Give Yourself Permission to Disappoint {How to Have a Stress-Less Life week 3}

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Giving ourselves permission to disappoint ourselves and others frees us all to do what God has actually called us to!

I knew I had some really tough choices to make.

My plate wasn’t just full, it was overflowing. It was cracking under the sheer volume of stuff I’d continued to pile on top of it.

I was a hoarder; a chronic “yes” sayer.

It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t in tune with how much I could do, it was more of a fear that I’d disappoint someone by saying no, or I’d let them down.

I am, by nature, a pleaser. If you want to utterly break my heart, just say these words, “I am disappointed in you.” I almost will never get over hearing that.

I can’t stand to disappoint!

And yet, I knew that something had to give.

Either I would disappoint someone now by letting go of the majority of the responsibilities I was carrying, or I’d disappoint everyone when I had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t do anything at all.

It had truly come down to that!

My sanity now or my health later on.

It was a tipping point.

I sat down and made a list of every single responsibility I had in my life: from being a wife and mom to being a blogger and Bible study leader, to being a volunteer at my local church…I listed it all.

Then I took some time to reflect on what I felt the Lord had called my family to do. Not just me – yes, that was included – but my family.

Where are we going?

What’s our mission?

What’s our goal as a family?

[Tweet “We plan our summer vacations better than we plan our families.”]

When we go on a summer vacation, we mark our route, we plan our hotels and meals, we plan our stops to sight see and our destination.

But what about our family’s journey?

What is your destination? Where do you want to be as a family when your children are grown? What are you doing to get there? Are the choices you are making now helping you reach that destination, or are you just driving aimlessly down an unknown street hoping you will somehow arrive at your destination by pure chance?

Once I had a clear vision for our destination, I looked at my list of responsibilities and asked myself this question about each one: “Does this responsibility actively help me reach that destination or is it dead weight?”

If it was dead weight, it had to go.

But before I let it go, I had to do this one thing.

I had to give myself permission to disappoint myself and others.

In an attempt to please everyone around me, my plate was overflowing with other people’s visions and other people’s destinations. But where was mine?

Lost and forgotten down at the very bottom of the pile!

In essence, I was willing to disappoint God to please others.

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10

There are two kinds of expectations we meet in life:

Expectations of ourselves. If you are type-A, you likely have very high or impossible expectations of yourself. When you set a goal, you set it higher for yourself than you would ever set it for anyone else. We have to succeed….every time. No failure. And we have to succeed better than anyone ever succeeded.

This is a trap. It keeps us in a constant state of stress because of our zero-tolerance policy for ourselves.

When it comes to letting go of extra responsibilities, we often have to give ourselves permission to “fail” at pleasing others first. This is a very freeing activity. Once you realize that you are simply incapable of succeeding every time, you are free! You are free to disappoint others. You are free to walk away and not allow that disappointment to eat at you for days and weeks.

Does it bother you a little that someone was disappointed? Yes, and it should. We can’t walk through life calloused; but by bothering us, it doesn’t have to eat at us.

Expectations from others. It is natural that people have expectations of others. There are those who have a vision to fulfill a certain task and then there are those whose mission in life is to help others fulfill that task. These helpers derive incredible joy from doing what they do to help others. Their vision is similar and they have the capability to help others succeed.

The problem is when we don’t have the same mission or vision as the one who has placed an expectation on us. We don’t necessarily  have the capability to help them reach their desired destination and we don’t derive any joy from helping them reach their goal. But we take on the task because we feel pressure.

Not only is their expectation dead weight on us, we’re dead weight on them, too. We are unsatisfied in doing a task we were never meant to do, and they are frustrated because we lack the capability and drive to do what is expected of us.

The kindest thing we can do is to free ourselves to do what we’ve been called to do and free them to find the one who has been called to fill the role that will help them reach their goal!

When we look at expectations from this perspective, we realize that we’re not really disappointing someone by saying no to them, we’re freeing them to find the one who will serve them best!

We’re free to give our best yes to the task that God called us to, and they’re free to find the one whose best yes is meant for them!

This truth has set me free!

And as we are closing the chapter on 2015, I am amazed at what a difference one year can make. Only 365 days ago I sat here with clenched teeth, tensed shoulders, pulsating veins and giant cup of coffee to make it through my day.

