When a dream dies—when the thing you’ve wanted for so long is gone—there is a real sense of loss, disappointment, sadness, and heartache. It’s painful when you have a dream of a certain job, a certain role, or a certain home that will never be realized. And that pain is magnified when the dream involves a relationship.
Your dream of growing old with your spouse and sitting side by side in rocking chairs, holding hands, is dashed by indifference, death, or divorce. Your dream of a wonderful, warm, loving relationship with your child is shattered by a terrible argument, a bad mistake, or an all-consuming addiction. And it’s not like you can just plug in any dream in place of the old one. You don’t just substitute dreams. What you can do is learn how to dream again by taking these three steps.
It’s OK to feel bad, or even terrible, about your loss. It’s OK to let yourself patiently experience the full range of your emotions as they relate to your dream. Give yourself some time to work through the stages of your grief. But most importantly, don’t let yourself indulge in self-pity. The sooner you are in a place to accept your new situation, the sooner you’re ready to embrace a new dream.
When a dream dies, the question is not whether you and I will experience loss and pain. The question you need to ask yourself is, “What will I do with the pain?” Pain can be used for good. It forces us to pause and ponder what’s really important.
So, after you’ve gone through the grieving process, which may take months or even years, take some time to reflect upon and ponder what you’ve experienced. Maybe even keep a journal and write down your thoughts. As you reflect, think about what you’ve learned about other people and yourself. Are there things you need to change in your life or in yourself? Use this time to grow.
Your dream was a part of you. Now that it’s gone, liking another dream might feel a bit like cheating. But, if you spend all of your time focusing on what you’ve lost, you’ll never see what you can have. The last step to healing is to allow your heart and mind to embrace the next vision for your life—to grab hold of the next dream.
Give yourself permission to try new things, to experience new hopes. Embrace the challenges and grow in ways that are different from the old dream. Flex your dream muscles and find some new strength. The death of a dream doesn’t have to be the end of your hopes. It could be the beginning of an even better dream.
Have you lost a dream? Are you ready to dream again? Please share your experience.