I’ve fairly recently had a significant let-down from someone. Normally, I move on fairly quickly from that sort of thing, but this time I got to thinking about all the false senses of expectation I see in myself and others. After some thought, this list of 10 reasons people let other people down came to me (with some angst, apparently). Not one thing on it is the “fault” of those who let others down.
Before we get into it, I should note that meditation definitely helps with a proper perspective if you’ve had a feeling of disappointment in others recently. I mention it since the rest of this post is perhaps harsh; being kind to ourselves isn’t always on the same page with fixing our understanding of our relationship to the world. 🙂
Reason #1 People Let You Down: You Let Them Down
The most common reason for people to let us down is because we ourselves let other people down. Usually in the exact same way. Listen to the complaining and you’ll hear it. People who don’t show up when things get bad for other people complain that other people don’t show up when things get bad for them. People who don’t pitch in at work complain about being overwhelmed with work. People who have a wandering eye in relationships question the fidelity of their significant others. If a lot of the people around you are letting you down in the same exact way, that’s a surefire sign that it’s actually you demonstrating that behavior and folks around you see no worthwhile reason to give to you that which you do not give to them.
Affirmation: Today, I contemplate the perceived failures of others and question whether I am simply projecting my failures outward.
Reason #2 People Let You Down: You’re Unpleasant
This one is almost obvious. What’s not obvious to many people is when we’re being unpleasant. Complaining about the trivia of our own lives, having extreme reactions to standard situations, and being obviously unable to cope are not fun things to see and engage with. A lot of people seem to think that putting their troubles on the air will somehow create less pressure or inspire other people to pitch in greater efforts, but it’s not true – people feel de-energized when others embody negativity. The concept of an “energy vampire” is of someone who knowingly or unknowingly drains energy from those around them. Any negative emotion like anger, self-pity, indignation, or self-indulgent weakness creates a vacuum around you – and the only ones who are there with you in that vacuum for long have the same emotional problems you do. People who are actually mobile in their situations and lives aren’t standing around the cooler and commiserating; they offer you a rote response just so you’ll shut up.
Affirmation: Today, I contemplate whether my “venting” has made me insufferable to others.
Reason #3 People Let You Down: You’re a Slacker
This can be related to reason #1, but not necessarily. Maybe we are there in a pinch or do give to others that which we are seeking for ourselves. But, except for those two limited circumstances, are you just treading water? People who live almost entirely reactively are not conscious in the full meaning of the word. When they become conscious with a need or a desire, they find that nobody pays attention. Well, that’s because people think you’re still just passing the time. If you never do anything and just ramble on, people assume it’s just more robotic garbage you’re spewing when you actually try to make a move.
Affirmation: Today, I contemplate whether I actually speak meaningfully in my relationships.
Reason #4 People Let You Down: You Don’t Define Expectations
This is huge in both relationships and business.
Husbands and wives the world over come into relationships expecting that their significant others will perform a grocery list of actions on a regular basis, but it’s never said. Then, over time the perceived repeated failures of their partners are also not mentioned and a steady resentment begins to build.
The same thing for business owners and employees. Your employee not delivering what you expect? Many people just don’t know what it is that they’re supposed to be doing at work. They get these abstract ideas and random directions from a dozen different people and just try to cope their way through. No segment of the business is clearly their domain, everything they might do requires oversight and approval, and generally speaking they’re treated like children for 8 hours a day in exchange for a paycheck. Or, are you an employee disgruntled by lack of recognition or pay raises? Well, have you even sought out the recognition or extra money? Business owners and management are worried about bottom lines, and in some utopia world you might get recognized for your awesomeness. More generally, though, after you’re awesome for a while your bosses just expect that awesomeness as business as usual. If you don’t make waves, then you must be happy as a clam, they’ll think.
Affirmation: Today, I contemplate whether I have actually asked for that which I desire.
Reason #5 People Let You Down: Your Vision is Unclear
Even if we define our expectations, we might still get let down and not for some arbitrary external reason (which are a dime a dozen, the reasons people give you for letting you down are almost never true just out of politeness). It could be that our expectation seems like nonsense. You can’t expect your significant other, family, friends, or co-workers to do you favor after favor to make your dream of opening an old-style movie theater come true. Unless you’re set about to give a presentation like you would to venture capitalists, your oddball dream or vague idea of “something better” isn’t going to automatically make sense to people.
Affirmation: Today, I separate my goals into those that are private journeys and those that are journeys of my tribe.
