Conquer the fear of disappointing others

Conquer Your Fear of Disappointing Others (Even if it’s Haunted You for Years)

Are you a badass woman?

Of course you are!

Just because you’re a tough cookie, though, doesn’t mean you don’t struggle with issues.

No one’s 100% brave, bold, and perfect in every way 100% of the time (in spite of what they portray on Facebook). Am I right?

Sometimes, we have to trudge through some crap and clear up a little internal muck before we can truly stand strong and let our inner light shine for all to see.

One crippling fear that we absolutely must conquer on our path to greatness and personal freedom is the all-too-common fear of disappointing others.

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How Do You Know?

How do you know if you’re afflicted with this soul-sucking, disabling fear?

Well, it usually looks something like this:

  • Whenever you’re around people, you hold back or keep your mouth shut altogether because feel like you might say or do something “wrong” or “make somebody mad”.
  • You’re afraid of looking stupid or foolish, so you act the way you think someone else wants you to act.
  • In your close relationships, you won’t honestly express your true desires for fear of sounding silly or needy.

Most good-hearted people don’t like to disappoint others, of course, but for others, it goes much deeper than that.

The fear of disappointing others can be so pervasive and constant that anytime they need to interact with others, they experience physical symptoms of anxiety and fear. Maybe they get headaches, their palms get sweaty, or their stomach starts churning.

im afraid of disappointing other people

They’ve limited themselves so much by their desire to not displease others that they don’t even know who they truly are anymore.

The needs, moods, and whims of others have taken precedence for so long that they are not even able to identify what they honestly feel inside or what they genuinely desire.

It gets worse:

Possibly the worst part of navigating the world with this onus hanging around your head is the utter sense of despair, powerlessness, and lack of self-esteem that comes with it.

Take a Quiz to See How It Affects You

Let me tell you something, though…

There’s bad news and there’s good news.

I prefer to get bad news out of the way first, so…

Here’s the caveat:

Being stuck is a position few of us like. We want something new but cannot let go of the old – old ideas, beliefs, habits, even thoughts. We are out of contact with our own genius. Sometimes, we know we are stuck; sometimes we don’t. In both cases, we have to DO something.

Rush Limbaugh

The fear of disappointing others usually originates way back in our early childhood years. Back then, we used it to cope in a time and a place where it was necessary to please those who were bigger, stronger, and more powerful than us.

But while it was useful then, it’s harmful now.

Usually, the fear of disappointing others has become so ingrained that we may not even realize all the ways we limit ourselves as a result.

The saddest part is when we don’t feel like we are even capable of demolishing it and banishing it from our lives forever. It has become an integral part of “who we are”.

Therefore, the bad news is that, since we’ve been letting it dictate our actions and reactions automatically and subconsciously for so long, it takes dedicated, persistent, and sometimes arduous work to expose it and tear it out by the roots.

There’s Great News…

Now that we understand the obstacles, we can focus on the GREAT news, though:

You most certainly CAN completely eradicate the fear of disappointing others so that you live more like this:

  • You face people out in the world every day with a complete sense of inner peace and confidence. You spontaneously act and speak without even once thinking, “Should I do this or say that? What will they think?”.
  • You love who you are and can accept all the good and bad about yourself. If people resonate with you, that’s great, and if they don’t – it doesn’t bother you one bit.

In other words, you live free:

  • Free to be yourself
  • Free to ask for what you want
  • Free to act however you feel like acting
  • Free to share your unique perspective with the world
  • Free to completely accept yourself – the good and the bad

Before we talk about how to make that a reality, though, let’s take a look at the most common reason why it exists in the first place…

Why Am I So Afraid of Disappointing Others?

For many people, the fear of disappointing others started way back in early childhood.

Parents or anyone with authority over you when you were young may have taught you that you had to earn their approval to get what you needed.

fear of disappointing others begins in childhood

The message could come at you in many different ways, not just with words. Anyone who’s gotten “the look” from their mother or father will understand that you don’t need words to feel someone’s wrath or disappointment.

But the message was always the same, “Do as I want you to or else I will punish or ostracize you”.

And what happens when you’re punished repeatedly as a kid?

You start to think, “I’m no good. I can’t please anyone or do anything right”.

Shame and guilt set in, at least at first.

Often, the message doesn’t come through as “You are a good person, but your actions are unacceptable”. Instead, the only message that gets through for many small kids is the one that says, “You are bad!”.

