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How to deal when you don’t get what you want.


Sometimes you ask for what you want and you get it and it’s awesome.

And sometimes you don’t.

The cutie you were ogling from across the bar asks your friend for her number instead of yours.

You launch your new product that’s been in the works for over a year, and you hear crickets instead of cha-ching.

Your husband forgets your anniversary.

Your dream client passes up your bid and hires someone else.


When things don’t go the way you wish they’d gone, I recommend the following:

  1. Be in it.
    Skipping over feeling how bad it feels only leads to emotional festering. {Tweet it} A good cry, a scream into a pillow, a tirade of choice words, or a few whales on a punching bag go a very long way. Give yourself permission to feel the disappointment. Trying to pretend you don’t feel the way you feel or trying to move past it too quickly isn’t kind to yourself, and it’s dishonest.

  1. Tell someone.
    I used to keep my disappointments to myself because I didn’t want to burden people or appear like I didn’t have it together. I found out that letting people in on my broken hearted moments created connection rather than separation. If your disappointment brings up feelings of shame it’s even more important to tell someone safe. As Brené Brown says, shame cannot survive empathy. Shame depends on us feeling alone, so the quicker we bring it into the light and remember we’re not alone, the quicker it dissolves.
  1. Follow your disappointment.
    We’ve all heard that we should follow our bliss. But I think there’s a lot to be said for following our disappointment. When we’re bummed that something didn’t work out, it means it matters to us. I’ve had times when I was surprised by how upset I got over a disappointment. It pointed out that whatever that thing represented was really important to me. Then I knew to make a priority of manifesting that thing in some other way. Similarly, you might notice that you didn’t get as disappointed as you thought you might over something.  Good news! You can take that thing off your priority list because it probably doesn’t matter to you as much as you thought!
  1. Say thanks.
    I don’t think that every single thing happens for a reason, but most things do. You don’t get asked out by the cutie at the bar because the next day you meet your husband. You get passed over by who you thought was your dream client because they would have been a royal pain in the ass to work with. I find it peaceful to believe that there’s a greater plan at work even if I’m generally not aware of it on a day-to-day basis. When something doesn’t happen the way I wanted, I decide that I’ve been spared some experience that wouldn’t serve my highest purpose. And so, after crying and thrashing, sharing it with someone, and noticing how important this thing must be to me, I say thank you.
  1. Move on.
    There’s nothing attractive about bitterness. No need to rush yourself, but when it’s time to move on, move on. Dwelling on disappointment is a dream repellant. {Tweet it.} Once you’ve felt what you need to feel and learned what you need to learn, get on with attracting what you want.

Life is thrilling. Life is surprising. Life is disappointing. Life is unexpected. Life is satisfying. It’s all true.

Don’t let your disappointments derail you.

Instead, let them be a tool to get you closer to what you want.


How do you deal with disappointment? Share your tips in the comments – I’d love to hear them as I’m always adding to my toolbox!


  • Mary

    I see a lot of your mom in your face. Thank you for your tips. I am in a very sad, unhappy disappointed place. I am 75 and have been through a lot and always moved forward. I feel overwhelmed and have been purging photos and things that I no longer want. I could go on and on but I won’t.

    Thank you.

  • Sudasi

    Ok to flow with sharing disappointments,and then you look at it and it changes . What you get instead is what the universe wants, how interesting! Because little me is always having her mind blown open ….. The bigger picture has another agenda and each rock of resistan ce to a n Iintention is a new directive what a mystery it all is. Who or what is writing this amazing world script?

  • This is a timely post: I was rejected by a fancy, popular yoga clothing company. They contacted me, sought me out and I showed up for the interview. I thought it went great; in fact the girl had tears in her eyes when she met with me. But then they didn’t chose me. I am not young and svelte enough i suppose. And right now the morning news show is covering that same yoga clothing store and interviewing the same girl who did not choose me. It’s hard to feel rejected and not good enough. But I like what you said, that this situation holds some meaning for me.
    These are a few things I do to quiet my fears and envy:
    I remember the situations where I am welcomed and loved.
    I remember my expertise may not always be popular but it is valuable.
    I feel genuinely happy for those who have what I want.
    And I remember timing is interesting; if I am patient I will be shown at some point the connection with me and this company, or this one girl who interviewed me. I have to let go and trust the timing of things.
    And then I ask for grace.
    I am so glad I’m receiving your emails! Thank you!

    • Kate Northrup

      I like the tip about feeling genuinely happy for those who have what you want. That’s a sure way to attract good stuff to you!

