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Making Decisions That May Hurt or Disappoint Someone You Care About

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Making decisions that hurt of disappoint someone you care about is never easy.

As I write this, we have just started a new year. Often, when we enter into a new year, we have new goals, new desires, wants, and resolutions.

Within any of those, it requires us to make decisions. Sometimes, oftentimes, most of the time, those decisions will be different than what they were in the past. They may be difficult. And sometimes, they challenge the status quo, not just in your own life, but in someone else’s. 

It can be very difficult to make a decision for yourself that hurts someone else, or causes them emotional discomfort. If you are deeply a people pleaser, you will sacrifice your own happiness to not hurt someone else, which creates resentment and you end up hurting them anyway. 

If you are, or have been struggling to make a decision because it might hurt someone else, this share is for you. I see you, I feel you, because I am just like you. I don’t want to cause anyone emotional discomfort, but what I have learned is that I need to be a part of that anyone and not hurt myself either. 

So often we stay in something that is causing us pain because we don’t want to suffer ourselves, or because we don’t want someone else to suffer. The easy thing for me to say to you is, whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s to make yourself happy. But, that is not always easy, which is why I think this conversation is important to have.

Let’s work with this idea that whatever decision you have to make, it is being made with the intention that it is for your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. 

Here’s the tricky part that makes this entire process so difficult. Sometimes you have to go through pain and discomfort on your decision-making journey. It isn’t always, most often not, a direct connection from point A (sadness) to point B (happiness) because there are a lot of emotions that become obstacles along the way. That is 100% normal and part of the process. 

What is difficult isn’t the decision; it is the temporary emotional discomfort that the decision will cause you, and/or another.

For example, let’s use ending a relationship (personal or professional) where the other person doesn’t want it to end. 

Let’s start with a personal relationship. 

You don’t end a relationship, especially one where you love the other person, but it doesn’t work for you anymore, without going through ebbs and flows of emotional discomfort. Just because you know it’s right for you to leave doesn’t meaning ending it and leaving is easy. Easy comes later, but it’s not really easy, it’s EASE & PEACE, because once you’ve journeyed through the emotional discomfort, you get to a deep knowingness that you made the correct decision. All the doubt goes away and you feel at peace.

Your heart is, and always will be, your truest, most trustworthy guide. Even though I know that, I also know that the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing because to get to the place where you feel peace and ease, what you know is correct for you, the place your heart is leading you, might temporarily hurt someone you love and respect, including yourself. Which makes the process emotionally and mentally challenging. 

I say temporary to let you know that they will be okay, and so will you. In time, they, and you, will go through all the human emotions and come out on the other side where peace and ease reside. 

Think of every single break up you have ever experienced. You felt like dying at first. You couldn’t eat, you couldn’t sleep, and then one day, like magic, you were eating, sleeping and living again. 

In a professional relationship, they might be hurt, disappointed, or angry that you are leaving, which is totally normal, but they will also be okay. They will hire someone else, and one day, all parties involved come to that same place of peace and ease that it was in fact the correct decision. Even though it was temporarily challenging and/or stressful to go through. 

Does knowing all of this make it easier? Yes and no. It is good to know what to expect, but I know that you don’t want to hurt anyone, or disappoint anyone. The truth of the matter is, it is not your job to make someone happy. You don’t have to kick them while they are down, but you don’t need to lay yourself down and sacrifice your own happiness to save them emotional discomfort. That is not your job. 

Affirmation: “it is not my job to sacrifice my own mental, emotional or physical wellbeing to prevent someone else from experiencing emotional discomfort.” 

I’ll share a story of a decision my husband and I made that impacted our closest friends and family. 

We got asked if we wanted to take a really great opportunity in another province. It was wonderful for us, but some of our friends and family members had a difficult time getting on board with our decision because it was so far away. 

Everyone was sad to see us go, and so were we, but those select few weren’t just sad, they also didn’t express happiness for our happiness at this new experience. They shut down, and in doing so, shut us out. 

Knowing that they felt this way, we still made the decision to go. We also made the decision to go even though we were feeling sad because we knew in our hearts that we wanted to try this opportunity out and that those who unconditionally loved us, would always be a part of our lives. Distance wouldn’t change that, it would simply take more effort to connect and we wouldn’t see each other as often. 

