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How to Stop Letting Other People Upset You

It happens to the best of us.  We find ourselves completely undone by someone else’s behavior.  It could be anything from someone cutting you off in traffic to your spouse cheating on you.  Mild to severe, other people’s actions can turn our world upside down.

I recently let myself get all caught up in someone else’s drama.  My boyfriend’s daughter was behaving in some ways I found unacceptable.  He was trying to rein her in; she was acting out more and more; we all went to counseling (I can’t tell you how many arguments, sleepless nights, and general fury on my part all this caused).  Suddenly, she decided to move in with her mother. As soon as she moved, poof – there was peace on earth.  No more drama, angst, or fury.  Is she still doing all the stuff we had problems with?  I’m sure.  But now it’s not my issue.  And you know what?  It never was.

Most of the things that you get upset about aren’t your issues.  The driver who cut you off?  Their driving is not your issue. All you need to worry about is getting safely to your destination.  That lazy co-worker who isn’t doing their share of the work?  Not your issue.  All you need to do is focus on your own good work.  Your cheating spouse?  Not your issue.  Your issue is why you would stay with someone who is cheating on you.

Some tips to help with this:

1. Realize you cannot control other people.  They are going to do the crazy, stupid, incorrect things they are going to do.  You can’t force them to do anything else.  You can’t force someone to stop being lazy or lying to you or cheating on you.  The only person you can control is you.  You get to decide how much you’re going to let this person’s behavior impact you.  Your worrying, obsessing, venting, etc. has zero impact on them – and only hurts you.

2. You have two choices – learn to live with the behavior or change your relationship to the person.  My boyfriend is not a planner – it’s just not his way.  This used to drive me completely insane.  I would constantly argue the importance of planning – that if you failed to plan, you planned to fail.  I was quick to point out occasions where his lack of planning cost him (I’m such a charmer!).  He finally told me that if I liked planning so much, I could just plan everything and he would gladly go along.  I finally accepted that I was never going to change him.  I can either make the plans, live with no plan, or find a new boyfriend.  But I’ll never make him a planner.

3. Examine your role in the behavior.  Did the driver ahead of you cut you off because you just started talking on your cell and slowed 20 MPH?  Did your teenager lie to you because the last time he told you the truth he was grounded?  Is your spouse cheating because you are on the road 358 days a year?  I’m not condoning any of the behaviors – I’m just asking you to look at the only person you can control – you.  Maybe you are playing a role and not even realizing it.

4. But realize it may have absolutely nothing to do with you.  I hate to say it, but this is more often the case.  We are all the center of our own universes.  Many times we think people are doing things because of us or to us and they aren’t.  The driver may not have even seen you.  Your teenager may lie just because he doesn’t want to be embarrassed.  Your spouse may be cheating for the thrill of it and still loves you (although they have a crummy way of showing it).

5. Don’t inadvertently enable the behavior.  Some people engage in their crazy behavior because the people around them encourage it.  If your spouse cheats on you, and you take them back and treat them better than before, can you blame them if they cheat again?  If your friend “borrows” money from you, and never repays it and you lend them more, can you blame them if they never repay that loan either?  I love Maya Angelou’s advice, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  I know you don’t think you’re enabling, you think you’re helping.  You think they will behave differently this time, that perhaps your love or kindness will change them.  I say to you – why are you trying to control them still?  Trying to change someone is trying to control them.

6. Let it go.  Think of whoever drives you crazy right now.  Get worked up – think of how they lie to you or how they don’t do their share or how selfish they are – whatever it is they are doing that drives you crazy.  Assume they will never change.  Ever.  Can you just let it go?  Is it really a minor thing you’ve been focusing on, making it major?  In the big scheme of things, my boyfriend’s nonplanning is just not that big a deal.  It’s offset by his kindness, patience, and wonderful good humor.  Can you focus on the good more than the bad?