  • I love getting your emails :) and I’ve never commented before. I tackle disappointment with a pen, paper and FasterEFT. I write down what I am disappointed in (giving it a name, like “flat tire”)and how strong I feel it from 1-10 (10 being the strongest). Next I ask myself “when was the first time I remember feeling this way? What does it remind me of?” and I write that down too, giving it a name (like “stole my lunch money”). This helps me find the unconscious pattern matching that is creating my response in the present disappointment. I write down how strong that is too (1-10). Then! I start tapping ( and keep on tapping using the FasterEFT style until it no longer feels true, until I can smile at how I felt and the whole situation feels, looks and sounds different in my mind. And it works for everything (if I do it!). Sometimes it takes me about 45 minutes, sometimes I’m done so fast I wonder why I was bothered in the first place. Sometimes I need another practitioner to help me out. I am so grateful I have this tool.

    • Kate Northrup

      This is awesome Nicola! Thank you for your first comment – it’s super valuable. I love this!

  • Getting over rejections and not getting what you want at the time you want is true to the saying “the timing is not right, and there is something better ahead”.
    I always remember that and believe that everything happens for a good reason, and it always turns out to be true. I believe we are meant to be wherever and with whoever at that moment in time.
    I go for a walk, play in my garden, read a good book and always think of what I have and be grateful.
    Thank you so much for your encouragement.

  • Brenda Reynolds

    The disappointment comes in wave after wave for me. I just finished my long crying session and wanting to bunch a hole in the sky, yet now I breathe in and out and give thanks. I have wanted to be a veterinarian since elementary school, but due to a large graduate school debt and insufficient funds, I am unable to attend. Tonight I went to my church’s prayer meeting to ask for prayer that I do not lose hope in this (what seems like) soul chattering disappointment. They were so very generous with listening to my sadness and then praying for me. What came of it is to trust God, even when it seems like my life’s dreams have been cut up like confetti. He is more wonderful and full of goodness that I can now comprehend. And so, I will read The Word and learn what it really means to trust Him. Thank you for writing this blog post. I especially paused with the recommendation to “Follow your Disappoint.” I will remember this. Grateful.

  • Anna

    Thank you for your post about disappointment. Today I am disappointed. I have just come back from a legal meeting which explained a contract I signed many years ago put me in enormous debt. I didn’t know at the time what I was signing and am very disappointed with the people involved. As a consequence I have to sell my home. I am dealing with my disappointment in a few ways. Crying from time to time, taking flower essences, and talking to people about what I need next. I am disappointed with myself and that is the worst kind of disappointment as there is self judegment. So I will try to accept myself and all the mistakes I have made. Thank you for being a forum where I could express my ideas as they are, raw, today. Thanks Kate!

  • I agree with all you said except tell someone. I feel that people don’t want to hear other’s problems and same with me. It’s like using people when I unload on them. Better left unsaid is my mantra and I’m usually glad I did. Ps I love all your posts and have learned so much Kate.?



    Wonderful post Kate! So inspiring as always :)

  • Papri Pal

    I am sad for the last 3 days kate, it’s so hard to accept that your son who performed so well in a school interview to get admission into KG but get rejected in a lottery. I and my husband wanted our son to get admission into that school. For this, we cut down the extra costs to save money for his admission. I am from India and I am a working mom. My work and daily travel to work take 11 hours so I want a part-time job so That I can give more time to my son. I always search for such a job After the 1-time failure I cracked a written exam in all India radio contractual announcer post. I was selected for the voice test. After giving the voice audition I dreamed about the selection but got the rejection at the same day the school authority informed us about my son’s rejection in the lottery system. I am feeling so upset that I can’t be able to work normally.
    I teach our 4 years son a moral:
    “we shouldn’t be sad when we don’t get what we want”!
    But when it comes to follow this line why I am not able to do so…

    But one thing: I will not lose my hope and will try again and again.

  • sara

    Life sucks when you dont get what you want especially when it really matters to you.. Whats the point of asking or going for what you want only to be disappointed.

  • Rita Duque

    Thanks! I needed to “hear” this. Having a teenage daughter and listening to her emotional roller coaster of disappointments has dredged up a lot of my past ones. Didn’t think that would happen but here I am. I’m feeling really sad, childish and ashamed for having these feelings. Obviously something I didn’t deal with in the past has come back to rear its’ ugly head and has 10x the strength. I must be more mentally stable to handle it now, right? Yep, that’s what I’m going with! Wish me luck and thanks for “listening” and sharing your words. Reetah Duke

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