My husband and I held onto to our hearts desire and the feeling that we really wanted to say yes to this new experience, while taking the sadness along for the ride with us. 

The relocation was challenging at the beginning. I cried, I wanted to go back, I felt frustrated, I had moments of loneliness and sadness. I had all the big feels. Overtime, I made new friends, found my rhythm, started enjoying being a tourist in a new province and the sadness, loneliness and frustration faded. In fact, it turned into something so magical – I couldn’t imagine never having made the decision to relocate  because I loved it so much. 

So you see, the emotional discomfort was temporary. For all parties involved. Our friends loved it when we came to visit because they got so much of our attention and time. Our family felt the same way as well, and they now had a new place to come visit us and explore. It was really very special. 

I know that this feels like a heavy topic, but I promise, a concrete filled truck of heaviness gets lifted when you begin to make decisions from a place that supports your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Easy? Not always. Usually never. Worth it? Absolutely! 

Below are some ways you can prepare yourself to make the decision and have a conversation with the person who it might affect. I highly recommend writing it all out so that you can really gain the clarity you need and see and feel the whole picture. 

1. Starting at the very beginning, what’s a decision you know you have to, or want to make, but it feels difficult because it might cause someone else emotional discomfort? 

2. What temporary emotional, mental or physical discomfort will you probably experience?

Meaning, what are all the emotions, the big feels, that could come up for you? Is it anger, confusion, sadness, anxiety, doubt, guilt? Being prepared for it will help you so much because you will be able to claim your feelings and know they are very normal. 

You can check out this past blog post for more support on how to move through your emotions in a supportive way. Emotional Scale Practice

3. For the challenging decisions, who will be your support system? 

If you know you will do better with support, get them lined up and ready. You don’t have to do it alone. You are going to need them to keep your emotional and mental muscles strong. Consider them your decision making coaches, keeping your head, and your heart, in the game.

4. Prepare for the conversation you are going to have once you are ready to make the decision. 

If you are worried about how the other person will react, or feel, this will help you prepare, but also to help you speak from a place of confidence, patience, and compassion. You have had time to prepare for this decision, they haven’t, so their initial reaction may not be what you prefer, or expected. Give them time to catch up. 

Having meaningful conversations, especially the difficult ones, can bring up defensiveness in the other person, and in yourself. This of course can stop the conversation in its tracks or make you afraid to even have it because you don’t want to risk an argument. 

It’s essential for the growth of your relationship, and your own wellbeing, to have the conversation, even at the risk of emotions coming up to the surface. Feelings are normal. Emotions are not to be feared. Crying is also permitted and very natural. 

As you have more open and honest conversations, you will learn how to ask for what you want or talk about what’s not working without the defensive barriers coming up. 

During the preparation phase, get clear about what the root is. What is the decision you want to make, and why? This is all that matters. You don’t have to justify your decision, get into long stories, and you don’t have anything to prove. 

This is what I want… 
And this is why I want it…
This is how I have been feeling…
This is how the decision will make me feel…

Simple is better in these situations and that is easier to do when you do some self-reflection and get clear about why you are making this decision.

Now you are ready to go into the conversation with your intent, your request, your ask, the decision you are going to make, and/or what you need in order to move forward. 

Don’t be afraid of all the big feels coming up. Your feelings matter just as much as theirs. Go into it with the intent that you don’t want to fight, you want to be heard and the other person should be given the same respect and also time to process what you just told them. 

And remember, you are not responsible for what they hear; you are only responsible for what you say, how you say it, and for how you feel. Show them compassion, express that you don’t want to hurt them, but you have to do this for you. You might have to say it multiple ways so it resonates with them and they get it. That is why the preparation phase is so helpful. 

This is easier to do when at least one of you have your defence systems down, and since this is your conversation and your decision, go into the conversation as calmly, lovingly, compassionately, and respectful as possible. 

I hope this will help you to make a decision that you know is correct for you, but might hurt someone else. You’ve got this. Once you begin to make decisions that come from your heart, honor your values, needs and desires, you will feel confident, strong, courageous and mentally and emotionally free from always sacrificing your own happiness for everyone else. 


Supportive Resource: Strengthening Your Inner Guidance System (Digital Workshop)

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© 2014 Contagiously Positive
All rights reserved
Website by Monolith Digital