See the difference?

If you start believing that it’s about you and not about your actions, all sorts of repercussions pop up throughout your life as a result.

You doubt everything you say, do, or don’t do, because you’re afraid you’ll “make” someone mad or disappointed – or any other negative emotion.

And if, God forbid, someone does get mad or disappointed by something you did, you feel, once again, that you’re a horrible person. It reinforces that old worry from childhood that you’re simply not good enough, you’ll be abandoned, and you’ll never get what you need. You think it’s “proof”.

In essence, it’s painful.

Have you ever had a splinter in your finger that you couldn’t remove?

remove that splinter

It’s sore, but you just keep bumping it, which makes it hurt even more. You think, “I’ll just wrap it with gauze!”. But it still hurts when you bump it.

So, you start using your other hand and try hiding the hand with the splinter. And you keep adjusting your actions so you don’t trigger that soreness.

When you truly believe that you may not be “good enough”, it’s the same thing. You adjust your whole life to avoid situations or people who might trigger that sore spot.

You hyper-focus on what others want, feel, and need while suppressing your own wants and needs. You constantly look for facial expressions or small comments that indicate potential dissatisfaction.

When you’re around people, you simply must stop their disapproval before they laugh at you or “hate” you and prove once again that you’re “bad” or “unworthy”.

So, what do you do? You constantly adjust your behavior to appease them.

  • You apologize when no apology is warranted.
  • You become submissive.
  • You outwardly agree with them when inside, you know that you’re betraying your own values.
  • Or worse, you just avoid people altogether, because you don’t want to risk doing something “wrong”.

But none of your efforts will work long-term until you get rid of that splinter!

You have to change the root cause, which means changing your core belief.

We’ll talk more about changing your beliefs later, but you need to internalize and know with 100% certainty that you don’t have to earn love and acceptance.

You are awesome.

Right here.

Right now.

Just the way you are.

Unless you’re a complete narcissistic, sociopathic asshole (and I’m pretty sure you’re not!), you deserve love, affection, and the freedom to be yourself, regardless of what others think.

When you encounter people who can’t see that – well, that really is their problem, not yours.

Anytime you rely on someone else for validation or a sense of worth, you’ll always be vulnerable – and let down.


Give yourself what you need.

If you love who you are and approve of yourself, it doesn’t matter whether there is a single soul on the face of the earth who agrees with you or not.

Once you know how wonderful you are, you don’t need someone “out there” to agree with or validate it for you.

I’m not saying it isn’t great when someone unconditionally sees your worth, because it is. But, it isn’t necessary.

Am I Afflicted?

Some people are so afflicted with the fear of disappointing others that it is plainly evident.

There is no question about how this fear limits their lives in a million different ways every day.

But as with everything, there’s a spectrum. Some people just have a “touch” of the fear, or it just pops up around certain people or in certain circumstances.

How much (if at all), does the fear of disappointing others affect you and your ability to live a phenomenal life?

Take this quiz to see how much it limits your life:

It’s Hard to Know What You Don’t Know…

Have you ever met someone who had no clue about something you’re familiar with, but they don’t KNOW that they don’t know about it?

If they’ve never encountered anything to do with the subject, they can’t question or investigate because it’s completely unknown. It’s hard to know what you don’t know!

Sometimes, it happens with the fear of disappointing others, too.

It’s so ingrained – so natural – that you don’t even realize how much it limits your life.

We’ll overcome that right now.

Let’s enlighten ourselves and discover all the insidious ways this fear infiltrates your life and causes you to live a life that is so less incredible than you deserve.

How many of these repercussions do you recognize in your own life?

What Are Some Effects?

