Want to be Good to Yourself? Try Disappointing a Few People.
I’ve spent a big part of my life trying not to disappoint anyone. I’ve also spent a big part of my...
I’ve spent a big part of my life trying not to disappoint anyone. I’ve also spent a big part of my life not living up to my full potential, and not being really happy. During those years, I’ve had my share of disappointments. I’ve had hard times come my way, decisions gone bad, toxic people in my life, situations I wasn’t sure I would get out of in one piece. And looking back, there’s one thing that connects all of those experiences: me not being authentic, real, and honest with myself, in an effort to avoid disappointing others. And what I’ve learned since, is that if you want to be good with yourself, disappointing a few people is inevitable.
I’ve wrote in the past about how I’m a recovering people-pleaser, and how I’ve spent a big part of my time trying to live up to other people’s expectations of me – or at least the expectations I mirrored about the kind of person I though I needed to be in order to be loved. As a people-pleaser I was very sensitive to disappointing others, trying to avoid it at all costs, all the time. As a result, I was never truly myself. And because it started at such a young age, it silenced my needs and desires to a pretty scary degree.
When I started my journey of self-discovery in 2010, one of the biggest challenges I faced, was to listen to my desires and figure out what I really wanted. This may sound trivial, but for a people-pleaser like me, or anyone with low self-esteem, or low self-confidence, having lived from a place of trying to not disappoint anyone – ever, rather than a place of self-fulfillment and self-love, messes with your sense of self and intuitive knowing about your innermost dreams and cravings.
In my case, on the proverbial day that I woke up from this pretend life, I was shocked by how little I knew about who I was or why I did the things I did. It dawned on me that avoiding disappointing others had played a major role in alienating me from myself, and who I was really meant to be.
Because you see, there’s two sides to this story.
The more you try to avoid others from being disappointed by you, the more likely you’ll be disappointing yourself. You might not be conscious of it, or you might not realize the effects it has on you for a long time, but eventually – I promise you – trying to meticulously avoid others from being disappointed by you will leave you unhappy, unfulfilled, and disappointed in yourself. At least it was for me.
When I started my self-love journey, the biggest part of the work I did focused on trying to figure out what I really wanted, and what would really serve me, and make me happy. It’s only later, and in time, that I realized that I could not become who I really longed to be, without disappointing others along the way.
The mind is funny like that, I know.
For a while I thought I could keep up the people pleasing and be self-loving at the same time. Until one day, when being true to me, and loving me made me realize I was going to break some eggs doing it. Often. Repeatedly.
That’s when I knew I had to come to terms with it, if I ever wanted to be happy. And that’s why I want to encourage you today to look at disappointment not as something to avoid at all costs, but rather as something to embrace as part of your self-loving practice, and personal growth. I have come to learn that choosing you, and wanting to be good to yourself, and treating yourself well will often collide with what others want from you. And you know what? That’s perfectly OK.
We’re not put on this earth to satisfy the needs of others, or to put those needs before our own, or to feel guilty all the time, or not good enough. We’re here to fulfill our destiny, to become the best versions of ourselves, to find happiness and joy in this existence. And that’s impossible to do, if you’re not willing to accept a few unhappy faces along the way.
Here are a few things that helped me accept disappointment in my own life, and that might help you do the same in yours:
#1: Figure out what you really want – and be true to yourself!
When I realized I wasn’t being true to my own desires, a big question mark popped up. What did I really want? I understood that in order to be happy, I needed to figure out what mattered to me. To do that, I needed to analyze my behavior, and strip it from all the people-pleasing first. Whenever I would be asked something, whether it was to do something, go somewhere, or my opinion on a particular subject, I asked myself just one question: “What would I do, if I were the only only person in the world?”. From there, I started adjusting my behavior, and my responses.
#2: Learn to say no gracefully.
By asking myself the question above, it became clear to me that I needed to say “no” much more. But I had no clue how. Not only was I afraid to disappoint, but when it came to formulating a “no” response, I was terrible at it. Often, this caused even more disappointment. My advice is, if you’re going to say “no” – and I strongly encourage you to! – it’s wise to do so gracefully. It will ease the process, and make things easier for you and the person you’re saying “no” to.
#3: See disappointment as possibility, and learn from it.
The people who know me will tell you, I never shy away from learning something new. So when I started to embrace disappointment, and see it as a useful, and even natural part of living a fulfilling life, I also started to embrace all of its possibilities. The thing is, working your way through disappointing others, and accepting to be disappointed, can have many benefits.
It helped me to see things differently, to get to know myself better, to remember what really matters to me or why I do something, and it also pushed me into places well beyond my comfort zone.
But what about you? Are you afraid of disappointing others? And are you finding that you’re turning “no” into “yes” way too often for your own good? If so, perhaps it’s time to let go, and embrace those unhappy, frowning faces.
Let me know how you’re dealing with disappointment in the comments below, I’d love to know.
Featured Photo by Frederic Frognier – http://frdfro.co/
Hi, I’m Murielle. I created the online course Soulful Productivity™, a 6-week program to redefine productivity and help you get from overwhelm to flow, and I have a private coaching practice where I help ambitious, multi-passionate creatives and entrepreneurs start, grow & scale businesses, and create their freedom lifestyle. PS: I love Instagram. Let’s connect!