Now I sit here with my feet up, a smile on my face, a heart at peace as I am satisfied because I am right where God wants me to be.

I am still serving others, but in the very role God cut out for me!

Where do you want to be on December 3, 2016?

What steps do you need to take to get there?

Dear reader, earlier this year I read the book “The Best Yes” by Lysa TerKeurst and it changed my life. I challenge you to read it and to take every word of every chapter to heart.

The book inspired me to make this printable – “My Decision Pathway”.

Get the My Decision Pathway printable form today!

I love this! I use this worksheet all of the time to help me decide if I need to say yes or no to an opportunity!


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Read other articles in the How to Have a Stress-Less Life by clicking the graphic below

We live in a driven culture from the time we're young until our health gives out. This writer answerst the questions "What is the root of stress" and "Where does stress come from". Here's how we can live a stress-less life!


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  1. I did the Best Yes study and I agree that it has been one of my filters in the past. Well I guess I guess there I times it is still there but I can recognize it and I know pause before making commitments to give only my best yesses.

  2. Wise words, Rosilind. I’m not one to want to disappoint others either, so I often do more than is healthy for me to do. I’m learning too…baby steps. Sounds like you’ve made great progress this year. Yay, you. 🙂 (((Merry Christmas)))

  3. Rosilind, this was such a great post! I am exactly like you, I do not want to disappoint others or myself. The Lord has worked a lot of that out of me, but admittedly it still rears its ugly head. Thanks for the reminder that God comes first above all. I loved your tweet as well. Tweeted it:)

  4. What a wonderful, rich post we all so need to hear! People pleasing isn’t authentic giving is it? We want to give from our hearts and to live our neighbors we have to sometimes say NO! This is one way weclive ourselves. Great post! Im new to your FB page!!

  5. Hi Rosilind,
    Such a great post! Giving that permission is so critical to our health – physical and mental! Trying to please everyone leads us into a pit. I can vouch for that! It took me into my 40s to get to the point of living that way! I also love Lysa’s book! Fabulous!
    Blessings and smiles,

  6. What a great post! And an important message. My last post (about a decision of whether to blog or not to blog) was somewhere along these lines. Are we working towards our ultimate missions? Was God first in my life? Family second? I had to rearrange my priorities and activities and YES – SAY NO to some things.
    Thanks Rosalind!

  7. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Perfect! Just what I needed! You’re exactly right: I’m called to my FAMILY! Knowing that helps saying no to more church responsibilities easier! Thanks for sharing your heart so we can be encouraged!

  8. Everything in me wants to just skim this post and go on, but truly, I do need to look at my own “yeses” and definitely say a few more “no’s” Thanks for your good thoughts during this busy season.

  9. I SO needed to read this post right now- for me, and for others I have out high expectations on. I am totally type A. While I am not clutching a cup of coffee, I am pushing myself way too hard lately. I need to take a step back and reevaluate. I love how you considered your family’s vision. Thanks for posting this! I will be mulling over it all day. Merry Christmas!

    1. Oh – I hope you’ll start giving yourself space. I know what it did to me…emotionally and physically…when i pushed too hard. And how it affected my family as well.

  10. Such encouragement through the lessons you have learned and the transparency with which you write, and minister, really blesses my heart. I was just having this conversation with my pastor the other day and the realization that the why of what we do and the how of what we do should be connected with the WHO we have made a choice to follow. Point blank, is there any other God besides the One true God, that influences my decisions? Yikes, the reality of that is pretty stark. Anything that takes place of serving Christ in my life has become an idol, aka ..a god, that can ultimately influence my decisions. Even the ones to say, ‘yes’, when I am not supposed to.
    I purchased Lisa’s book a while ago, but it still sits on my shelf, unread. I think it may be time to dust it off. 🙂


    1. Dawn – thank you so much for your encouraging comment. And what a question! Wow – that is truly convicting! I challenge you this year to read Lisa’s book. When I say it changed my life, I am really understating it. I wouldn’t be where I am right now had I not read her book.

  11. Oops, guilty on some of these points. 🙁
    We need to remember this. We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves and learn the lessons along the way.

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