7. Let them go.  Some behavior you just can’t let go of.  Sometimes there’s not enough good to offset the bad.  The best thing to do may be to let go of the relationship.  Why are you staying with someone who causes you so much upset and pain?  If you can’t let go of the relationship (say it’s a co-worker), can you let go of thinking so much about them?  I bet they aren’t spending so much time thinking about you.

8. Get help.  Can’t let it go or them?  Talk with a professional counselor – life is too short for all this drama.

9. What about kids?  Obviously when kids are little, you have to control them.  They might think running into traffic is a good idea and you should probably put a stop to that.  But as they get older, you’ll find that you need to alter your behavior to impact theirs.  Maybe they start to dress inappropriately.  You have several options – you can check out current fashion before you freak; you can yell and tell them they’re not going out like that (giving credibility to their attempt at rebellion); you can cut off the clothing allowance (controlling your behavior not theirs); or you can ignore it, knowing that sooner or later they will be embarrassed just like the rest of us and will fall in line.  And if you are sharing clothing with your children, know that the rest of us are trying to let it go.

The bottom line is that you can’t let the behavior of others steal your joy.  But if you do, it’s your choice.  Focus on being the best and happiest that you can be – that’s where your energy should go.  Set the best example you can and spend time and energy on people who lift you higher.  And remember, somewhere there’s someone out there who thinks YOU need to change!  Ha!

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Cheryl

I was mentally and physically abused (not sexually), I call myself the black goat. Luckly God always placed a surrogate family in my life, looking back that saved me. I have gone to therapists most of my life, which also vindicated me. Fast forward to 65. My son is in a band, I called up the venue to ask if they were playing indoors or out one afternoon…big deal…as it is cold. It was only going to be the two guitarists. I was told they could do either. I called the head of the band to ask him, and said… Read more »

jodikrepline

I have a problem with neighbors, and how they treat us. They were all once good to us, but that is not case, and you wonder how people get to be this way. People all they think of is themselves, and will do anything and everything to get there way. This problem is now going on 5 years. There is no joy in life, and I’m trying to focus on getting a better job due to financial reasons, and the boss also is just for himself. It is very hard to stay positive and when you wake up to remind… Read more »

Alfred hitchcock

I’ve never left a reply on an article before because I have never been moved enough to do so. This article puts things so bluntly simple and in plain sight. I’ve ignored behavior of someone who really upsets me because of fear for loosing them, but that as only led them to continue the behavior. It all starts with me, I accepted this behavior and in doing so have caused myself a great deal of unnecessary pain. It’s either settle for less then I deserve or be brave enough to continue on- not to settle. Thank you

Swapna

Hi Dennis, Thank you so much for this newsletter. I was really in a very bad mood as one of my colleague was literally dragging me in awkward situations. I have been patient not to react to him in any way. He somehow or other just try to find out some mistakes which I have not even done. I try to ignore his approach and let myself bother me. As for last day he was telling me my roommate was upset with my behavior for helping her out…(actually the room mate he was mentioning is like a dear friend who… Read more »

maxwell

thanks for these words of wisdom. the most important lesson i learnt here is that you cant control people. People will always do what they want even if you disapprove. but ofcourse the only other person i have control over is me.

uday kature

im going through real hard time in life. im 21 of age. and i dont know whats wrong. i keep trusting people. and then keep hopes expectations from them and then few things happen whuch seems small but worth thinking and then i fell that people dont care. they do show up at times. but then they dont….. all here are selfish and slef centered.. if i try and give me one thousand percent why cant i expect atlst 50 percent of love…. in return. im not dating anyone…. butnall this happens with me all the time. with my friends…..… Read more »

Cheryl A Raymond

I just happened to find this site, I am completely blown away at what I am reading! It is like I have found my other half because I have learned these lessons and dragged myself out of HELL since birth. I am sad that so many more lost souls will go without the life saving tools provided here and through simple groups because they are not promoted or provided by medical and mental health professionals due to the lack of recognition of success in today’s society. I have a blog outlining the same life skills on this wonderful site however… Read more »

Tina

I hope my friend reads this and learns something. I want her to be happy. She controls everything and everyone around her. It has ruined our friendship. I had to step away for myself. So much in this article could help her and I hope that it does.