Reason #6 People Let You Down: You Apply Too Much Pressure
If we pressure again and again for something, then perhaps other people will buckle and become instruments of our will. It certainly works for some business owners and unhappy people in relationships. The problem, though, is that most people have a certain amount of dignity that prevents them from becoming completely submissive in anything. So, outside of your private little kingdom, if you try to over-pressure people, you’re bound to find them completely abandoning you or passive-aggressively sabotaging your ambitions.
Affirmation: Today, I contemplate whether I have given enough respect to everyone around me.
Reason #7 People Let You Down: You Apply Too Little Pressure
The most talented people are usually incredibly busy. In a fantasy business model or some fantasy relationship, perhaps you should be able to mention something once and it gets fulfilled for you. Unless you’re talking to someone who has nothing to do but be at your beck and call, though, they could probably use a reminder if they don’t check in. If you don’t check in, there’s a certain expectation that your request isn’t all that time-sensitive and it can wait compared to people who are in constant communication over what they want. Perhaps that sucks, but it’s a part of life. On the flip side, if you always ask for things then you’re overcompensating to reason #6.
Affirmation: Today, I contemplate whether I request things in accordance to their importance.
Reason #8 People Let You Down: You Think People Are Resources
I’m sure it exists also in the circles of families and friends, but I see this all the time in businesses. Management looks to introduce quantitative measurements that will help them run their businesses, and of course that’s absolutely the right thing to do. The problem is that, if you look at the numbers coming from people, you can get to thinking that people are in fact numbers. The result of this type of perception is that you then try to use other numbers to manipulate people. Offering money and time off are good things without a doubt, and some people do go idle in their work lives because they’re underpaid or overworked, but any of the other reasons in this list could be the reasons behind those numbers. Or, just as likely, because people are humans with their own independent lives they might have their own reasons, like tension at home or illness, that cannot be manipulated in any way by some stuffed collar whatsoever.
Affirmation: Today, I will attempt to connect to people as whole beings.
Reason #9 People Let You Down: You Make Bad Choices
One of the biggest reasons that people let us down is that we choose bad people to lay expectations on. You can be a kind, loving person with a giving attitude and still choose people who are clearly horrible for you. This is perhaps the biggest reason of them all for so many ill-treated gentle hearts. Sometimes creeps manage to surround themselves with loving people, and if you have the sad truth of loving a creep then nothing will get better until you manage to move on. This is similar to Point 8 of the 8 Pointed Path of Eknath Easwaran, which directs us to associate with people focused on spiritual growth if we want to spiritually grow.
Affirmation: Today, I contemplate whether I have chosen wisely in my associations.
Reason #10 People Let You Down: You Think People Owe You
Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.Alexander Pope
I had this realization a few years back:
“Nobody owes me a damn thing.”
And that’s true for you too. I don’t care what sort of “debt” you think people might owe you. Maybe you have an employment contract with them. Maybe you married them. Maybe you are related by blood. So what? None of those reasons mean people owe you anything. The son owes the father nothing, the wife owes the husband nothing, the worker owes the boss nothing. The other way too, as harsh as that may seem. That said, anyone who doesn’t care for and protect their children is broken and pitiful in my estimation – that’s not a debt of father to son, it’s simply human.
If you gave with the expectation of getting something back, then you are a grifter and owed condemnation. Too many people attempt to make life a capitalism. True love does not require it to be returned, and no simple exchange of services automatically creates a requirement for further services.
Affirmation: Today, I seek to give rather than receive in all things.
Ultimately, one must choose between being a pillar of strength that supports and heals the house of their relationships or a piece of furniture that exists merely as a comfort accessory in that house. Both are protected from the rain and the furniture is more appreciated during times of plenty. It’s certainly easier to be a bookcase than a pillar. When the winter descends, though, it is the bookcase that is sacrificed to the fireplace regardless of how well it’s held books.
Weigh your requests carefully before you make them. Don’t impose without courtesy and respect. Above all, don’t feel indebted or owed at the core level of being. A lifetime is but a fleeting moment in eternity; none of us can be bound for more than a moment.
Why People Will Always Let You Down, Steven Furtick (Christian)
You might also enjoy:
- When Other People Let You Down – neverforsaked.wordpress.com
- How to Deal With Feeling “Let Down” – dancingwithhappiness.com
- 8 Harsh Truths that Will Improve Your Life – dumblittleman.com
- No One Owes You Anything (and Why That’s Awesome) – danwaldschmidt.com
- 10 Things You Must Give Up to Be Successful – marcandangel.com