How Not To Care When You Don’t Get What You Want

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated March 5, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Losing or failing to get something you want can be a painful and frustrating experience. Because it can be easy to build up expectations for how things should be, disappointment is often an inevitable part of being human. You may be struggling not to care after experiencing disappointment, which is common. When circumstances make it impossible for you to have what you desire, it can be important to learn how to put setbacks in the past and move on to enjoy what is yours to have.

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Struggling with circumstances outside of your control?

Enjoy what you already have

You may find that you experience more disappointment when you spend more time thinking about what you lack rather than enjoying what you have. To combat these feelings, consider starting a list of the things you've desired and then received in the past. Additionally, you might try to notice the positive things you have in your life right now.

You might have a tendency to focus on what is shiny and new rather than remembering what you already have. Taking a step back and practicing gratitude may help you appreciate the things in your life that bring you joy and contentment. In some cases, you may stop caring that you didn’t get what you wanted because you realize you already have what you need.

Focus on something new

When you're denied something that you want very much, it can be natural to focus on it, whether it’s an item, activity, or person. You might even be consumed by thoughts of the object of your desire. However, this behavior isn't always helpful and can even turn unhealthy. Instead, it might be more effective to turn your attention to something different. The next time you’re after something you desire, consider whether it's something you have the power to obtain or something that may only frustrate you again. You might try to aim for practical goals rather than those that are unlikely to be fulfilled.

Life can still move on even when you don’t get what you initially wanted. If what you missed out on was some type of opportunity, consider focusing on capitalizing on the next one that becomes available. Remaining vigilant in life and moving on to the next goal rather than dwelling on the past may keep you healthier and mentally stronger.

Hobbies can help

Hobbies can be a helpful distraction during times of disappointment. Whenever you’re feeling bothered by something that didn’t come to fruition, consider throwing yourself into a hobby that you enjoy. This may allow you to focus less on whatever it is that’s frustrating you. There are many different activities you can choose from, depending on your interests. A hobby can be something as simple as playing a game, but you could also take up something like crocheting, woodworking, or any number of other things.

Exercise

Exercising can be an effective way to help yourself feel better about losing out on something important. Spending some time working on your physical fitness may improve both your physical and mental health. Doing something positive for your body may allow you to develop a healthier mindset and move on from disappointment faster. Exercise can also be a useful distraction when you need to get your mind off of something.

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Spend time with friends

Spending time with friends may help you put your feelings of loss or discontent in the past. This may be especially true if what you wanted was a new relationship. If you want to have a romantic relationship with someone and can't have it right now, you might consider revisiting old friendships that made you happy in the past.

You can also try to meet new people if you feel that new connections could occupy your thoughts even more effectively. That thing you initially wanted may soon seem far less important when you have a circle of friends to be there for you. At the very least, your troubles might not feel quite as big as they seemed before.

Think about what matters most to you

Everyone has different priorities in life, and we each find contentment through different means. By considering the things that matter most to you, you may be able to determine your next steps toward moving on from whatever has disappointed you. For example, if what you treasure most in life are the people you love, thinking about them may make it easier to move past the loss of a material item. While your friends and family cannot be replaced, your possessions often can be.

Spending some time focusing on what truly matters to you may spur you to take action. You might call a loved one and invite them to dinner if you have not seen them in a while, or you might spend some time with your significant other and create fun new memories. Experiences may be more valuable to you than possessions, and you might find contentment in taking the time to enjoy things in life that money cannot buy.

Volunteer to help others

Spending time with those who may not have what they need may help you move past situations in which you don’t get what you want. Volunteering at a homeless shelter or a food pantry may help you gain a different perspective that helps you appreciate what really matters. For example, a newer, bigger house might not seem as important when you see others who may not have a home at all. It’s common to desire new things, but understanding how fortunate you are to have the necessities in life can be an eye-opening experience.

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Struggling with circumstances outside of your control?

Online therapy with BetterHelp

Do you still find it hard to put your unresolved desires in the past? Sometimes, when you've wanted something for a long time, it can be hard to let it go and move on. If you’re still experiencing disappointment, a mental health professional might be able to help you find new ways to manage those strong desires. 

BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that can connect you with a licensed therapist. With BetterHelp, you can participate in therapy from the comfort of your home, without having to go to an office or discuss your treatment plan with anyone but your therapist. You can connect with your therapist via audio or videoconferencing at a time that works for you.

The effectiveness of online therapy

Research shows that online therapy can be a powerful tool when addressing complicated feelings, such as a lack of fulfillment or dissatisfaction from not getting what you want. In a study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, researchers found that an online treatment program was effective for depression. Participants reported a decrease in symptoms related to depression and an increase in quality of life and self-esteem. The report specifically notes the ability of online therapy to bridge the treatment gap. Online therapy closes this gap in treatment by eliminating certain barriers, such as time and geographical constraints, perceived stigma, and financial burden.

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Takeaway

When something doesn’t go your way, it can be difficult to move on from the vision you had in your head of what life would look like if you had something you desired. It’s common to experience sadness, frustration, or even anger when you don’t get what you want, but there are several ways you can cope with these intense emotions. Sometimes, a mental health professional can help you address concerns that feel too big to move past on your own. If something is getting in the way of your happiness, consider working with an online therapist to overcome whatever is holding you back. Take the first step to overcoming disappointment and living a fulfilled life and reach out to BetterHelp today.
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