The fear of disappointing people

In this last week I have had four conversations with different people about disappointing other people. It appears to be a very significant issue that many people are facing. Letting people down. Hurting others. Disappointing people. These things can often leave us feeling like we are a disappointment, and the reality is, we all disappoint people in our journeys of life. When this becomes a fear, it will begin to dictate your life, your choices and even your behaviour. It can leave you feeling pretty crappy and stop you making healthy choices about your future. 

4 tips to overcome the fear of disappointing people.

1/ understand expectations: invalid expectations are one of the things that will produce high levels disappointment, frustration and anger. In fact, what I have found is that over 85% of expectations are invalid. This is because most expectations are not communicated, clarified, achievable or agreed upon. These are the four keys to valid expectations and are just as relevant to expectations we have of others as they are to expectations we have of ourselves. Ensure that your expectations of yourself and others, and their expectations of you, are valid. Communicate, clarify and agree.

2/ deal with perfectionism: we are often crippled by our idea and desire for perfectionism, which is a glorified versions of self sabotage. Perfection is an unrealistic ideal that can stop you from enjoying life’s experiences. We often connect this with the joy sucking habit of comparing ourselves with others. Learning to be happy with who you are and what you contribute to others is critical in your journey. It is also connected to our idea of failure and the need to prove ourselves. There is no such thing as failure, just feedback for growth. Perspective is critical here friends. Effort is more important that result. Passion is more critical that perfect. Integrity is more important that achievement. This doesn’t mean that we accept and settle for mediocrity, and not believe for excellence. Excellence isn’t perfectionism.

3/ learn to say no: saying no often means we disappoint people, and we need to become comfortable with saying no. When we understand that saying no is actually really healthy, regardless of what other may think, it’s very freeing. The reason we struggle to say no is because we believe a no will mean people won’t like us, appreciate us or value us anymore. The reality is, we need to make decisions based more on our own values and belief in ourselves. People respect that, honor that and value that. We don’t have to make excuses for our choices when they are aligned to who we are and the values we hold.

4/ it’s not about you anyway: ultimately when people are disappointed in you, it’s usually more about them that is about you. It is a reflection of their insecurities, invalid expectations and uninformed deductions. Be confident in who you are the decisions and choices you make, and realize that you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.

Disappointing people is certainly part of life, and when the fear of this controls your choices, you are choosing to live in effect of what others think, instead of living at cause and creating the outcomes you desire. The fear of disappointing others is real, but it doesn’t need to be controlling your life. Let yourself be free from it by facing it head on, and loving who you are and the choices you make.

Trust this is a helpful step forward and if this fear is controlling you and you want to be free, get in touch at

Cheers, Brett

Published by Bretta

I am passionate about seeing people empowered, stretched and grown in all aspects of life. To help people SHiFT the way people think and bring transformation to their world. You can expect a professional, non-judgemental, confidential and safe journey of self discovery and development. A journey of challenge, courage and transformation that will bring effective change, increased performance and most importantly … a better you.

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