My Experience: Disappointing Others

authenticity disappointment people pleasing Jul 19, 2023

For most of my life, disappointing others has been one of my greatest fears.

 

It sounds ridiculous when there are so many other things to be afraid of, but here’s how so many of us people-pleasers subconsciously see it:

I let someone down

I am ousted by my loved ones and eventually community

I am lonely and fending for myself and my life is now at risk

 

It seems dramatic, but what the fear of disappointing others touches on is actually a fear of not belonging - and a sense of belonging is the third tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Between survival and self-actualization, humans need to feel like they can give and receive love. Innocent, beautiful, and also challenging.

 

A lot of what we do as people is motivated by how others will perceive and accept us. We are beckoned by status, praise, connection and intimacy. We alter a lot of our true selves with those things in mind.

 

You can see how authenticity can seem frictional in relationship to our relationships. What if they don’t like us? What if how we do things isn’t enough? What if we disappoint them?

 

I have jumped through a lot of loops and hoops in my life to avoid disappointing others. So much so that up until a few weeks ago, I think I could confidently say, “I seldom disappoint anybody.”

 

I rarely cancel plans or appointments.

I rarely tell people I’m at capacity.

I almost always pick up the calls and drop my personal plans for friends in need.

I bend over backwards quite a bit.

 

But lately, I’ve been spread pretty thin: I bought a house that needs fixing-upping, I started a new relationship, I am managing being long distance with a lot of people I love, while trying to build community in a new place, I am working on a long-haul creative project, I’m trying to lose the 15 pounds I gained wildin’ out this year, I’m trying to get my sleep and client schedule regular between my jumping back and forth between timezones, and continuing with my intention to “decentralize” romantic love (aka make my friends just as much or close to as much of a priority).

 

This blog could really be about priorities (more tips I had to learn the hard way on that another time), but to jump to the part where I figured that out, I realized I was going to have to disappoint a lot of people to feel balanced and oriented again.

 

I would have to have less or shorter phone calls with my love. I would have to ask my family to be patient with me. I had to have a hard talk with a few friends where they confronted my absence, chaotic tendencies and flightiness as of late.

 

Those calls hurt. They threw me for a loop, into a tizzy. I actually broke out in a few small hives. I was disappointing others. I am disappointing others (actively). I take their words to heart and see where I’ve faltered, could’ve communicated better in hindsight, and the personal work I need to do, but ultimately, the truth is, I can’t undo the disappointment that’s been done nor - with my current priorities - can I meet their full needs.

 

Right now, I am experiencing my greatest fear.

 

As a result, right now, I am growing.

 

After I soothed my hives, meditated three times, cried, called my mom, my coach and went on a long walk I finally settled into a very small, slightly sadistic sense of excitement, I remembered my favorite Glennon Doyle quote:

 

“Your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself.”

 

Bro, I am doing bold enough things to be disappointing others.

 

I am disappointing others!!!!!!

 

And it’s okay. And it’s all gonna be okay.

 

 

Need help with this concept? Let me save you from the shallow breaths and stress headaches. Let’s chat 1:1 and help you start prioritizing yourself.

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