How to disappoint others in order to be true to yourself

In business, you learn to say no to others. It’s part of leadership and it’s part of how the Universe steers the right people to the right projects. Saying no to work that isn’t right for you is a healthy part of professional integrity. People get disappointed, but hey, that’s business.

What’s much harder is disappointing people who matter to you personally.

You are under a ton of pressure to keep people happy. To make decisions that others feel right for you. Agents, lawyers, producers, investors, friends, family, partners. You have relationships with these people. Some are built on business and money, but they’re all built on trust. They claim they want what is best for you.

But what happens when what is best for you isn’t what they think it is?

Some of these people you can fire, but some of them you can’t. Some of them hold your sense of self-worth and esteem in their hands. Some of them hold your sense of purpose.

Everyone tells you that you are in charge and yet, so many conflicting forces pressure you that it feels as if you have very little say over anything.

It’s hard to change mid-course. It’s hard to declare that a relationship is no longer working. That you’ve changed.


You are allowed to change, love.

Not only allowed, but you are responsible to change. Because we all grow. We all outgrow our dreams (or our dreams outgrow us). We outgrow relationships. We outgrow versions of ourselves that used to define us, used to work, used to make us come alive.

And they just. don’t. anymore.

We outgrow other people’s definitions of us. And we’re complicit in allowing the illusions to continue. How many of us have known in our gut instincts that a relationship or job was no longer a good fit for us and we kept our mouths shut?

We allowed the other person or employer to think that everything was the same and believe the illusion that nothing would ever change?

I spent a good portion of my 12-year marriage keeping the illusion alive. Not intentionally, not to be hurtful, not knowingly dishonest. I was scared of what my inner knowings meant. Scared of what bringing those truths to the surface would mean.

We’ve all been there in some form or another. Until the truth becomes so loud within that we can’t keep silent anymore.

That’s the moment when we disappoint others.

We let them down. We break our promises and the illusion that our commitment, passion, relationship, feelings, what we claimed we once wanted were permanent.

You have to be willing to destroy untruths in order to live new ones.

You have to be willing to disappoint the people who love you in order to be true to your Self. 

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

-Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation

Faithless and therefore trustworthy. Trusted to be true to who we are.


Why does this matter so much?

We are born into this lifetime true to our Selves. Fully expressed incarnations of Spirit. One of our deepest needs for survival is not love, but to be real, to feel authentic, true.

When we don’t experience that, when there is disconnect between our authentic truths and our outward lives, we suffer. We lose our ability to fulfill our destiny callings. We don’t show up in the full power that authenticity creates.

This matters, love. It matters more than I can ever express to you.

You feel it in your soul. You know when you are moved by what is real and authentic. You sense how diminished you feel when you can’t be real.

The pressure of fame closes in on you and seemingly leaves you little space for any true transformation. There are huge amounts of energy suppressing you and disallowing you to deviate from other’s perceptions of who you are.


So how do you break free?

You get to a place where the inner pressure builds until it feels as if it’s a life or death situation.

Which, to your soul, it is.

Your truth equals life, you can’t get to what is next for you until you stand up for your Self and break the illusions.

You need to remember, too, that when you are aware that your truths no longer match up to what you’re living, the compassionate thing to do is to be honest about it.

People living in illusions of each other miss out on the potential of real connection and intimacy. The longer you stay with what no longer fits, the more you risk not finding what truly does.

Sometimes, we have to dream bigger and imagine more for ourselves than the best we have ever known.

Fear keeps us from setting ourselves free. We have to have the courage to let go of the known and familiar, of the limiting beliefs that try to convince us that staying is safer and the kind thing to do, and we have to believe that Something Incredible exists for us out there.


We also have to be able to tolerate being the one who breaks someone’s heart, changes someone’s life, alters the course of a business or project.

That’s not an easy thing for goodhearted people to do, but it’s necessary if you are to truly live and truly be You.

In my experience, the hardest part has been convincing myself that I have the right to change my life. I never doubted the rightness of ending my marriage, but I had to grow into my belief in my own worth to do so. Anytime you disappoint others, you become “the bad guy.” It’s really hard for nice people to become the bad guy.

But it’s necessary.

The true “bad guys” are those who know their truth and never find the courage to broach it, who live half-lives because they allow fear to make their decisions for them. Who allow others to live in illusions and never touch what is real.

You have the right and the mandate to change.

People aren’t going to like it. You may risk everything you’ve built because life is calling you to be something you weren’t up until now.

Listen hard to what your intuition is telling you. You won’t be able to ignore it without causing a lot of suffering in your heart. You HAVE to do what your inner truth is leading you to do. Even though it’s scary. There is no way out of this but through it.

What if your inner truth means completely changing your life?

When you get to a certain level of professional success, it becomes a self-perpetuating story. Our creative identities define us. Writer. Actor. Singer. Director. Musician. For most creatives, our central calling is where our gifts lie and so we stick to doing what we are gifted to do. But sometimes you need a change.

A big change. As in, I’m not going to do this creative work anymore.

Only you can know the status of your relationship with your creative calling. Do you still move into the flow when you’re doing it? Does it still make you feel most alive and satisfied? Are you continuing to work because it’s what you want to do or because it’s what is expected? Would you seriously quit altogether or do you need a thorough and complete break from it for some time? Are you tired with your calling or just plain tired?

Lifetimes are short, love. Now may be the time for you to look at the other things you always wanted to do and never did. People may or may not understand your reasons. Frankly, it’s none of their business.

And in all honesty, what feels like a major life decision to you with huge risk and uncertainties will just be a few hours of headlines in the media. People will move on. Immediately.

Which is all the more reason that you have to live your truths for You. Because you don’t move on. It matters to you.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
-Mary Oliver

Be You.