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

Updated January 11, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Losing or failing to get something you want can be a painful and frustrating experience. Since life has constant ups and downs that are hard to predict, and because it can be easy to build up expectations for how things should be, disappointment can be an inevitable part of being human. You may be struggling not to care after experiencing disappointment, which is natural. 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.

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, 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 that item, activity, or person. 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. Try to aim for practical goals rather than those that are unlikely to be fulfilled.

Remember that 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 in the past may keep you mentally stronger and healthier. 

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.


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.

Spend Time With Friends

Spending time with friends can 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 entertain and be there for you. At the 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, this may make it easier to move past the loss of a material item. While your friends and families 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 your parents and invite them to dinner if you have not seen them in a while or 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 the finer things in life that money cannot buy.

Volunteer To Help Others

Spending time with those who may not even 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 can help you gain a different perspective that helps you appreciate what really matters. For example, a fancy new house might not seem as important when you see others who may not have a home at all. It’s natural to desire new things but understanding how fortunate you are to have the necessities in life can be an eye-opening experience. Helping out your fellow man can change your attitude, but it can also be a fulfilling experience.

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 very long time, it can be hard to let it go and move on. If you’re still struggling, a 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. Plus, you’ll have the option of remaining completely unknown—simply select a “nickname” when you register, if you prefer. The mental health professionals at BetterHelp can support you in moving forward when times are difficult, and things don’t go your way. 

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 online therapy was effective when treating participants experiencing 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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The 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 things would look like. It’s natural 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 professional can help you address issues that feel too big to move past on your own. If something is getting in the way of your happiness and contentment, consider working with an online therapist to overcome whatever is holding you back.

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