When Our Dreams and Reality Don't Match

I am a firm believer in following our dreams.  It was the essence of my quote in my senior year high school yearbook 31 years ago and I am still passionate about helping people achieve their dreams.  Sometimes, our dreams get dashed.  What do you do when you believe in something with deep conviction and passion but it doesn’t happen?
It’s time for some processing.  First, take time to grieve the loss of the dream.  It’s important to acknowledge reality and give reality its space.  Feel the sadness associated with the loss.  Notice what it feels like in your body.  Set aside some time every week where you can feel the hurt, pain and sadness of the loss.  Keep track of your thoughts.  Harness them so they stay true to reality.  Sometimes our minds can wander off into story creation world.  These might sound like, “I’ll never have anything in my life that makes me happy.”  “I’ll never find my passion.” “I’ll never be successful at anything.”  “I’ll never find my life partner.”  You know these thoughts, huh?  Most of us have them when we are hurting.  Unless you have 100% accuracy with predicting the future you cannot possibly know what is going to happen in your life.  Put a stop to the thought.  Don’t entertain it.  Every time the story pops into your head shut it down.
Ask yourself where you have some control in the situation.  If it’s a loss that you don’t have control over (a job, a relationship, a life) look at the areas where you do have control.  You can look for other employment.  You can get training to pursue a better fit.  You can, when you’re ready, get back out in the dating world.  You can cultivate the relationships you have with those who are alive.  You make choices of how to take care of yourself in healthy ways despite the loss.
Remember that you have some control.  You are not a victim of your circumstances.  You can decide your next steps.  Allow time to process the loss and get back in the game.  It might be an entirely new game.  That is simply a part of living in an ever changing world and our need to yield to reality.