Practice making decisions that disappoint people.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

​As a kind-hearted person, you love helping others. You never want to disappoint people. As a result, you’re probably exhausted, or in danger of burnout.

I used to be so scared of people’s disapproval. This is in part from my Asian heritage, in part being an immigrant and trying to fit into the mainstream culture, and in part being predisposed towards kindness, as you are.

A trait that I’ve had to develop, in order to operate a joyfully productive and personally sustainable business, is to be kind yet firm. There’s a good chance you need to work on this, too, if you want a thriving business.
One example is when you need to raise your rates. As a kind person, you’re afraid to disappoint clients with higher rates. Yet if you don’t raise rates, you probably won’t reach financial viability or have a healthier and more sustainable schedule.

It is a personal development practice to be OK with making an empowering decision that disappoints people. As long as you try to be kind in how you go about things, you can do anything you want, that’s aligned with your purpose. 

It’s not natural. It takes practice.

Truth: the bad feelings of other people, even if it appears to be caused by your actions, are mostly not your responsibility. Especially when you are trying to be kind and aligned with your purpose. Why they feel badly is due to many other disappointing experiences in their life. You can’t change their past that led to these current feelings.

In fact, when you are kind, yet firm, in your decision to not please them, it gives others a “positive” experience of disappointment. They, too, are practicing how to feel OK about reality. 

Your bad feelings of disappointing others are something you need to observe, then transmute into well-wishes and moving on. Practice, and it gets easier.

And the easier it gets for you to be OK with disappointing others (with kindness), the more liberated and capable you become to joyfully live into your purpose. You are learning how to empower yourself.

Practice being OK with:
  • Not agreeing with others
  • Not getting back to people quickly
  • Not doing what other people want you to do
  • Not knowing whether people will like something you publish
  • People’s reactions when you need to change direction

Be more concerned with:
  • Being connected to your purpose
  • Having a plan that you’re excited to work
  • Whether your schedule is personally sustainable
  • Whether your business model and pricing will sustain you 
  • Whether you are being well-balanced between work and rest

Stretching yourself because you want to, not because others might feel bad

There’s a big internal difference between doing good things so you don’t experience the bad feelings of disappointing people, versus doing good things from a balanced and grounded place of stretching yourself for the sake of further development.

For example, if you’re feeling unbalanced because you constantly feel the pressure to get back to people quickly -- emails, messages, social media comments -- then for awhile you need to practice “disappointing” people by not getting back to them quickly. Practice being OK with their reaction, and how you feel about it. This empowers you mentally and emotionally. It also helps you to have a more sustainable schedule.

Then, once you’re OK with these feelings, you might then practice getting back to people a little more quickly because it provides good customer service, better networking, etc. But you’re doing it for the professional growth, not because you can’t bear to experience people’s disappointment. 

Eventually you may be back to responding quickly to people, but it’s a big internal difference why you’re doing it.

Living not in fear but with genuine love

Someone who seems "loving" and does a lot to please others might actually be living with a lot of fear of judgment. Yes there's love mixed in there, but the driving force may in fact be fear of disapproval. 

That is such a hard life to live.

We often forget that we need to continually, daily, practice connecting with our personal eternal source of Love. To experience that Love as so fulfilling that we don't really need the approval of anyone else.

Then, from a grounded state of being, we might then stretch ourselves, personally or professionally, out of genuine love to serve others, rather than fear that we may disappoint them.  

Back to the example of raising rates: What if clients complain? And what if some potential clients are shocked by your higher rates?  Remember that their feelings aren’t your responsibility, as long as you are communicating kindly, while staying true to your purposeful plans. 

Let people feel what they feel. 

And let yourself feel whatever you may feel, breathing into it, knowing that with kindness and purpose, you’ll be perfectly OK, and more empowered to build a viable and thriving business.

​George's Kao's free content is all for the Creative Commons. Share or use however you like.