Have you ever lost a dream that was near and dear to your heart? Maybe you wanted to marry someone who now is married to someone else, tried opening a business but it didn’t work out in your favor, didn’t get that dream job you wanted, or maybe you always wanted to get your teachers certificate but could not pass the test?
Sometimes our lost dreams can make us feel regretful, ashamed, or even resentful. When life hands you disappointment (instead of lemons), there are a few coping strategies you can try to ease the pain.
Ask yourself: Is it an emergency?
When we lose a dream, it can be devastating. Anxiety is released into the system and everything can feel so rushed. Alice Boyes, Ph.D. advises you to ask yourself, “Has anything changed about my day today compared to yesterday?”
Usually, the answer is no. Use this to your advantage and breathe. Do what you were going to do yesterday today. Go about your day. Take a walk, hug your children, write in your journal, or binge Netflix.
“By enjoying normal things you help your brain and body understand that your situation isn’t the same as being in a building that’s on fire,” Boyes says. The normalcy of routine convinces our brains to calm down and lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Opportunities Come A-Knockin’
Bad things happen. It is a part of life. People thrive when they learn to ride the waves and cope (in a healthy way) with life’s problems. There are opportunities everywhere. You just have to look.
Boyes gives a relevant example of the coronavirus ruining our plans. “In coronavirus times, it might be moving from a big city. Use the push to do something that you weren’t as motivated to do under the other circumstance. When a door closes, what opportunities open in your mind?”
Don’t fixate on “what could have been”
Boyes explains that focusing on a lost opportunity or “what could have been” does not get you very far. Find new ways to solve the problem or activities to solve your emotional needs.
Boyes says, “You need to think more broadly about why the dream was meaningful to you. When you do, you’ll see other ways to meet the (emotional or other) needs you were attempting to meet.”
Resources, Resources, Resources!
When trying to solve a problem, utilize your resources! With the internet right at your fingertips, you can use these resources to get back on your feet.
Boyes affirms, “Some people have ample material resources — e.g., they can easily pick up and move rather than being stuck in a small apartment during coronavirus… What are your unique skills, relationships, talents, drives, quirky ways of looking at the world, etc.?
Self-Care is Key to Recovery
When I say self-care, I don’t just mean bubble baths and facials. Take some time to do some emotional self-care and tend to your emotional needs. If you need a little extra time to recover and feel sad, that’s okay. Just make sure you don’t get too comfortable in your sadness. If you want to spring into action immediately, that’s fine, too, but know that rest is not considered weak.
Boyes elucidates, “There might be moments when you need a good cry. There will be others when you need to lighten the mood with some humor. And yet other moments when throwing yourself into something else important to you feels better. You can listen to these ebbs and flows, and alternate.”