NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

5 Tips For Letting Go of How You Thought Things Would Be

If there's one thing that's clear during this global pandemic, it's that things don't always go as planned  and when you're faced with a crisis, you need to find ways to cope (see my articles: Coping and Staying Calm During the COVID-19 Crisis and Fear and Anxiety During a Crisis).

Letting Go of How You Thought Things Would Be

By the time you become an adult, you've had experiences, both big and small, of being surprised and disappointed when you thought things would go a certain way and they didn't.

Whether these surprises and disappointments were due to people in your life not keeping their commitments or sudden changes in plans or events, you've had to deal with things changing in a way that you didn't want or expect.

Learning to Let Go: 5 Tips on Letting Go of How You Thought Things Would Be:
When it's obvious that there's nothing you can do to change these circumstances, it becomes a matter of learning to let go of your expectations.

When it's a big disappointment, letting go can be a long process.  It doesn't happen overnight because losses, especially big losses, are challenging.  You need to allow yourself to go through the grief and sadness and whatever fear and anxiety it might bring up for you.

5 Helpful Tips For Letting Go
  • Allow Yourself to Go Through the 5 Stages of Grief (see my article:  The 5 Stages of Grief).
      • Denial
      • Anger
      • Bargaining
      • Despair or Depression
      • Acceptance
    • This process isn't linear and you don't necessarily go from one stage directly to another. You can experience these stages in any order and go back and forth between stages.
    • Certain events or memories can also bring you back to the stages of grief, such as an anniversary of the death of a close relative or a birthday.  
    • Be kind and patient with yourself (see my article: Self Compassion: Loving Yourself Even in the Places Where You Feel Broken).
  • Acknowledge the Loss and, When You're Ready, Practice Gratitude
    • Rather than sweeping your feelings under the rug, acknowledge that your disappointment is a loss.
    • When you're ready, try to remember positive things in other areas of your life where you feel grateful.  You might not be ready to see or acknowledge these things while you're dealing with a big loss.  But, eventually, it might get easier for you to look at them without denying the feelings for your loss (see my article: Keeping a Gratitude Journal).
  • Ask Yourself If Your Expectations Are Realistic
    • While it's true that you might not always know what's realistic and what's not, there might be times when you have expectations of someone who disappointed you multiple times in the past, and you keep hoping and expecting this person will fulfill your expectations each time.
    • Recognize the difference between hope and expectations. You might hope you won't be disappointed again by someone who disappointed you repeatedly in the past, but you're not accepting the reality of your situation. You're setting yourself up.
    • Having expectations of someone who is either unwilling or unable to meet them is a guarantee for disappointment and hurt.
  • Remember Other Times When Things Changed For the Better
    • When you first experience a disappointment, you don't always see the silver lining.  Sometimes, it takes time to look back on a situation and see that even though you didn't get what you wanted, eventually things turned out better.
      • For example, maybe you lost a job in the past, but then you decided to pivot and go for the career that you really wanted instead of settling for the job you had.
  • Set Boundaries With People Who Constantly Disappoint You
    • Rather than trying to control or manipulate someone into doing what you want, learn to accept that you won't get what you want from this person and set boundaries with them.
    • Setting boundaries will mean different things in different situations (see my article: Setting Boundaries).
Getting Help in Therapy
There are times when, despite your best efforts, you have problems letting go of your expectations.  This might be because the current situation is related to experiences from your past (see my article: Reacting to the Present Based on Your Traumatic Experiences From the Past).

If you're having problems letting go, you could benefit from working with a licensed therapist who has experience helping clients overcome this problem.

Many therapists, including me, are providing online therapy, also known as teletherapy, telemental health and telehealth, while they're out of the office due to the COVID-19 crisis (see my article:  The Advantages of Online Therapy When You Can't See Your Therapist in Person).

Contacting a therapist for help is often the first step to freeing yourself from obstacles that are keeping you stuck.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

I am currently providing online therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.