  • You often feel the need to please others and make them “happy” while putting your own needs and desires on the back burner.
  • At the end of the day, you feel bad about yourself because you didn’t spend any time in the day accomplishing your goals or doing something that was just for you.
  • When you hear or read about “taking care of yourself”, you think, “What’s that?” or “How does that work?”.
  • You fear disappointing others so often that you suffer the symptoms of depression or anxiety. Worry and second-guessing your actions consumes a major portion of your days.
  • You don’t want to mingle with others because you feel inferior or just don’t want to “screw up” or look foolish.
  • You base most of your decisions and actions on what you think others want or need.
  • You’re afraid to choose a certain college major, career path, financial action, travel plan, or other major decision solely because you’re afraid of what others might say if you do.
  • You tiptoe through life feeling very insecure and rather worthless.
  • You can’t effectively cope with negative emotions like shame, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, guilt, and failure. These can pop up whenever you feel like you’ve disappointed someone. If you can’t handle these types of emotions, you end up spending inordinate amounts of time and energy doing whatever it takes simply to prevent them from showing up.
  • You won’t open up, be honest, or share your thoughts with anyone because they might not agree – or worse, chastise or ridicule you.
  • You suspect that your mind is your biggest obstacle preventing you from living a robust and fulfilling life.
  • You know you have something great to share with the world, but you hold back because you don’t want to appear arrogant or boastful. If you let your inner light shine, you fear it will make others jealous or feel inferior. So, you play small.
  • You have no idea who you really are, what you want, what your strengths and weaknesses are, or where you want to invest your time and energy. How can you when you spend all your time focusing on other’s opinions and very little time contemplating your own?
  • You can’t take a compliment. When people focus on you, you feel uncomfortable and want to quickly shift the focus back on them. When people say good things about you, you tend to dismiss them and think, “Well, they don’t know the truth”. In essence, you don’t believe them. But, if they say something negative about you, you’re all too eager to believe that and ruminate on it for the next several days.
  • You think that your incessant desire to please others is just “who you are” and that you’ll never overcome those feelings. And if you really want to eliminate it, you wouldn’t even know how to start.

Take Heed

It doesn’t matter how intensely this insidious fear has gripped you, entwined itself deep within, or taken over your life.

You can banish it forever!

But I have to warn you…

It ain’t easy!

Take heart, though.

Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You most certainly can kick it to the curb – forever.

People have been living on this planet for about 6 million years, and believe me, a sizable portion of them have dealt with the fear of disappointing others and have overcome it.

When you embark on your journey of self-improvement, just keep in mind these facts so you don’t get disheartened and give up before you reach your goal:

  • This fear has been with you probably since childhood. It’s not going to disappear overnight.
  • It may be so subconsciously embedded in your psyche, you might have to work hard just to recognize it.
  • When you start working on it, it’s going to cause you angst. You’ll most likely experience increased anxiety and other bad feelings. Just know that it’s temporary. Stick with it, because it often gets worse before it gets better. Don’t quit before you reach your goal!

But Here’s the Thing…

If this fear affects you, I don’t care how young or old you are, you need to start eradicating it NOW.

Seriously – right now.

You know what happens if you don’t?

The Urgency is Real!

Imagine:

You’re 75 years old. You’re sitting in your living room. Your significant other has passed on, and you don’t get many visitors, so your days leave you plenty of time to sit and ponder your past 75 years.

You sit there haunted by regrets like these:

  • “I wish I had the courage to pursue that guy I secretly loved when I was 20. But, I was so afraid of making a fool of myself…”.
  • “If only I had taken that trip to Italy when the opportunity presented itself. But my parents didn’t approve, so I let that once-in-a-lifetime chance pass me by”

    .

  • “I think I could have made the world a better place if I had pursued that desire to study engineering like I wanted to. But everyone said I should be a ____, and I spent all those years doing something my heart wasn’t invested in”.
  • “I wish I had been honest and stood up for myself more”.

Do you think that won’t happen to you?

An Australian woman named Bronnie Ware spent years caring for people in the end stage of life, and she asked them what their biggest regrets in life were. She compiled her results and published a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Want to hear the number one regret?

It was:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

It’s a great warning.

Work hard now so that when your days here come to an end, you can look back and revel that you had the courage to live a life true to yourself.

You’ve already suffered how long because of this fear? Do you want to keep suffering with the ramifications of it for another 30, 40, or 50 years?

Or would you rather do whatever you need to do to wipe it out now and spend the rest of your life free and authentic?

Start Right Now!

You don’t know when your last day will come, so don’t waste even one more day living a life where your fear of disappointing others makes your life far less than it could be.

Use these tips to start regaining your power and living an honest, true-to-yourself, fear-free amazing life:

  1. The first thing you need to do is get comfortable being uncomfortable.

    You can do everything imaginable to not disappoint others, but you know what? You’ll disappoint them anyway! It’s not possible to please everyone all the time, no matter what you do or don’t do. As long as you continue to walk around thinking that you are responsible for how someone else feels, you will never be in control of your life, and you will constantly set yourself up for failure and disappointment.

