Have you ever had an offer of help from a trusted co-worker, volunteer or friend when you were in need, but they didn’t follow through? These people mean well at the moment and aren’t purposely trying to make things harder for you, but they do because something important isn’t getting done! Worse, when these people abandon you, they leave you with stressful feelings of resentment, anger, and disappointment.
So, what can do you to deal with it and move forward in your relationships with these people in a healthy way? Here are five things to remember so that you can protect yourself from further harm, regain some trust and also maintain your peace.
Avoid making assumptions
With a break in trust, we feel betrayed and hurt and sometimes regret counting on others in the first place. The truth is we will never fully know what is going on with someone else’s thoughts or motives. When we avoid making assumptions, it’s easier to stop ourselves from forming resentment and anger at the person or situation. If you decide to ask another favor of that person, then be sure to protect yourself. Offer to lighten the load if you think they would struggle with the request. And make sure you are not naive about your expectations. If they let you down in the past without a good explanation, then it’s quite likely this could occur again.
Open up the communication channels and let them know how you feel
Reach out to share your feelings with those you care about. If you want the relationship to become more mutually satisfying, be willing to talk about the hard issues. If you don’t tell someone that what they are doing hurts your feelings, how would they know? Give them the benefit of the doubt until you hear their side of the story. Remember that everyone is dealing with their own “stuff” as best they can, just like you are. Be sure to confront the issue without demonstrating anger or resentment so that the other person doesn’t get defensive and can be fully aware of your feelings. Once you hear their story, let them know that you feel unimportant when they say they will commit to something but never actually show up or follow through. Overall, protect yourself first and maintain the relationship second.
Let this situation go and accept the other person for where they are
If people don’t behave the way you want, need or expect, even if you trusted them, you are adding to your stress if you continue to waste time trying to contact them or convincing them to follow through with their offer of help. Stop and move on. The time you spend trying to get to them is time that could be better spent addressing the problem at hand. We can’t control others or force them to be in integrity, nor can we expect them to suddenly change. If we also do not expect future outcomes, it is so much easier to accept the disappointment. You have the choice whether to allow others to hurt you or allow them to trigger negative feelings. Once we stop taking things personally, we can still maintain our peace even when others disappoint us.
Review your investment in the relationship
If this behavior is a pattern in your relationship, and this person lets you down on many occasions, you might seriously consider setting a new boundary. If you must work with this person or they are family members, try to keep your distance in an even-handed way. If you are close and have trusted this person, you can let them know that if they wish to maintain a mutually satisfying relationship with you, it is their responsibility to follow through with their promises. You are still able to continue the relationship even though the dynamic has shifted and it will verify the importance of the association for you both.
Be proactive, start working on alternatives, and let go
The best way to take your mind off of your disappointment in those you have trusted is to find another way of getting the help you need. If you have made your feelings known and nothing has changed, then it is time to let go and move on. Regardless of who the person is, it is never alright to stay in a relationship that causes you emotional distress. Ultimately, you teach others how you want to be treated by setting firm boundaries and knowing when to move on. It’s time to evaluate those who continually let you down. Then you can decide what you are willing to accept in those relationships.