Have you ever wanted something so badly, with every fiber of your being?
And then not gotten it.
“It’s not fair.”
“I’m never going to get what I want.”
Disappointment. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Despair.
When you don’t get what you want, you have two choices:
1. Resist reality. Get upset. Be disappointed. Throw a tantrum.
2. Accept reality. Have faith and trust that something even better is coming your way. Surrender.
When my daughter Eva was four years old, we visited our family in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. Playing outside one afternoon, Eva’s cousin found this neat looking prickly seed ball and both girls had a blast playing with it.
When it was time to leave, Eva really wanted that prickly seed ball.
She wanted it bad. Real bad. But her cousin did too, and her cousin had found it.
So we told Eva she couldn’t have it. And she threw a huge fit.
It was a tantrum of epic proportions.
She got so upset that she was hiccup crying and screaming at top volume in our tiny rental car as we drove away.
Stranded on the side of the road.
My husband ended up leaving me and Eva by the side of the road near where we were staying so he could go put our son down for a nap. After ten or fifteen minutes, Eva calmed down and we decided to explore this new cul-de-sac we found ourselves in.
Walking down a slight hill, we noticed one of those very same prickly seed balls. And then another. And another. And another.
We had stumbled upon a veritable cornucopia of prickly seed balls.
Eva ran amidst them shouting with joy, collecting a dozen with ease.
From disappointment to ecstatic fulfillment with the flip of a switch.
As we were walking home with our arms full of prickly seed balls, I asked Eva if she realized the lesson the Universe had just taught her.
When you don’t get what you want, there may be something even better in store for you.
We made up a song about it and skipped home singing; “when you don’t get what you want…it’s cuz the Universe has something bet-ter!”
This lesson keeps coming until we get it.
Many years ago, when I offered my very first high-end group coaching program and retreat, I had two women signed up for it (a lot less than I was hoping for). The week before the retreat, one of the women had to cancel due to a death in the family.
I was sad for her, and also incredibly disappointed that I would have to cancel the retreat. I hadn’t told either woman that only two women had signed up, because I was embarrassed and hoping more would join.
I felt like a failure.
As I was crying to my sister about it, she said; “Vanessa, you sound as though this retreat is never going to happen. Can’t you just postpone it?”
She was right. And yet, I did feel like it was never going to happen for me. I was so disappointed and devastated.
I ended up postponing the retreat for several months, and in that time, a third woman joined the group!
My “failure” ended up being a blessing in disguise.
This is often the case.
What we initially perceive as “not getting what we want” turns out to be a gift.
Last year, my favorite professor from Stanford came to an impasse with the Dean’s office and decided to retire rather than stay on in a suboptimal arrangement. Initially, she was incredibly upset and disappointed.
It was not how she expected her career to go.
Recently, we were catching up on the phone and she said; “Vanessa, something you said during that time really stuck with me as a great nugget of wisdom. You told me this might be the best thing that ever happened to my career. And you were right.”
She didn’t realize until she left Stanford that she could have an even greater impact on the world outside the academic environment.
Now she’s expanding her work in ways she never imagined and she’s happier than ever!
But first she had to get through that moment of disappointment and frustration when she wasn’t dealt the cards she anticipated.
[bctt tweet=”If you get dealt a bad hand, it may be because you’re meant to play a different game.”]
Sometimes, we’re handed a tragedy or a big disappointment in life. It feels like nothing’s going our way.
And yet, this tragedy has a deeper purpose for us.
It’s meant to shift us, to help us change and grow and learn and possibly move in a different direction.
So today I ask you; what’s not going your way?
And….more importantly….what’s the gift, blessing or opportunity inside your disappointment?
If you were to imagine that the Universe is not giving you what you want only because it has something even better in store for you…what might that even better thing be?
Tantrum or Surrender. Which feels better?
If you don’t get what you want, you can throw a tantrum or you can surrender. The choice is yours.
Sometimes it’s important to grieve and throw a tantrum…and then surrender.
Often, it’s totally appropriate to throw a tantrum and allow ourselves to experience the grief associated with not getting what we want. I’m not suggesting you quickly gloss over those feelings of frustration or sadness.
Grieving is important work.
Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel the negative emotions of not getting what you want, then surrender and trust that something better is in store for you. Don’t bypass the tantrum if it wants to be expressed. But if you find yourself wallowing in it and not moving past the “this is not want I want” phase, it may be time to shift into; “Hmmm, how can I trust that I’m not getting what I want because I’m going to get something even better? What might that even better thing be?”
I hope you find your even better, and that it’s even better than you imagined!
P.S. If you want support navigating transition and finding your “even better,” apply to my upcoming CWYL 3 Month Career Program HERE.
[…] (Read my blog on “What to do when you don’t get what you want” HERE) […]
Vanessa, I read this blog first thing Tuesday morning and it felt like it was fate. Somebody up there wanted me to read your blog. While my story isn’t as traumatic as the stories above, it’s important to me. I’ve been hoping for a promotion at work. I like what I do, the pay is good and I’m hopeful management will acknowledge my work. Deep down I know they won’t if they haven’t by now. That brings me to this blog. I don’t consider my dilemma a tragedy, just a disappointment that I’ll somehow work through. I’m confidant that the universe will give me what I need, rather than what I want and it will be even better than I imagined. You gave me hope in your blog and so too did the others who’ve responded here. You should know Vanessa, that when you write from your heart, it will touch people and that’s what you’ve done. Thank you.
aww, so happy to hear you read the blog at just the right time Janice! Divine timing 🙂 And whatever difficulty you’re going through is important, so thank you for sharing yours. I’m glad the blog gave you hope, your response touched my heart.
