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Do You Have a Fear of Disappointing Others? How to Conquer It for Good

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Do You Have a Fear of Disappointing Others? How to Conquer It for Good

It’s completely normal to care and worry, but once we allow the fear of disappointing others to take over, we’re simply hitting our own head against the wall.

Somewhere along the way, society seems to have glorified this feeling to be something positive as it means you care, but the fear of disappointing others can be a powerful negative emotion that can eat away from your own happiness.

This article takes you through 6 steps that will help you conquer the fear of disappointing others.

1. Accept You’ll Never Be Enough (In the Eyes of Others)

This may sound harsh, but it’s important to remember that if your goal is to please everyone – then you’re setting yourself up to fail. Even if you act exactly (how you think is) right, there will always be people with different perspectives and views on how things should be. The idea that you can please everyone is unfortunately delusional, because it’s simply impossible.

Strangers, family, and friends all have different ideas about what’s wrong or right. Their idea of good behavior might be somewhat close to each other, or really really far away from each other – in the end it doesn’t matter, because they will never completely align with each other which means you will always fail and disappoint someone.

Mark Manson explains our differences as humans like this:[1]

”The questions is not whether we evaluate ourselves against others; rather, the question is by what stand do we measure ourselves.” 

So, to sum up this theory: We measure everything from success to happiness (and in this case what’s wrong or right) completely different. We have different values, which means we measure things according to own (different) metrics.

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We like the idea of perfection, but as soon as we realize we’re most definitely not anywhere near that, and we won’t ever be enough in everyone’s eyes, then you can start growing and letting go of the fear.

2. Really Push Yourself out of Your Comfort Zone

A comfort zone is nice and comfy, but it stands in the way of growth. We can’t ever move forward and go further, if we stand still – and that’s exactly what you do in your comfort zone. You’re standing still in a frozen moment that you’re familiar with and know all too well.

Sometimes the only way to conquer fear is through pushing yourself into uncomfortable situations, but it can of course be extremely scary to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Start out with something small. It can be a task that you’ve been putting off, because the whole idea of this scenario makes you feel uncomfortable. It can be anything from telling your partner something that’s been on your mind (but you’re afraid of their reaction or letting them down) to taking a fitness class that you feel you aren’t fit enough to take.

We all started out with baby steps once.

Even when you just push yourself to do one little thing, you’ll be left with a big relief and feel much stronger, because nine out of ten times it’s never as scary or uncomfortable as we had imagined in our head. After you’ve felt how good it feels to conquer you fears – big or small – you’ll automatically want to challenge yourself more and more.

If you’re still wondering if it’s necessary to step out of your comfort zone, here’s the answer for you.

3. Analyze Your Behavior

Sometimes we need to take a step back and take a look at ourselves. Why are your reaction like this? Where does your fear come from? Do you get anxious about it and why?

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It helps to take a deeper look. Therapy can be a great option if you want another (and professional) perspective, or you can try to go back and look at your past yourself.

The fear of disappointing others is very normal, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not a trait in ourselves that has been created because of our childhood, a trauma, or past relationships. The way we react to others is often more about ourselves than them.

One example of our behavior towards others can be explained through the attachment theory:[2]

”The basic premise is that we’re not all the same when it comes to intimacy and commitment. Instead, we each have a relatively consistent ‘attachment style… This, the theory claims, is largely down to our upbringing. But it can also be influenced in later life by our adult relationships, seeing a psychologist or suffering trauma.”

While this attachment theory takes premise in romantic relationships and how we react to intimacy and commitment, the theory is still very useful when you’re trying to understand why you have a fear of disappointing others around you.

The attachment theory has different attachment styles that relates back to our upbringing. If you take a closer look at the different styles and how the types react in situations, it’s fairly easy to place yourself. This will help you get a better understanding of yourself, as well as why you react a certain way, and where this fear comes from.

4. Set up Boundaries

It’s important to set up boundaries in your life, especially emotional boundaries. Don’t let people mistake your kindness for weakness.

If you’re reading this, then you’re most likely interested in pleasing people around you. Which is definitely not a bad thing. You want to make people happy and you enjoy helping others, but if you’re always acting this way towards everyone, then you’ll come across people who’ll take advantage of it at one point.

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Take a look at the different relationships in your life and learn to set up boundaries: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

5. Don’t Personalize People’s Reactions

The reason why someone reacts or acts towards you in a certain way may often not even be about you. You may be fearful of saying no to someone, because you fear their reaction, but how do you know the reaction you’ll get it based on you and not other factors?

Let’s say a person invites you to a party and you’re afraid of saying no, because it would disappoint them – how do you actually know this? Maybe you’re telling yourself that you know this person and therefore you know they’ll react negatively, or you’ve seen them react a certain way towards another person that said no, but maybe none of this had anything to do with you and whether or not you’re disappointing them.

The person might react angry or upset to the outside world simply because that’s how this person reacts to news that don’t align with their plan (but this doesn’t mean they think anything negatively about you). Or the person might seem upset, because they don’t want to jump up and down of joy after you just told them you weren’t showing up.

Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D explains it like this:[3]

“Personalization sounds like this: If I don’t get what I want it means I am not good enough and don’t deserve it. When you overly personalize a disappointment, you make it about who you are as a person and do not take into account the many situational factors that had nothing to do with you”.

Don’t (over) analyze situations and personalize people’s reactions to your actions. Base your actions on your values and what you know.

6. Revaluate Your Own Values

If you want to let go of the fear of disappointing others, then you need to figure out who you are exactly first. What are your values? What do you want to stand for? Are you acting accordingly to who you want to be – and if not – what can you do to change this?

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Our own core values are tricky to figure out completely. It takes time and it’s a never-ending process, because we (hopefully) don’t ever stop moving and growing. We change over time; we grow and so does our mind.

But if we don’t take the necessary time to get to know ourselves, revaluate our values, and understand what we want for ourselves, then we’ll fall into the pressure of what others think and we’ll get easily effected by their opinion of us.

If you’d like to figure out your own values better, take a look at this article: Knowing My Values Has Filled up the Long-Existed Missing Gap in My Life

The Bottom Line

Fear can be scary and overwhelming, so we need to be able to go back to our gut instinct and rely on that.

The more comfortable and good you feel about your own actions, the easier it will be to let go of the stress and fear of disappointing others.

In the end, people may not be pleased with your actions – but this way you will be.

More About Conquering Fear

Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Maria Jensen

Specializes in personal and professional development.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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