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Coping with plans changing or getting cancelled

November 20, 2023
Louise Wills

You and a friend have made plans to go for dinner and you’re really looking forward to it. You’ve chosen your outfit and made a reservation, but then your friend rings you to let you know that something’s come up and they won’t be able to make it. Suddenly, your night goes from fun and exciting to disappointing and uncertain.

At some point or another, almost all of us will have experienced a situation like this, where plans that we were looking forward to get cancelled or rescheduled. It’s natural to feel disappointed when this happens but changing plans are an unavoidable part of life and the circumstances are often out of our control. What we can control is how we respond to the situation.

Some people struggle to cope when plans are changed. They may feel quite emotional or find it hard to let things go. If this is you, it can be helpful to ask yourself why. Does the lack of certainty make you feel out of control? Are you worried that people might not want to spend time with you? Are you craving human connection or feeling lonely? The more you understand about how you’re feeling, the easier you’ll find it to address the issue.

Moving on from disappointment

When your plans get cancelled, you’re bound to feel upset, however dwelling on disappointment can lead to sadness and depression. It’s important to shift your mindset and instead of ruminating on the situation, say to yourself: “I accept what happened and now I’m going to focus on where I go from here” or “I feel disappointed but I choose not to dwell on it”.

You could also reframe the experience by trying to find a positive. For example, changing plans can help you to build your resilience to change in the long-term. Or, perhaps you could use the time that’s been freed up to do something meaningful, like practising self-care or catching up with someone else.

Struggling with change and uncertainty

Life is unpredictable and other than our own actions, there’s very little that we’re actually able to control. Many of the events that affect our plans are out of our hands, so when our plans change, there’s often nothing we could have done to influence the outcome. Accepting this can help us to move past our frustration and disappointment.

Worrying what others think of you

When someone cancels plans with you, do you worry that it’s a reflection of how the other person feels about you? Perhaps you doubt how much they really like you or worry that you’ve done something to upset them without realising.

We all have an internal dialogue - and sometimes it can be self-critical. You may have negative thoughts about yourself, like that no one wants to be around you or you’re not a good person, however it’s important to realise that these are just thoughts, and thoughts are not always based on facts.

When you notice your inner critic coming out, try to show yourself compassion instead. Imagine you’re speaking to your best friend, or even yourself as a child - would you talk to them in this way? Practice replacing hostile thoughts with kind statements, like ‘I am trying my best’, ‘I am a kind person’ or ‘I am a good friend’. Read more about how to be a better friend to yourself and how to avoid overthinking.

Struggling with loneliness

Anyone can feel lonely. Even those who are naturally introverted need social interaction, and a lack of this can impact our mood, wellbeing, self-esteem and motivation.

When it comes to combating loneliness, the quality of our relationships is important. You might have a lot of people in your life, but if you don’t feel connected to any of them, you can still feel lonely. Perhaps you could work on strengthening a current relationship with a friend or family member. You could arrange to meet up and make it a regular thing. Alternatively, if you’re looking to meet new people you could join a club or find a place to volunteer.

If there isn’t anyone in your life you can reach out to or you struggle to put yourself out there, you could look into peer support. There are different services which are purposely set up to support people experiencing loneliness, both nationwide and locally. Here are a few that you could look into:

  • Age UK offers a befriender service for older people.
  • Befriending Networks has an online directory of UK befriending services.
  • MeetUp helps people find face-to-face groups of people with shared interests.
  • Reenage sets up social activities for people over the age of 75 without social support.

Read more about how to overcome feelings of loneliness.

ieso offers Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you challenge negative thought patterns and give you tools to stay in control of your mental health. Find out more about what we do on our website.

ieso Online Therapy
This blog has been written by a member of the clinical team at ieso.
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