If you’re not feeling acknowledged for your work…you can also give yourself that acknowledgement you deeply desire (I do this all the time by creating “appreciation jars” for myself where I write nice things on notecards and choose one at random each morning) and/or find a new job!! 😉
I’m 43 years old and since I’ve known myself my greatest desire is to have my own family. This hasn’t happen and I feel like I’m failing big at this life that, as far as I know, it’s the only one I have and it’s passing by fast. I see other people moving forward, marrying, having children, finding companionship and I feel more and more lonely and each day, having more trouble in believing that this can still happen for me. I love my moments with myself, my house, I read, I travel, I write and hike, I go to lot’s of places, work, study, I always thought of myself as an interesting woman and kind person, but I have been feeling very angry lately because it seems that I’m never enough. This affects my energy, my relationship with others, I keep trying and people tell me that maybe I’m trying to hard but I don’t seem to know better. I’m having so much trouble with focusing and breathing, meditation seems helpless lately and I feel overwhelmed with everything.
Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability Anna. If you’d like additional support working through your anger and feeling that you’re never enough, I highly recommend Alex Merrin for 1:1 coaching. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sending you lots of LOVE!!
thank you Vanessa, for your love and positive energy.
Thank you Anna!
Thank you V….so appreciate your generous support of my work. And, congratulations all your creative endeavors…love your open invitation to life. big loves.
My pleasure Alex! you changed my life, and I’m so happy to spread the LOVE. 🙂
A month ago, my husband announced that he wanted to work on “he” and not “we”. We have been together since 1994 and married in 2002. In 1999, he announced that he no longer wanted to be in the relationship and walked away. After 16 years of marriage and 2 wonderful children, my world is again being flipped on its axis. Feeling empty and blaming me for everything, he told me that he was moving out to work on himself. In that moment, I knew I had 2 choices- accept his decision or crumble. Unlike the first time, I knew this mid-life crisis had nothing to do with me. This was his journey. Letting go and ensuring my share of voice in this relationship, only controlling what I could, were paramount to my success with this adversity. No matter how much I wanted to fight and let him know that we could work this out, I knew that letting him take this journey by himself is what he needed.
My husband is now in therapy and committed to working on himself first and then the marriage. Although this is a painful period for all of us, I know that acceptance will lead to a much happier and fulfilling life during the second half of our lives. Knowing that greater things are to come has allowed me to not internalize the pain and blame inflicted upon me by an extremely confused and empty man. Onwards and upwards for all of us,
Thank you so much for your guidance, Vanessa!
Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability Debbie. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through, and I really admire your attitude and knowing that acceptance will lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. Onwards and upwards – YES!
This blog really struck me this morning. I recently made a very tough decision for myself. I am a bodybuilding competitor. Currently I am qualified at a National level. I have been feeling a lot of pressure lately, as that is a big step. And I just have not been feeling physically (or mentally) ready. It takes a very long time for a natural female athlete to gain any muscle. And to have to be ready for a National stage in a matter of months, well, it was really stressing me out. I love this sport. I should not feel so stressed and worried about it. I have been depressed, slumping around, and maybe even throwing little tantrums myself. Haha. So, just this past weekend, I decided to call it off. Not forever, though! My qualification stands for 2 years. Nationals will be there in 2019. This gives me a year and a half to build up my physique and get more stage ready! Something better will come of this. I have read so many stories of other competitors making similar decisions to take a longer off season. And they never seem to regret it! I may still to do a small local show just to keep myself motivated. But, otherwise, I now really look forward to the something better that could be waiting for me at Nationals next year! Thank you for this Vanessa. It was a great read and great to hear from a pro such as yourself. Namaste 🙂
aww, thank you Alicia. And how wonderful that you’re giving yourself the space you need. Just delaying, not forever, and who knows what other surprising gifts you’ll receive in this space in between. More to unfold for you for SURE!
This is truly inspiring and a great lesson on faith! Also how our expectations, which are even though smaller than the universe wants us to have, can get the best of us. Thanks as always for your amazing work! Blessings, Lynn
Thank you Lynn!
After being in a twenty year marriage that I thought was perfect, and having two kids with this man, I found out that he had been cheating on me for many years. I was devastated to say the least! Yes I had a meltdown. I thought my world was over. If it wasn’t for my kids, who I knew I had to be strong for, I don’t know how I would have survived, but for their sake I had to get up everyday and function. Anyways fast forward to two years later, I have met a man that is so lovely, that I now question my first marriage. The deep level of communication and bonding that I am experiencing now, was not there the first time around. Now looking back on my earlier relationship, I realize I was trying to make it perfect, but actually often felt unheard and unrespected. So now I can feel that my ex actually did me a favour, albeit in a crappy way, but if he wouldn’t have freed me to move on, being a big advocate of marriage, I never would have walked away from the relationship.
So beautiful Della! And I KNOW you’re giving hope to so many other women (and men!) out there going through a divorce or separation…showing that sometimes a relationship ends and it’s incredibly painful, but it also opens space for an even better relationship to come in. YAY!!!
My even better moment is when I moved from N.Y. to Atlanta to be with my daughters Dad only to find out that he was living with another woman. I was so devastated, can you just imagine, I left my job and my family back in N.Y. in hopes of a better life and start a family only to find that out and didn’t have anyone in ATLANTA.
However, the beauty came when I moved back to N.Y. in September and stayed and looked after my Mom whom died in November. Looking back i know that God made my situation uncomfortable in order for me and my daughter to come back home and spend time with my mom before her passing. God is great!
aww, what a beautiful story of redemption that starts off so sad and ends in such a touching way. Thank you for sharing Kimberly. And what a wonderful gift you received to spend time with your mom before her passing.