good to be true. Because of this, we hardly ever get to experience anything in the moment that it happens. It’s like we live in a constant state “of too good to be true”. It’s natural, really. The way our brains learn and grow is by comparing this new thing to some other thing that we have already experienced and we base our judgements and opinions of it off of that. We don’t let it just be what it is. There are so many different scientific reasons we can look at that cause the emotional turmoil of a let down. The main reason is that your body releases endorphins when it gets excited that gives you a sense of euphoria, or when you become so happy you hardly know what to do with yourself. Your brain ignores this and let’s you enjoy your happiness for the time being, but the second it stops, you’re constantly on the look out again. It’s like the feeling that something is wrong in the world but you can never seem to put your finger on what it is. But, there’s another type of let down that I think we can all relate to and we all tend to dread a little more.
Let’s take a look at someone who was let down more times than he knew what to do with.
In Genesis 37 we get our first look at a young lad named Joseph. Joseph had.. a rough go at things initially. Really, he had a rough go for the first 30 years of his life. His mother died when he was very young. His father was a drunk and had an odd way of showing favoritism towards him apart from his other brothers. He was the second youngest of 11 brothers at the time..
I’m the youngest in my family. I grew up in the shadow of my brother and my sister. That’s typical, but can you imagine growing up in the shadow of your younger sibling? Joseph was 17 at the time, so imagine how old Reuben, his oldest brother, would have been and how he must have felt.
Joseph was the favorite of his father because, well, he was the first son of his second beloved wife, Rachel. Jacob, Joseph’s father, held him up on a pedestal because of this. Because of his father’s favoritism, his brothers despised and plotted to kill him. Joseph also had a gift with dreams. Meaning he would have dreams and could interpret them. He could even interpret other people’s dreams as well. All the more reason to kill him, his brother’s thought. Talk about a let down, right?
It gets worse.
Instead of his brother’s killing him, they decide to throw him in a big hole in the ground. Then they sell him away to traveling merchants. Joseph finds himself in Egypt. He ends up in the house of Potiphar. He does such a good job of things that he winds up being ranked just under Potiphar at one point. But, with another high, comes another let down. Potiphar’s wife tried to entice the poor guy *(Lie with me, buddy)! When he rejected her, she framed him for rape. Potiphar had him thrown in jail.
By this point, many people would be pointing fingers at God, or the world, or other people they could easily blame — like his father, brothers, or Potiphar’s wife — and say that He/they let me down. Joseph, however, didn’t. He ends up making friends while in jail. One of them even regains favor in Potiphar’s eyes and makes it out. Joseph is then let down by him in the long run by letting him sit in prison for two more years. Talk about a let down.
I could keep going about Joseph, but I think we get the idea. When people close to us let us down, it’s just devastating. You trusted them. You put your faith in them. You believed in them. It’s a hard fall to get back up from. I wish it could be said that it gets easier the more times it happens, but it doesn’t. If anything, it paralyzes the once child-like fantasy part of your personality, leaving you only to see negativity. Living in a land where there is no silver lining.
There are so many things we could learn from Joseph about being let down. But these are the ones I want to emphasize.
When you are let down:
1. It’s normal
2. It’s not your fault
3. It’s not always their fault
4. Time mends wounds
It’s normal to be let down. While some will see more let down than others, everyone deals with it the best way they know how, which sometimes is not very healthy.
No, it isn’t your fault and it truly isn’t fair. You didn’t do anything to deserve this let down or disappointment. All you did was put your faith in someone who you thought you could trust. I mean, after all, it is “so-and-so”. They have never let you down before, and even if they have it was never something this big. It’s hard. Now you’re stuck here not knowing where to go next. Don’t be mad at yourself because you trusted them and don’t let this make you less likely to trust another person. It’s not your fault.
No, it’s not always their fault. Just like it isn’t your fault for trusting them, it isn’t their fault for wanting to help you so much that they maybe overestimated themselves. However, this isn’t always the case. There are some who don’t care that they let us down, there are even some who purposefully do it. There are some people who let us down because of their own insecurities. When that happens, take a breathe, and remember who you are. Like I said, we all make poor judgements.
Here’s a little bit more science about let downs. Those times we get really emotional highs, like when we feel like we can fly through a wall, it’s no surprise that we overestimate our abilities in those moments. Sometimes, those moments can lead us to make promises we can’t keep, or even lead us to trust someone too quickly. After all, our brain lets us enjoy the happiness, remember? We don’t have our “too good to be true” vision turned on in those moments.
The one’s that hurt you the most, family or close friends, they truly don’t do it on purpose. They want to help and see every one of your endeavors succeed. Their aspiration to see you succeed can sometimes hurt you more than help you.
With that said, time does heal. It’s always difficult to see a situation when you are inside of it. You don’t know how things will work out, or if they even will. You’re angry, which is also normal and understandable. You’re sad, who could blame you? When some of us experience sad times, we instead channel that sadness through anger. Anger seems better to some of us. When you’re angry you feel powerful and in control. When you’re sad, you feel weak and vulnerable. Time does the heart good.
My prayer for us is this: That we can take our let downs, and exist outside of them. That we can see our story from more than our own perspective. That we can allow ourselves to trust again. That we let go of our anger. That we let go of our grudges. That we let those dwindle away leaving us renewed and refined by our experiences.
Breathe in, breathe out.
*Inside joke. Hopefully at least a couple of you who get it will read this blog and laugh.