Get Over a Bad Birthday
If you are reading this, chances are that you just had a bad birthday. It seems especially unfair to have a bad day on your birthday because it is one of those special days where everything can be all about you. But because a birthday is anticipated to be so magical, it can often be a day full of disappointments that leads to post-celebration blues.
Part 1 of 4:Bouncing Back
1. Throw a brief pity party, and then move on
Throw a brief pity party, and then move on! Having a bad birthday is a huge letdown. Acknowledging that it was a bummer and mourning a little bit is important; if you pretend you’re not upset, it can lead to a prolonged bad mood. Eat some ice cream or have a good cry, but then move on! You have some fun to plan.
2. Throw yourself a post-birthday party
Throw yourself a post-birthday party. If your birthday didn’t go the way you wanted it to, take matters into your own hands and have a birthday redo. Pick a day coming up (be sure to give ample time for people to plan ahead) and treat yourself to a party. Some tips for a great post-birthday bash:
Invite as many or as little people as you feel comfortable; you control the guest list!
If you’re going out, pick a favorite restaurant you already love or, if you’re feeling adventurous, go to a new place you’ve been wanting to try.
If you’re staying in, buy or make food and decorations to highlight the birthday theme, or consider incorporating a nontraditional theme, like a favorite era or trend, to liven it up further.
Buy or make a cake to make it feel like a real birthday celebration!
3. Treat yourself to some additional birthday extras
Treat yourself to some additional birthday extras. There’s no rule that says you can only accept gifts on your birthday, so go out and treat yourself to some gifts! During your birthday redo, make sure to do things on that day (or week!) that you will enjoy. This won’t fix your bad birthday completely, but treating yourself can help ease the sting in the meantime.
Buy yourself a present you were hoping to get but did not.
Rent a favorite movie and order takeout from your favorite restaurant.
Invite some friends over or have a solo DIY spa day.
Part 2 of 4:Revealing Your Expectations
1. Reflect on your disappointment
Reflect on your disappointment. Take a moment to evaluate why you feel like you had a bad birthday: Did you want more attention from someone in particular? Was there an activity you were hoping to do but did not? Do birthdays always make you bummed? Understanding why you feel disappointed in particular will help you to address your bad mood.
2. Assess whether or not you were anticipating disappointment
Assess whether or not you were anticipating disappointment. For some people, birthdays are a time when we worry so much about the big day before it happens that we experience the disappointment as though it has already occurred. Leading up to your birthday, consider whether you were:
Focusing on what you were worried would not happen. If you were so worried about what gifts you would or wouldn’t get, or whether or not someone special would call on your birthday, you have worked yourself up so much before your birthday even started. This type of thinking causes so much anxiety about birthday expectations that having any fun is an uphill battle.
Looking forward to what could happen. Rather than worrying about what won’t happen, this type of thinking is much more hopeful about all of the upcoming possibilities. Instead of looking towards the future with anxiety about what might not happen, you were looking forward to your birthday with feelings of excitement and anticipation.
3. Consider what your expectations were
Consider what your expectations were. Birthday expectations, the anticipations for the day that often lead to a disappointing, bad birthday, typically fall into one of the following categories:
Expectations of the birthday celebrations themselves. Because many of us expect birthdays to be a big deal, a full day when you are showered with gifts and attention, when this level of hype is not met, the overall feeling for the day is that it was a big letdown. We focus so much on what the birthday should be that we don’t enjoy what it is.
Expectations of where and what our life should be. Birthdays come once a year and are a prime time to reflect on the past year and consider the future. For some, this means coming to terms with the inaccuracy of the timeline of goals we devise for ourselves. These expectations are often harder to deal with, and can definitely sour a birthday.
Part 3 of 4:Redirecting Your Thinking
1. Understand that disappointment comes from within
Understand that disappointment comes from within. Yes, a birthday is a special day, and yes, you deserve to feel warmth and love on your birthday. But nowhere is there a rule that says the entire world must revolve around you on that day. Disappointment is a feeling that is conjured internally, and thus realizing that you are creating your own misery is key to changing how you think about the day.
2. Pinpoint the exact cause behind your conjured disappointment
Pinpoint the exact cause behind your conjured disappointment. Because disappointment is a feeling that is created internally, isolating the exact emotion causing the disappointment can help you move past the bad mood.
Do you feel rejected? Especially since everything is posted on social media, even small rejections, like not many people writing “Happy birthday!” on your wall, can feel intensely hurtful. Try to remember that anyone reaching out in any manner is a wonderful gesture; it’s not a competition for the most postings or likes.
Are you worried about outstanding goals? If expectations of where your life should be are causing your bad mood, reflect on when and why you came up with that goal in the first place. Comparing yourself to others is never a good idea, and maybe the goals you made for yourself when you were younger no longer match what you really want for yourself now.
Are you brooding over one particular person not wishing you well on your birthday? Perhaps an ex or a crush didn’t reach out on your birthday, which can sting. Instead of thinking about the one person who didn’t call, think about those who did. Reread the cards or wall posts you received, and redirect your thinking.
3. Move past your disappointment
Move past your disappointment. Rehashing the negatives of the day will not change the situation or the people you feel neglected you on your birthday. Thinking about it will not change what happened, but it will make you feel worse. Instead, redirect your thoughts and focus on something positive. For example:
Think about all that you have accomplished in the past year and beyond. You might not be where you thought you’d be at this time, but you shouldn’t negate the goals you did accomplish. Take a minute to make a list of “wins” for the year!
Make a plan for what you would like to accomplish this year moving forward. Just remember to make your goals reasonable so that you don’t set yourself up for more disappointment next year.
Make a plan to really celebrate someone else’s birthday. If a friend or family members birthday is coming up, get over your disappointment by helping to ensure that they aren’t disappointed like you were on their special day. It will make you feel better, and it will make them feel loved.
4. Lower your expectations
Lower your expectations. Maybe as a child you had a week of birthday celebrations culminating in a huge party with a giant cake. That’s great, but it can profoundly affect what you expect for your current birthdays. Instead of expecting a big celebration, next year try not expecting anyone to do anything. This sounds negative, but this will actually mean that anything good that happens will be an unexpected surprise!
Part 4 of 4:Communicating More Effectively
1. Understand that you only have control over yourself
Understand that you only have control over yourself. You cannot make your friends and family celebrate your birthday, but you do have control over what the disappointment does to you. Don’t let it consume you, but don’t ignore it either. Acknowledge that you are disappointed, and then move on with your internal dialogue.
2. Let your friends and family know
Let your friends and family know. It is likely that your friends and family don’t realize that you feel you had a bad birthday. Perhaps this is because they feel like they celebrated your birthday appropriately and your expectations were just higher, or perhaps birthdays are not as big of a deal to them. Either way, consider one of these conversation starters:
“So I’m thinking I might schedule a massage since my birthday was last week.” This should let them know that you were hoping for some more treats on your birthday.
“Can you please help me organize a belated outing for my birthday?” There’s nothing wrong with asking for help; in fact, this will not only let them know that your expectations weren’t met, but will also ensure that the activities are exactly what you want to do!
“I know we went out to dinner for my birthday, but I kind of feel like going dancing too. What do you think?” This is a subtle, but non-passive-aggressive, way of indicating that you enjoyed the birthday activities thus far but were also hoping for a little more fun before the day is over.
3. Learn from it
Learn from it. Whether you consistently feel bummed about your birthday or this was the first year you had a bad birthday, learn from your experience and let that knowledge influence your entire year. Also try putting it into perspective: Is this birthday disappointment something that you will remember in 6 months? 3 months? Be thankful for all that you have! Happy Birthday!!