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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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My stepdad has never shown that he cares for me. And I don’t want to sound bad but he always finds something to get me in trouble for. No matter what I do it’s not good enough. He never rewards me for my effort or for how much I tried but looks at what I didn’t do. He has anger management issues and instead of talking he starts yelling. And this really bothers me. I try so hard to not get upset but it’s really hard not having a father figure. Sorry about making it long I just needed to… Read more »


I have this woman at my job who always seems to get under my skin at any given time. I tried many things to let her not get to me i.e. ignoring her, talking to my bosses about the problem, etc. but it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I remember they had a chat with her and how she was affecting the rest of mine and my coworkers job by her constant complaining and putting blame on me and just overall making a not-so-complicated job, actually complicated. It’s taken a serious toll on me over the course of my… Read more »

backed in a corner

Great article! I am involved in a relationship that is a little, um dysfunctional. I love this man but he’s an alcoholic, a functioning alcoholic, he says. He has been like this for the past 6 years that we’ve been together. Sadly, he promised that he would do better, and after a long bout of succeeding, I married him. Sadly, he quickly reverted to his old self. But the worse part is that he has 4 children, 2 (21 and 20)which suffer from the same addictive personalities. One, not only has an addictive personality, but also is bipolar-depressive and lies… Read more »

katie newman

lately this person has really been bothering me. this person is close with a lot of my friends so i hang around with them a lot. but they seem to not like me and love to make it very known by literally telling me “ your my least favorite in the whole group.” i’ve never done anything to them and i have been really nice but i just don’t know what the problem is. it always bothers me when someone doesn’t like me for no reason. and i have been thinking about this a lot. i don’t know how to… Read more »

Hilary A Hein

I met this woman who is in a group of friends that my husband and I met.Its been about 6 months now. This woman, was very quick to start socializing with my husband and really didnt show much interest in getting to know me. I have been working weird hours, so not always able to attend events. She walked up to me and started talking to me about what a joy my husband is, and how she enjoys so much talking to him. I am not normally a jealous person, and just thought she was trying to be nice. Then,… Read more »


Hello! My name is Mac and I have a dilemma. I have a sister in law who is married to my husband’s brother. We have never really gotten along but recently I got married and she never even congratulated me at my wedding or anything. Also, I find out a couple days later from my husband’s younger sister she made my husband’s brother ask if she was still the favorite daughter in law. Now I honestly have never tried to “compete” to be the “better” daughter and law and frankly I could care less where I stand with my Husband’s… Read more »

Loretta Murphy

This is such a nice article! It made me feel better. Thank you for writing it. I am going to try to read it as often as possible.


I have this problem with my sister. I actually think it’s my entire family. She has the most uncontrollable anger issues of any person I’ve met. My entire family and now my boyfriend and I totally have to walk on eggshells around her because we know what sort of monster she can turn into. When she’s upset with you she will say the nastiest things and she doesn’t even care that she’s saying these things to her sister, her mom or her dad. And now that I live with her and my boyfriend alone I get all of her aggression… Read more »


I am living with my aged mother who is very miserable daily and in need of help with shopping tidying laundry etc all of which I don’t mind except the misery does drag me down because it’s a daily thing, she forget it upsets me to listen to her like that but it never stops, i am trying meditation and sometimes that helps but am sure not a master of that…yet anyway(she has been to docs and the only thing they give her is high blood pressure tablets which we are both on…..)

Iggy Green

I live next door to a nuisance renter he makes me sick! he won’t clean his yard and tries to destroy my home by letting shrubbery grow into my fence, he has brought rodents to the neighborhood and he doesn’t work and refuses to do any maintenance to stop my complaints! he says its not his house. I am constantly sweeping leaves off my porch from his gutterless house and run off stopping up my back drain! I have PTSD and my happy days are always stopped by some trash in front of my yard…or something. Everyone says I should… Read more »

Unknown Student

So I was in class and I was doing my work minding my own business and one of my friends comes over, spits her CHEWED starburst out and puts it inside my laptop and closes it. I was so mad so I grabbed her phone to get her to clean my laptop, but she grabs my planner and threatens to rip it! So later I went and cleaned my laptop but it starts acting up and DELETES.ALL.MY.WORK!!!! When I cleaned up her disgusting starburst I put it on her desk and she throws it somewhere and at the end of… Read more »


one colleague is really impacting me..i am afraid what she will think of me .what she will say about me. even though it was said by team she should work in particular task by team im afraid she will think i only said team to say her to do that work. im afraid she will blame for all these things.even though im not related to it my manager .even though he is pointing to whole team.it feels like he is pointing me and scolding me.most of the time, especially if they pointout that colleague it really frustrates me .. because… Read more »


Omg I need this , since mid July me my man an his mother’s world has been revolving around 1 person my mans younger sister we all live in a house together her 2 small children live here as well everything was great we all just moved into this nice new house it so much better than were we just came from an every thing going great an then in July my man sister got wit this guy who is trouble he has bad back round been arrested for tons stuff like robbery, Burglery, theft, credit card fraud, malicious destruction… Read more »

Megan Ward

I needed to hear this. My boyfriend of 5 years always says he’ll be home right after work only to call me 30 min to an hour later and be at his friends. I know he’s there, I know he’s not cheating or anything like that, but he’ll say things like “I can’t wait to get home” or “I’m only stopping by Erics for a minute I don’t even feel like hanging out” and then he’s home 3 hours later barley responding to my texts and I’m so upset and frustrated because all I’m doing for some reason is waiting… Read more »

iggy green

Hello Megan I think after work you go to a zumba class or yoga these classes have a great sisterhood to them and great for networking! next thing you know you will be out to dinner with friends or going to Walmart with a zumba sister or going out for drinks. I think you want maybe relying on his company when he comes home and he is afraid to come out and say he is stopping past a friend’s house so he plays that stupid game each time! and you could say NO bring your ass home lol.

Lynn Q

Hello- My sister is toxic and I can say this without guilt or sadness.Twenty years of manipulation, lies and zero empathy for anyone in her life(kids included). The last straw happened yesterday and I have been looking for words to let the pain go. She moved in with my older, ill mother and now my mothers lashed out at me. She’s even changed her will and put my law breaking sister in charge. I can let that go and I can let her go, but my mom.That hurts. That’s tough. And so i hold onto pain(which turns to anger) and… Read more »


I am a planner but I am also someone who will let another person decide on something if they like. My opinion is not really important as long as peace is kept I am happy.


Lately people know exactally what gets on a person’s nerves. People that would usually let it go have people forcing them to tell them how they feel. I feel angry not because of what happened but because I let it go and someone else has to keep pushing something that probably does irriatate me a little.


Okay – here’s one for you. I just got put on notice at work because of complaints against me. I am horrified! I thought things were going so well. I’ve hear nothing but good (except for the one issue at camp this summer). And now this. So, one of the issues, I’ve been told, is my tone. Now, I know that when working with kids, when I give them instructions, I want them to listen and not have to repeat myself. Never works – so then I lose my temper (get short with them) when I have to repeat myself… Read more »


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 »


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


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 »


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 »


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.


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 »


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!


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


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


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 »


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.


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


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 »


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.


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


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..


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 »


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,



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 »


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!


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 »


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).