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Short and Sweet Summary: When you stop trying to make everyone happy and start disappointing people on purpose, you invest your energy into the most unapologetic act of self-love. You say, “I’m going to do what’s best for me” and start taking care of your needs first. No one else is going to do it for you.

Do you spend too much time worrying about what others think of you? Are you trying too hard to make everyone around you happy because your crushing grief is too much to bear?

If the fear of disappointing people is weighing heavy on your already fragile shoulders, I have a suggestion. Stop trying to make everyone happy and practice disappointing people on purpose instead.

The thing is, making everyone happy is impossible. Now is not the time to worry about how to make others happy. Your focus should be on you and how you’re making peace with your grief. It’s essential to your well-being to be OK with disappointing people because people will be disappointed regardless of what you do or how you do it. You can’t control how others act or react.

It’s time to start disappointing people on purpose and invest your energy into the most radical act of self-love.

  • Put your needs first
  • Say no
  • Quit your job
  • Sell your house
  • Stay in your house but change the furniture
  • Wear your wedding ring
  • Don’t wear your wedding ring
  • Start dating again
  • Don’t start dating again
  • Travel
  • Do whatever the hell you want

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. I can people-please and avoid conflict with the best of them. I typically do what I’m supposed to do, not what I want to do. And I’m not advocating being mean or ruthless. I’m just saying you can do what’s best for you on purpose and without regret.

I’ve learned in my widow journey that it’s more important to worry about what I think of me than what other people think of me. One of the gifts of grief is finally learning that life is too short to pretend.

So let’s stop pretending we need to make everyone around us happy and start learning how to be the very best kind of disappointment instead.

What does it mean to disappoint someone?

When someone doesn’t understand or agree with your reasons for doing something, disappointment ensues. They’ve attributed conditions to your actions. Disappointment arises from someone else’s hopes and expectations about the things you do.

But your life choices aren’t up for debate. The greatest thing about free will is that you get to make your own decisions Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. Sometimes you’ll be spot on. Either way, you’re doing what’s best for you.

It’s easy to fall into the rut of avoiding certain behaviors or conversations because you’re afraid of the disappointment repercussions. But you need to love yourself more than the fear of letting someone else down. When you stop trying to make everyone happy you learn that disappointment isn’t the end of the world.

Being true to yourself is a better trade-off.

How do you respond to someone who’s disappointed in you?

If you feel like others are judging your grief, you’re not alone. Many widows withstand criticisms about what others think they “should” do and how they should to it.

However, you don’t need to add someone else’s disappointment to your list of things to worry about. Your list is long enough already, so let’s get comfortable responding to disappointed people.

Here are some responses you can try. Pick the most appropriate response that corresponds with your current situation:

“I see that you really care about (topic) and while I appreciate your concern, I want you to know I’m at peace with my decision. This reply acknowledges how much the other person cares and is paying attention, but also emphasizes that you’ve put ample thought into your decision.

“I’m doing what’s best for me, not what’s best for you. This reply underscores your competence in making decisions for yourself and lets the other person know the decision isn’t about them.

“I’m sorry you feel that way and it makes me sad that there’s nothing I can do to change your mind.” This emotional reply validates the other person’s view and sends the message that you’re concerned but unwilling to continue arguing about it.

“I feel like I can’t sell you on my logic so I’m not going to try.” This reply reflects your refusal to engage in a debate about your decision because no one needs to understand the logic you use to determine what’s best for you. Your logic won’t necessarily work for others because they aren’t walking in your shoes.

What you can say when you stop trying to make everyone happy

How can you stop being disappointed in others?

The same logic you apply to handling disappointment from others works when you’re the one who’s disappointed.

The biggest thing I hear from widows is that people let them down in their greatest time of need. Friends bail. People stop calling. Invitations dwindle. But what if you stopped focusing on what others aren’t doing for you and focused on what you can do for yourself instead?

Sometimes we create our own heartbreak through expectation

The disappointment you feel stems from the conditions you attribute to others‘ actions. If no conditions existed would you be disappointed? Probably not.

The key to managing disappointment is to lower your expectations about how you think other people should act. It’s not OK for others to be mean or disrespectful. In fact, those behaviors require a heart-to-heart conversation. However, if someone isn’t doing something you think they should do based on your own preset conditions, it’s time to reevaluate your outlook.

Wouldn’t you expect them to do the same for you?

Widow Wrap Up

I’m sure you’ve been disappointed by death, grief, and heartbreak more than you care to admit. Disappointment in others or their disappointment in you, only adds unnecessary frustration to an already frustrating situation.

Instead of allowing disappointment to work against you, it’s time to use disappointment in your favor. Your focus should be on you and how you’re making peace with death, grief and your new normal. One way to do that is to practice disappointing people on purpose. People will be disappointed regardless of what you do or how you do it, so you might as well put yourself and your needs first.

When you disappoint people on purpose you invest your energy into the most radical act of self-love. You say, “I’m going to do what’s best for me” and start taking care of your needs first. No one else is going to do it for you.

So stop pretending you need to make everyone around you happy and start learning how to be the very best kind of disappointment instead.

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