    Let go of that irrational and impossible expectation. Once you do, you’re going to feel like crap. You’ll feel anxious or even terrified. You have to push yourself to act the way you want to, knowing full well that the other person may get upset.

    Do it anyway.

    Learn to cope with the resulting emotions. Work through them and keep going. It’s not the end of the world, and you can handle it.

    The only way to learn is to do it – over and over and over again.

    Believe me, you’ll get better and more comfortable with it over time.

    Go ahead. Disappoint people.
    Practice it.It will be okay!!!!!

    What’s the worst that could happen?

    Maybe they’ll leave you forever?

    When you get rid of those who can’t support you, you make room in your life for those who will.

    Maybe it’ll take weeks, months, or years, but I assure you, your life will be better for it in the end.

    Give it a chance.

    Here’s the fact: You can read thousands of books and articles, take a hundred courses, pay thousands for therapy, and get advice from a gazillion people, but until you practice, incorporate that advice, and have real-world experience, you won’t change anything.

    You must do.

    That is how we learn, and that is how we change.

    Without action, it’s just theory.

  1. It’s helpful if you can find someone who supports you as you make this radical change.

    If you have a friend or family member – awesome! Discuss your goal with them and see if they’ll encourage you and hold you accountable.

    Don’t know anyone?

    There are now over 3 billion people in this world who regularly use the Internet. Maybe you can find one or two who can lend some support.

    Some people find that therapy helps, so if that appeals to you, check it out and give it a try.

    Just know this:

    If you don’t have support, you can still get rid of this crippling fear and re-route your life.

    Support is great, but it’s not a requirement.

    I speak from personal experience.

    You are strong, smart, and capable, and you can do it with or without support.

  1. Every day, make an effort to
    (a) directly ask someone for something, and
    (b) honestly speak a thought or opinion when, normally, you would have kept your mouth shut.

    Set a reminder on your phone or wear a rubber band on your wrist.

    Do something to remind yourself to do both of these things at least once a day.

    Don’t quit after a few days! Make a point to do it for a month straight or whatever time frame seems right for you.

    Lasting change requires persistent practice.

    Feel uncomfortable?

    Congratulations!

    That means you’re doing it correctly.

  1. Find new ways to cope with uncomfortable emotions.

    No one likes to feel sad, inferior, ridiculed, anxious, insecure, etc.

    But you’re going to feel that way. Probably quite often, at least in the beginning of this journey.

    How many people reach for a cigarette, a drug, a bottle of alcohol, escape into a video game, or some other unhealthy mechanism to help escape these negative feelings?

    Do some research and make a list of at least 10 ways you can cope with crappy feelings.

    The simplest and cheapest is deep breathing! Inhale deep into your abdomen for 4 seconds and exhale slowly for a count of 4 seconds. Do it for two minutes.

    Go for a walk. Pet your dog. Go do something nice for someone else. There are plenty of ways to take the focus off your crappy feelings and cope with them in a positive way.

    Put in the effort to figure out which ones work for you, write them down, and keep your list handy.

    And – I’ll say it again – practice using them!

  1. Do you know who you are? Over the course of a month, open a document on your preferred Word processor and ask yourself some self-reflective questions such as:
    • What are my strengths?
    • What do I wish I could improve about myself?
    • If I had one month left to live, where would I want to spend it?
    • What are two things that, when I do them, time flies by unnoticed, I feel excited and energized, and I enjoy it so much I don’t even care about eating or sleeping?

      You can add your own questions, but the point is to really get to know and understand yourself.

      Discover exactly what you like, what you want, what you dislike, what you’re willing to tolerate and what you won’t, who you want to emulate and who you’d like to stay away from, etc.

      Knowledge is power.

  1. If you have trouble discerning all the ways this fear limits your life, spend some time writing down any and all thoughts and actions you have or do that are a result of this fear.

    Open the memo app on your phone and keep a running list of situations that occur when you let this fear dictate your actions and thoughts.

    Then, add to the list.

    Write a list of ways you could act or think instead, and use those suggestions the next time a similar situation arises.

  1. Sometimes it’s not easy to do things for ourselves, but it’s easy to do things for others.

    To motivate yourself to do what you need to do and keep going in spite of the negative feelings that pop up, imagine that you are tasked with being a role model.

