Monday, March 10, 2014

When You've Been Let Down AGAIN by Someone You Depended On: 5 Ways to Cope.

America has expended a lot of energy, trying to change Putin. Sanctions, threats and many meetings and discussions have not made any difference.

Typically people don't change just because we want them to. 

I'm no political theorist and I don't have a solution to the Russian conundrum, but I do understand something about relationships. 

Whatever kind of relationships we are talking about, one thing I know for sure: we can't change other people. Only they can change themselves. 

So where does this leave us?

Julia is going through a vicious divorce. Weekends are hard. She told me that her mother had just been to stay. She spent the weekend observing her grandchildren's comings and goings and Julia's non-stop short-order cooking and chauffeur service. And then she left.  

Julia confronted her mother and asked her why she hadn't once  asked her how she was doing. 

Her mother responded,

" Well, everyone looked ok to me. "  

Julia was devastated that the support she had hoped for, was not forthcoming. In fact her mother seemed oblivious to the challenges Julia was facing. A pattern that repeated itself over and over again.

When it comes to relationships, the people we want and need to understand us, are sometimes unable to do so. 

This is often because our expectations about how we believe others will behave, are not in step with how they choose to respond. We feel hurt and disappointed.

One of the hardest things to accept, when you are going through a tough time and the people closest to you seem unable to understand or care,  is that 

you cannot change them. 

You can only change how you respond to them.

Last week Rebecca was recounting an episode with her brother, who, once again had let her down,"

She opined,

" I keep hoping that this time it will be different. This time he will realize what I need. This time he will behave differently. He will listen and validate my pain and be there to support me 100%, like I am there to support him."

I acknowledged that there is great emotional pain and disappointment associated with these hurtful behaviors, especially if they come from a continuing lack of empathy and from close relatives.

But the reality is, that unless someone wants to change their behavior there is really no way you can influence them to do so. 

Although these responses to crisis, may stay with you for a long time, some of the strategies below might temper your feelings and help you to protect yourself in the future.

The ONLY thing you can do, is to choose the changes YOU CAN make, in order to feel less hurt, let down and vulnerable. 

Here are some suggestions:-

1.You can choose which information you share and how you will respond to questions.

2.You can choose not to ask their opinion.

3. You can choose not to involve them in your crisis.

4.You can choose to lower your expectations about their level of support.

5.You can choose to find your comfort elsewhere. (Eg. Other relatives, friends, spiritual leaders, colleagues, therapists, support groups.)

These are the things you do have control over.

You have the power to choose how you feel about their behavior and how you respond.

Of course every situation is unique. Julia felt she couldn't change her thinking using strategies 1, 2 and 3 but thought that 4 and 5 could help her reframe her expectations and find support in other places.

Rebecca could potentially choose from the whole list and in her case, it was a question of which strategies she would be able to sustain. 

I know these 5 suggestions won't solve the Putin problem. 

Hopefully they will help you manage relationships closer to home and protect you from the pain of disappointment. 

Hopefully, they will help you remain true to who you are and able to give the kind of support you would like to receive.

Tell me about an experience when someone has disappointed you repeatedly or let you down. 

What did you do to help yourself move on? 

How did someone help you? What did they say or do that was so supportive?

Leave me a comment- I'll be sure to respond!

Wishing you a week in which you find the care that brings you comfort.


Please email me at or leave a comment on this post below. I'd love to have your feedback. 

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  1. I am having that problem right now, Gilly, with a close family member. I expect to settle in to vent my heart out and she repeats everything back to me and assumes how I must feel about these things...all I really need for her to do is just listen. Just let me get it all out of my system. I go away from our visits feeling frustrated. Her heart is in the right place, but we have different expectations from our conversations.

  2. Marie - I think you have got to the crux of the issue with your relative. You want different things out of the conversation and it seems, skills and support she cannot give you. It's very frustrating when you need a certain kind of support and it is not forthcoming. I wonder if you can find others who are able to listen without making assumptions and keep conversations with this person, on subject matters that you can handle discussing with her. Take care. Gillyx

    1. Thank you, Gilly. I will come up with a list of others that I can talk to. I did spend some precious time with my 'Bonus Mom' today. She's an amazing listener.

  3. So glad you have a 'Bonus Mom'. We all need amazing listeners in our lives. If you find one,nurture and keep them close by. They are special people with a unique gift. Gillyx

  4. Thanks for your post,Gilly.Yes I agree we are not here to tell others how they have to react to us.My thoughts are EVERYBODY IS RIGHT(in their own reality and mind). It always helps me when I might expect a different outcome by somebody else.When I see what they see from THEIR perspective I can love them even if I have other wishes.Yours are great posts ,Gilly!

  5. Lara you make such an important point. In the end it is not the facts but the person's perception of the facts that dictates how they feel and respond. Thanks for reading and commenting.