What to do when people let you down

This is a subject that is close to my heart so I felt it was a good time to write a blog on it – call it therapy. We will all experience times in our lives when people ‘let us down’.  That is a given, it doesn’t matter how optimistic you are, you cannot control or account for other people’s behaviour.

Now I am not referring to people who demonstrate any signs of narcissism, manipulative, controlling or violent behaviour. I am focusing on the day-to-day experiences we have with family, friends and colleagues.

I thought I would share a few strategies that I have found useful and many of the people I have coached have found useful.

No running, or hiding

As difficult as it may be, stifling, or stuffing down your feelings (which may veer between disbelief, grief, anger to name a few)  – to my mind – does not work. I’ve tried it and those buried feelings only come up again at a totally random and irrelevant time.  Do whatever you need to do – speak to a counsellor or therapist, write down your feelings, find healthy outlets such as exercise – but I’m afraid sometimes it’s actually about sitting with those uncomfortable feelings. If they are feelings that you have had before, and you have inkling that there may be some subconscious patterns running, then deal with them.  Don’t indulge them but do experience them  – it will make you stronger.

What’s my role in this?

This is a toughie. But sometimes events show up in our lives because on a subconscious level we have attracted them. It could be a lesson we need to learn, or re-learn, a ‘sharpening of the knife’ or skills, a warning sign, or a situation that at the end of it, really demonstrates what we do want in our lives. It may be we need to choose different kinds of partners, or a different job role.  Very often these situations pop until until we do something different.

Be kind to yourself

What do you like to do? Exercise? Sleep? Take a bath? Go out partying with your friends. Be around loving and supportive people who boost you, and find activities where the time flies past.

Mind your language

Watch the self-talk. Words such as ‘I’m an idiot’ or ‘I can’t believe this happened’ are not always helpful. Whilst it’s important not to shy away from the uncomfortable truth, don’t beat yourself up or blame yourself. Choose more empowering words such as ‘This situation was not for my highest good’, or ‘I have learnt a lot from this situation’ or ‘I left an unhealthy situation’. This soften up the language as very often what we tell ourselves internally, ends up manifesting in our external behaviours and interactions.

Any change can be tough

Whatever the change is, the loss of a job, a difficult work situation, or the break-up of a relationship – it’s all change. Check out the Kubler-Ross change curve. It’s well documented that the ups and down are what everyone experiences (again unless someone is a narcissist or mentally unstable)

Remember what you didn’t like

Tempted to go back to an unhealthy situation?  Get a piece of paper and write down everything that was negative about the situation and how it made you feel. Try to put down the rose-coloured specs. That was not the reality. Ensure you were not carried along with the ‘idea’ of something, rather than the truth of what is was like.


In time, when you have processed, written down your feelings  – you may feel like adopting a mind-set of…..well yes that was tricky but I am so excited for the future I do not yet know. Congratulate yourself on your bravery and honesty in leaving something that wasn’t working for you – sometimes it can seem easier to stay in the situation, hope it will get better, blame others. But no –you are not a victim but an adult ready to step up, evolve and take your life to the next level.

If you have a current challenge at work, or in any area of your life and you could benefit from an objective, no obligation, complimentary call, contact me via sarah-j.com.