Nishat Biranjan

Yeah its right. We do get affected by people’s behaviour..and the last thing is that we get hurt…nothing else. From this post..I have realised..that to be happy…I gotta let it go…Let them do what they want and live my life on my rules.

Delilah

First off, I want to let you know that I loved this article; it really resonated with me. However, I am having trouble letting go of the man I know I should. I have been in an on again off again relationship with my children’s father for over 13 years now. Our first child is 10 and now we also have a 9 month old baby. We’ve always had an immense passion for each other and I’ve always believed him to be the man I am meant to be with. We got back together in January of 2016 (I ended… Read more »

Ann

Thank you so much for your comments. I already know I need to stop focusing on what others do & I can’t control their behavior. I just needed validation I supposed. Thank you so much!! I just need to let it go already!!!!!!!!!!!!

Carl D.

Amen,Thank you, I needed that!

Jeannine

Hi… I’m glad I read your thoughts on how to stop people from getting me upset (mad) I made a choice to let that person know on how I feel and expect respect from others , I’m not controlling but I refuse that kind of behavior towards me, I’m 59 and I no longer can tolorate it, I choose to ask the person to leave.

Tanesha j

My boyfriend is a really good guy he just has a really rude way of saying things when he is set in his way an I know he doesn’t intentionally try to be this way its just his strong dominate nature an I really want to stop taking it personal for my own well being because its worry’s me so much sometimes

Malathi

So well said..Actually i can’t bear the odd hypocritic mentalities of people around me and it keeps on haunting me in my mind,”Why like that”..But it’s so unnecessary as it is depriving me of my focus on goal through killing my time and thought

Melissa

This was just what I needed to hear. From now on I am going to work on myself for myself. I now realise that they dont deserve to see me upset or cause me so much pain.

Billy J

In high school I have a small group if friends that I am only friends with so that during some lessons I am not alone because I dislike every one else in the class. Recently they have been really rude and have bben shunning me and my best friend. What should we do? I am afraid to tell a teacher or counsellor because I don’t want to be alone during class, this just suddenly happened and they are being really cruel. I want to resolve it myself without adult interference. I am worrying so much and don’t want to get… Read more »

Sara

My daughter (whom) I am very close to refuses to communicate to me. I am afraid of being to close each time when I think its safe to come out she hurts my feeling so bad my behavior is eratic.

Memh

Sooner or later I won’t have to keep dealing with my roommate cause we will go out separate ways but I’m really trying to not let her pettiness bullshit effect me anymore. Sometimes I wish I was dumb so I didn’t know that she does shit on purpose. Its so bad that I literally roll my eyes anytime she walks in the room I’m in. We uncomfortably ignore each other (i did try at first) and I can’t wait until we can ignore each other comfortably but I really just gotta stop giving this witch power. Thanks for the advice

David

i have been married 18 years, my moral compass has been violated by my wife who i have known since the age of eleven. i have lost everything and and yet i still cant let go, which i should have done many years ago..im heartbroken, im lost, alone and isolated from all that i am accustomed to and know. i know that i need to let go, but i feel so fiercely violated that im not sure this feeling will ever subside or leave me. I know what i should be doing by way of my emotions and where i… Read more »

Sruthi

Awesome.. Now a days I am letting everyone’s behavior steal my joy. Life is too short for all this drama I like it.. Thank you for sharing the post.

CR

Didn’t read the comments, but the post is great. Exactly what I felt like reading, thanks!

jayvien

i understand 100%.. teachers and substitutes be pissing me off you know everybody has feelings!!!
im just try not to get and take over me im try just to stay positive..

