Our commentary highlights the importance of the present special issue on disengagement from goals. The various contributions focus on as vital topics as people vexed by goals being blocked, stuck between going on versus letting go, and drowning in ruminations. They clarify that person and contextual factors, framing strategies, and emotional make-up play a role in dealing with such hardships. Reviewing the contributions also indicated that research on the processes of disengagement is especially scarce. To start closing this gap, we argue that research on the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting, primarily used to specify the processes of active goal pursuit, can just as well be used to elucidate the processes of active disengagement. We present evidence about how mental contrasting promotes disengaging from desired futures and from missed-out pasts, and we highlight the non-conscious mechanisms that induce people to actively let go from unfeasible endeavors. We then address research on how people can disengage from upcoming inevitable endings. We conclude with applauding the courage of the editors to tackle goal disengagement, the black sheep of the psychology of motivation, and we discuss how fruitful further research on the topic will be for the individual and the society.
- Counterfactual thinking
- Inevitable endings
- Mental contrasting
- Processes of goal disengagement
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology