Fear of Disappointing Others (3 Critical Reminders)

Jordan Brown

This is hard to admit.

I feel like I'm letting people down lately.

It's because I'm spread too thin, and I know it.

Between work responsibilities, life responsibilities, a mental health audio project, and planning for a sudden, unexpected move, it's hard to keep it all together.

In my heart, I know that I care too much to truly let someone down completely.

Still, I'm a sensitive person, and I worry about it.

I worry that I'm I'm disappointing others.

But I've done something to help me out and get my mind right.

I've come up with a list of reminders when I get to this point.

If you ever feel like you're letting others down or disappointing others, I want you to refer to this list and give yourself some perspective.

Fear of Disappointing Others - 3 Critical Reminders

1. It Only Takes One Person to Disappoint

Think about this. You can feel like you're letting others down when you're actually not.

You can feel like you've disappointed the world when the world doesn't even know what you're talking about.

This is a crucial concept to keep in mind.

Anxiety is a tricky foe, and it can insert thoughts in your mind that have no basis in reality.

But what if there is some truth to what you're feeling?

Even then, it's probably not as bad as you think.

2. Fear-Setting: What's the Worst that Could Happen?

Our brains evolved to keep us alive--not to manage a hundred tasks on a to-do list.

Our ancestors had to be on the lookout for finding enough food to live, and they had to make sure they didn't get attacked by a wild beast during the food-finding process.

Yikes. That's a worst-case scenario if I've ever heard one.

You and I, though?

We have it easy compared to our ancestors.

But our brains don't know that!

Our brains were built during a different time.

I've talked about fear-setting in another issue, but the gist of it is that you take a piece of paper, you write down all your concerns, and then you write the absolute worst-case scenarios for what could happen if things spin out of control.

What ends up happening is that you realize that the worst-case scenario is not that bad--and is actually quite survivable.

3. You Create Your Levels of Disappointment

Not all disappointment is created equal. My wife reminds me of this important fact frequently. I'm glad she does.

Letting my wife down is more important than letting someone at work down.

Letting someone at work down could be more important than letting  someone else down in another area of your life.

For you, that might not be true.

But you create the hierarchy, not anyone else.

What I know is that significant others and family have to come first.

When I've disobeyed this rule, I feel it. My loved ones let me know.

And I know in my heart that my priorities aren't right.

If you're having trouble building your hierarchy to come up with your levels of disappointment, I suggest this simple rule:

Put the ones who have been with you the longest first.

My wife has been by my side through heart surgery, mental health crises, family issues, and work changes.

People at work?

While I often think of them as family, the timeline of our relationship is considerably shorter.

Give love to the ones who love you most.

I'm still studying this important concept, and I likely always will be.

How to Get Over Your Fear of Disappointment

To summarize, there are three ideas you need to remember:

  1. Remember that it only takes one person to disappoint, and that person is you. Get your thoughts straight, and you'll be better off.
  2. Think about the worst that could happen, and then write it down. It seems like a bad idea, but you'll see what I mean when you try it. The worst for you is nowhere near the worst for people living 1000 to 10,000 years ago.
  3. Create your levels of disappointment. Give some order to your feelings. Putting the time into thinking through which relationships are most valuable will help you unclutter your mind when it comes to trying to make the entire world happy.

Of course, these three ideas won't solve all your problems, but they will point you in the right direction to help you get over your fear of disappointing others.

Just remember, this uncomfortable feeling / fear is a natural phenomenon. It's built into your brain.

We were made to need each other, and so we have special sensitivity to the fact that we might be letting others down.

You're not going to make everyone happy, but that should never be your goal.

Start with yourself.

Expand to your inner circle.

And then build the levels to guide your life.