Alex

Denise…many, many thanks for your kind and considered reply, I appreciate this so much. It has taken me a little while to process everything you said and let it land on me. A lot of it is very hard to accept, because you are absolutely right, I can see now that my relationship with my father, and mother for that matter, is what I have been repeating with EVERYBODY else for all of my life. I can’t believe it. Therapists have always asked about my relationship with my dad and I have been dismissive and annoyed with that question, and… Read more »

Ranga

Hey Denise,

I felt very good after reading the article and finally the damn truth which you meant “somewhere there’s someone out there who thinks YOU need to change! Ha!” Thats well said. Whenever i feel let down i will definitely read your article. My situation is am surrounded by a huge crowd of friends yet feeling so lonely, whom i think are my closest friends does not even mind me. i mean my co-workers.

Thanks alot once again,

Ranga

Alex

Dear Denise, Your article is brilliant and I read every other thing on this whole page and I love it all. Thank you for posting and sharing and helping your fellow humans to progress and expand and just downright feel better. I appreciate this very much! However, I haven’t seen a situation quite like mine, as you said, family get us the most, they know how to push all our buttons because we love them so much. My dad fell on his head in to a concrete cellar three years ago (alcohol) just when he retired and he was changed… Read more »

Jane Smith

And when you are being harassed and bullied and it doesn’t stop? None of this helps. Sorry! Human bitches (men or women)need to know when to stop gnawing on the bone.

This is amazing and im so glad ive found it. My only problem is that im a severe sufferer of anxiety and i know that I have to let go. I find it so difficult to put this into practice because despite the 1 million horrible things my partner has done to me he will constantly tell me that no one else will want me because I nag too much. But my nagging is not an action its a reaction. He says im not his mother so I cant tell him what to do yet im working, doing his assignments… Read more »

Calla Tyrrell

Thank you for the information. I am a freshman in college and my drama is coming from some girls who live on my hall. I actually share a bathroom with one of them and she is also my best friend’s ex-roommate. My best friend moved out two months ago because she couldn’t stand the drama anymore. Since she has moved out, they have transferred the drama to half of our friend group. I try to see the best in everyone but right now it is doing harm to my emotional self to do that. I have lived like this for… Read more »

Jen

This was some much needed advice. I am in a difficult situation and I need to start letting things go for my own sake. Really good article I am going to save it and re-read it as a reminder. Thank you!

Hazel

This weekend my landlord’s girlfriend confronted me about a bill her boyfriend had and said it was my responsibility to pay it (its a large house with rented out rooms). I obviously said no only to have her and another room mate who I considered a friend gang up on me, they’re now hellbent on making my life a living hell. It seems as though my landlord has gotten himself into some trouble financially so I’m guessing they devised a plan to make me pay for this. It’s not so much the lying I think it was the deception that… Read more »

Christine

Hi there
I thoroughly agree with all you have said and need to let some stuff go and also walk away from a relationship. My problem is, they are my OH family. And he is upset that I want to cut all ties. Me only not my kids, which is hard because its their lack of communication with kids that has escalated it from a tense situation to an unbearable one (for me).

Tara

I know that this was written quite a while back but I’m so happy that I found this!
I tend to hold on to people’s negative comments and let them affect me long after they should.
I am trying to remind myself that people can only tear me down if I let them and I don’t need to waste my time and energy dwelling on mean and hurtful comments.

naomi

I gave a close friend a shoulder to lean but later realized some few issues that pissed me of..I sacrificed all what I can but the person didn’t care any more. I feel so hopeless about it.please assist me to let it go and move on with my li

Jules

This was helpful, thanks. I have been told that I care too much so I proberbly need to let go. I have a co worker who is aggressive and has a reputation for this, she has now been given a supervisory role and people protect her. I just don’t get it. But reading your article has helped I need to let go and be the best I can be. They create enough drama for the world anyway.

Suzanne Francella-Traitz

Wow! Some real fabulous advice here, and just what I needed to read/hear. I tend to allow the opinions of people who do not really matter to me in my life, matter. In reading that they’re likely not thinking of me, makes me realize that I’m doing it to myself. I’m allowing their actions and opinions to rent space in my brain. I’m wasting precious time and energy focusing on them, when I can honestly say, they do not matter to me, and quite frankly k do not like them, so why care. I need to allow people to not… Read more »

Tiffany

It’s hard letting go of things, I just can’t let things go

Alice

Thank you for this always let people get to me now I can take your advice ☺️

Anon

This article is very useful. I’m having trouble not reliving my upset. I have one situation where I just can’t get past. I really want to. What do you do when a close relationship (inlaw) has become toxic? My husband has decided to cut ties with them. I feel bad about it. I also support him, and in some ways, I think I feel relieved. I also think about the fact that they are his parents, and I also think about our kids.