    It’s your job to show others how to be true to themselves, stand up, and live courageously.

    If you have kids, it’s easy to do.

    Just imagine that you’re being strong so you can teach them by example of how not to live a life ruled by fear.

    If you don’t have someone, choose an imaginary person to be a role model for.

    The fact is, when someone improves their life, the whole collective consciousness of this world becomes elevated.

    Each person matters, whether you can see it or not.

    You matter!

    Improving yourself subtly improves the world we all share.

    If that doesn’t suit you, research someone who lived life boldly and fearlessly or who overcame great odds, and then emotionally connect with them.

    They can be alive or dead. They can be someone you personally know, or someone you’ll never meet.

    Once you know them intimately, however, you can hold them close inside and choose your actions to be more aligned with them.

    Before you act, think, “What would ____ do?”. Then do that.

  1. Study Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) or any of the other modalities that are effective at changing faulty thinking patterns.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has helped a lot of people.

    There are people who have found tapping to be an effective coping mechanism.

    There are so many tools and techniques that can help you overcome your mental obstacles.

    Do some research online or talk to a professional who can lay out various options for you.

    Find one that resonates with you.

  1. Absolve yourself of responsibility that isn’t yours. This is an ongoing process, but keep reminding yourself of this basic fact:

    You are not responsible for anyone else’s life, actions, or feelings (excluding parenting!).

    You cannot ever make someone feel a certain way.

    How someone else feels is entirely their choice.

    You cannot “make” someone mad or sad or glad – or whatever.

    They choose their reaction.

    They choose their thoughts.

    They choose their emotions.

    Stop assuming you are that you are so powerful that you can control another person’s mood!

    They have their life, and you have yours.

    They make their own choices. That is not on you, regardless of what they say or believe.

    Quit feeling bad about something that is not even within your control! That’s just silly!

  1. Be gentle with yourself!

    This is a process.

    You win some, and you fail some.

    You’ll take one step forward and then two steps back.

    Would you chastise your little 2-year-old daughter the first time she falls as she learns to walk? I hope not!

    Be kind and patient with yourself, just as you would with someone you love.

    Don’t expect perfection. No one will ever execute perfectly 100% of the time.

    When you do well, create little rewards for yourself.

    When you fail, soothe your broken ego with kind words, patience, and understanding.

    You’re worth it.

Download a Condensed (and handy!) List if These 10 Action Steps to Carry With You

What Are You Waiting For?

You don’t know when your last day will come, so don’t waste even one more day living a life where your fear of disappointing others makes your life far less than it could be.

If you allow the fear of disappointing others dictate your actions, your life will be so much less than it could be.

You are amazing and unique, whether you believe that or not.

You came here to learn, grow, and share that incredible inner light that only you possess.

As you gain the courage to do just that, you get to contribute something priceless to this world. You help elevate all of humanity as the collective consciousness expands and evolves to the next level.

Life is not stagnant. It is always in a constant state of flux. It grows, evolves, and always aspires to become more than it was.

You are part of that!

Download a copy the ten action steps listed above right now and get to work on eradicating that limiting and disabling fear.

We Need You!

Your ideas, your perspective, and your personality are incredible. The world needs you to share them!

You are responsible for honoring your gifts and talents. Let them shine forth, for all to see.

It doesn’t matter one iota whetherthose around you “agree” or “support you”. Screw them!

Stand up, throw off your shackles, and create an enlightened life defined by your wants, needs, values, and desires.

You are not here to live the life someone else wants you to live.

Believe me, if they focused their time and energy on perfecting themselves and sharing their own wonders with the world, they wouldn’t have a minute to spare.

They wouldn’t have time to spend on contemplating how to get you to live the life they want to live through you.

Repeat After Me:

(no really! Shout it out loud until your throat hurts!):

I am incredibly smart, bold, creative, capable, and unique.

I have the right to make my own decisions and live my life the way I want.

If you accept me, that’s great. If you chastise me, step aside.

I don’t need to tolerate anything or anyone I don’t want to.

If you’re in my life, it’s because I choose to have you around. It’s not because I need you.

I was not meant to sit on the sidelines, follow the herd, or live my life your way.

Get out of my way, because here I come!

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Conquer Your Fear of Disappointing Others (Even if it’s Haunted You for Years)

by Michele time to read: 26 min
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