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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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savannah

im in a very complicated relationship, he is diagnosed with bipolar disorder so it adds a little bit of problems. I think its me messing up, I have been F*cked over so much in my life its hard to trust, same with him. I promised I wouldnt leave him and i love him, i really do. him and my best friend and went behind my back then started talking. I think im the problem. I need help, i have nowhere to go nor anyone to talk too. I am a teen so i know that will change the way you… Read more »

Heather

I enjoyed this article and I 100% agree that we can’t change someone else’s behavior, we can only change the way we react to it. I have distanced myself from my sister-in-law (whom I used to be close with) because of her persistent need to “one-up” me. Multiple things have happened over the years that I let slide, but things got much worse when we went into the same business and became competitors. The under-handed behavior of her and her husband has caused a lot of friction within the family. They are known for saying “It’s nothing personal, it’s just… Read more »

Jason

Hey so I’ve actually had a mutual friendship with someone to the point (yes opposite sex) as we decided to treat each other like brother and sister but here’s another thing, she recently called me all the things her by is actually, who also has gotten her influenved to do bad things, and to indirectly treat me like shit (mainly cuz he startedpraising me instead of her to try and get her to be pitted against me) it worked and now she hates my guts but she knows who I really am before her dbag bf who “she’s never had… Read more »

Martha193

I am currently dealing with a very complicated situation. My fellas sister gives me a very hard time and enjoys making me feel small and awkward by saying things about my fellas ex girlfriend who they have a child with. Me and her have never had bad words, I would even say we are friends, but I have to keep my mouth shut because I know she’ll enjoy a negative reaction. I feel sick and dread going into work because she’s there! Just trying to remind myself that I can not control her, and she must be very unhappy herself.… Read more »

Anonymous

I googled what to do if you are angry at your best friend and i m so happy this came up because one of my best friends constantly ditches me for other people and when she is with me she complains about those other people and my other best friend is stealing my other friends and when I stop hanging out with them she ditches them so now I rarely see any of my friends and I feel extremely lonely.What should I do?

Another Star

Firstly, what a wonderful article full of wisdom and insight. Secondly, I am utterly impressed with how professional, dedicated and selfless you are. Your no nonsense, direct and honesty advice is refreshing. Thank you! I am in a musical quartet at school. One of the members, as well as having many wonderful qualities can be very controlling, has very high expectations, can be manipulative, egotistical, defensive, rude and dismissive. She is a very warm and caring human being and has some fabulous qualities but the other behaviours are grating on me. She is very good at getting things done. At… Read more »

Steve

Lazy co- worker that thinks its ok to just let me do all the work and then gets upset when I say something about it. I have a hard time not getting things done so I work extra hard to do things to get it completed and also stresses me out. I have A boss that doesn’t care who does it as long as the work gets done. I need to print out your information to keep with me when I get upset I do not think about what you have stated when pissed off. Maybe keeping this with me… Read more »

bobross

1v1 them on fortnite

Linda Nelson

Hello: I am so happy that I found your site. I have been crying for weeks. My grown daughter and I get along well, live together, bought a home together. We travel have a lot of fun. then out of the blue she will say, “Your weird, I hate you, your crazy, shut your fu–king mouth don’t talk to me. I am internalizing the words, and its killing me. I cry for days, stay in bed, feel hopeless, want to die, don’t want to be around anyone ever. Words are like hot coals burned into your brain and they never… Read more »

Derek

Wow, I just googled “How to let nothing bother you” because my wife does so many things, whether intentionally or not, that leave me feeling worthless, angry, or depressed. I get offended by the smallest slights (Her pulling away when i touch her, not letting me know when she’s on the way home, not calling me like I call her during the day just to say “hi”) – ever little thing builds my angry and resentment more and more. Time to start focusing on myself, and I guess just ignoring her behavior, but it’s just so difficult some times…

Mia Garcia

When I was 18 I had my first boyfriend and we moved together at his parents house . My boyfriends mother is Mexican and she doesn’t know English ,I’m black/Mexican and there was a big communication gap and a lot of awkward moments that lead to a lot of tension in the house , At the time my boyfriend didn’t have a good relationship with his family and it put more tension on everyone , but I tried my best to bring my boyfriend close to his family so we can have peace in the house until we had money… Read more »

ADITI

My long distance boyfriend often ignores my message although he is active online.He will check my status,but always responds me later.Im exact opposite,i cannot wait to talk to or text him.His behaviour hurts me a lot and questions my decision whether i should think of a long term relationship or just end everything and let him go from my life.I think i have allowed him to control me to this extent that my happiness depends on his actions.Though i love him a lot and cannot contemplate my life without him
,what to do?

Unknown

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 »

A.N.

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 »

Mac

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.

Cassidy

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 »

Ann

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 »

Happy

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 »

Ravenna

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 »

Joanne

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.

Joanne

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.

Ellen

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 »

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.