Sally lewis

Thanks for this it really helped. my husband is an alcoholic and I am going through some really life-changing events. I’ve never been with an alcholic and never been married it’s even harder been stressed all day over him and he says he doesn’t want to quit drinking. I just don’t know what to do all I do is stress out all day over this and wish that he would consider my feelings and what I have to do all day without a functioNBLE husband..Again thanks for the article.

SashaG

I came upon your article…and I am so glad I saw it and read it. It has out me in a place of peace. I had some issues with my step child. no matter what I did…she did not acknowledge me or appreciate me. Every time I corrected her or try to guide her…I was shun. Always with her father/ my husband being unsupportive. I just let it go and accepted that they won’t change. I’m much happier. Thanks

Frances

I’ve done a lot of work in my life. I had a bad upbringing and it took me 9 years of therapy to forgive my family for various issues involving abuse and neglect. I know that forgiveness is about me, not them and I practiced this for years. Because of depression, I was alone for 18 years. When I turned 45, I decided I wanted to date again, find a man to share my life with. I felt ready emotionally, strong mentally and I had all of my ducks in a row. I’ve been with my bf for 3 years.… Read more »

Fendi

Thank you so much for this, I stay with my brother and his girlfriend and everytime I feel bad because when I do the house chores I do it with luv but if I make just a little mistake my brother shouts or comments about it … But doesn’t really yell at his girlfriend , I always feel bad but I am trying to let go of all the hurt and just believe that he loves his girlfriend more than me and he can’t treat me exactly the way he treats her… So thanks for the words … It helped… Read more »

Steve

I work with people that like to put you down,make fun of you,belittle you and laugh at what you may think is important to you personally. How do you deal with a person like that when you have to since you work with them. These people i do not like. All they do is brag about themselves and belittle people behind there back to me. How do I try to work with them and stay sane !

Dee

Thank you for publishing your wise words. I have a daughter who uses drugs and is unstalbe. I am her baby’s legal guardian. It’s been a huge challenge to the heart and soul to accept that she must make the decisionj to get help and that I cannot live her life and make her want to change. She has stolen from me and lied to me many times. The most difficult part at this point is to not be dismantled every time she texts or calls me. I rarely answer now because she inevitable becomes oppositional and disrespectful or just… Read more »

BrownSuga

I am a 40 year old christian woman, that I feel life is going down hill fast. My issue is I am trying to change my boyfriend of 5 years into someone that i know he will never be. I have taken as much as I can but i still do not know how to walk away and not look back. I love him but I am not in love with him like I once was. Some of the issues that we are having I did bring upon myself, but i was just trying to get his attention. But i… Read more »

Shubh

Needed this so bad! Thanks so much.

Jill

I’m dating someone I work with, we’re both managers. My issue is that my boyfriend speaks to women that despise me and that have fabricated lies about me. These same women have spoken poorly about him yet he still speaks to them. I believe in being professional at work but in engaging in personal conversations is where I draw the line. I honestly feel betrayed as if there is no loyalty on his end.

Liz

Thanks for the great perspective and for everyone sharing! I am having a similar experience as Emma (someone refusing to contact me) so I am working to devote my energy into something more positive than wondering what I did wrong. It’s tough but also forcing me to make a decision that will ultimately bring me more peace. Hopefully!

I can’t change other people, but I can change myself.

Rosa rose

Its harder said than done. Certain things are just not easy to let go. Especially if you are young and in the house with someone who’s not your even parents , whos really TRIpolar , constantly just talking so much crap to you and always having attitudes even when you haven’t done anything I swear I hate her with a passion and the only thing that can change is if I get my own place which is when I turn 18 next year