“Listen. Every time you’re given a choice between disappointing someone else and disappointing yourself, your duty is to disappoint that someone else. Your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself…Especially me.”
Whew! Woah! Let me catch my breath and let’s look at that. I certainly didn’t have a mother who encouraged me to disappoint anyone, especially her (not that she was openly disappointed with me often, but this was not the rule of the game of life).
I do not read this as a directive to set out to hurt others or to intentionally see how many people you can disappoint. But I do see it as an opportunity to not abandon, sacrifice, or disappoint yourself, which I think we do way too frequently without giving it a second thought. This is an invitation to possibly get really uncomfortable as you find a new way to be in the world.
How often do you set your needs or desires aside because of what someone else needs or wants? How often do you think nothing of disappointing yourself? Honestly...
Last week I wrote about being true to yourself as part of my definition for self-care in A Fresh Take on Self-Care. Being true to ourselves, honoring ourselves, is at the heart of true and deep self-care. It is also key to being in integrity.
And, listen, sometimes when we are true to ourselves, when we make a decision that honors our sweet heart, body, or soul, someone we care about very much might be disappointed. When we say “no” to an invitation or opportunity. When we refuse a request because we just don’t have it in us or it doesn’t feel right at this moment. When we say “yes” to something that conflicts with another’s desire, we will disappoint someone else.
Life is full of choices. Every “yes” is a “no” to something else, and so there are lots of opportunities for disappointing someone!
When you make a choice to leave a job, end a relationship, sell the family home, move far away from all your people, say “no” to helping, etc… someone will likely be sad, angry, hurt, or disappointed.
What happens inside you when you consider disappointing someone you really care about? How does that feel in your body?
What is the story you tell yourself about who you would be if you disappointed another person?
I don’t know about you, but I get a little queasy. I may have a story that this isn’t what a “nice person” or a “good mother/daughter/sister/friend” does. I might try to dance around making that decision. I will surely delay as long as possible. I will consider heavily just giving in or settling for what they want, because it feels easier. It feels familiar. It’s what I’ve done for decades. Far easier to disappoint me – then I only have to deal with myself!
I wish I had had a parent who gave me permission or even implored me to disappoint others in order to avoid hurting my own heart or spirit. I wish I had been that mother for my kids… I wasn’t, but I’m getting there. I feel the strength and freedom in the incredible gift Glennon gave her daughter in this moment. One small conversation with a middle school girl gave her permission to follow her own path, to trust her heart, to honor her joy. Whewie! Let’s have more of that please!
I haven’t yet explicitly shared it with my young adult kids, but I hope to. I want to set them free of needing to be or do anything for me (or anyone) that goes against their spirit.
Your turn to reflect…
~ What is the cost of disappointing yourself to avoid disappointing others?
~ How do you get clear about making a decision that is FOR you even if it seems to be against someone else? What if there’s more to it (because there always is)?
~ How can you take a stand for yourself, have your own back and communicate your message in a way that is clean, clear, and straightforward?
~ What helps you to make these choices, even when they are painfully hard?
~ When have you had to do this and how has it worked out for you? What are the upsides of disappointing others to avoid disappointing yourself?
~ How might you play with this idea? Who might you share it with? Who might you free?
Please share. Please share your reflections and thoughts about this whole idea… it’s a dicey one! And one that feels like a really important game-changer in this thing called life.
Stay tuned for next week’s post with more thoughts about making these tough decisions!