Why letting people down might be the best life decision you ever make

Staying trapped out of fear of letting people down? Read this:

“Just because he loves you doesn’t mean you have to love him back.” As a teenager discovering ‘boys’ for the first time, I received this advice one lunchtime from an Older Girl (you know, two whole grades up). She must have been very precocious for her age because as it turns out, that stands as some of the best advice I have ever received. And I’m not just talking about relationships.

When it comes to leaving that role (or moving on another stage in your life/business) these words crop up all the time:

They like me. They want me. They NEED me. Words that punch us in the gut every time. How can we move away from people who NEED us?

We all want to be wanted. We all like to be liked and needed. (Trust me on just how much I feel you on this).

But I’m going to be straight with you here: your employer or those clients or that person in your life that you think you will let down by moving on? They don’t need you.

Sure, they might they need someone filling your role but it does not have to be you. I mean it. Think about this:

If you left that situation tomorrow… in 3 months’ time what would happen to those people who ‘need you’?

Answer: 3 months on they will be FINE. Completely… fine.

But if you stay in that situation in which you feel trapped, in 3 months time will YOU be fine?


The belief that you are needed by that person or that team or whatever it is can cloud the fact that actually, you are dispensable. Sorry to say it, but there it is.

No matter how difficult their situation, no matter how many problems you believe may tumble out in your absence know this:

All those problems CAN AND WILL be overcome when you leave. Yes even if that means things crashing for a while first – which in most cases it won’t but even if it does – people can and will sort it all out.

I can’t count the times I stayed put out of fear of letting people down. There was that business that I KNEW would crash without me (it did…for a while. Now, it’s back up and bigger than ever). There was that partner (well, several) who I stayed with far too long because – if I was being honest with myself – I just KNEW they would collapse without me (they did. Now, they are doing more than fine, some in happy committed relationships, others thriving in their own way. One recently thanked me for having the guts to make the break. At least one other doesn’t speak to me. That’s fine too).

If you want to rescue anything, there’s something else that needs sorting out. Your LIFE. Your one and only life. In that case you are the only one who can do it. You are needed. All of you… including the part you are giving to that situation that dulls you down. Including the part of you are giving to those who are perfectly capable of functioning without you.

Of course, you may not want to hear this.

Being needed is seductive. Being wanted is hypnotising.

Honey, I can assure you that – if you don’t have it already – you can and will find a place in your life where those words “you are needed” and “you are wanted” are true and right and you welcome them.The situation you are in now, the one you are holding in your head as you read this post, is not that place.

What are you holding on to out of attachment to the belief that you are ‘needed’… beyond any needs of your own?


  • Lindsay Lusby

    So well said! And so very true. Thanks 🙂

  • Alannafreeman

    Ah Marianne, this is so familiar. But last week I did exactly what you are advocating here and made a change that is right for me. On my terms, noone else’s. And although some people don’t ‘get’ it, I have been happier in the last seven days than I have in te last seven months put together!

  • Oh Marianne, you’ve no idea how apt your words are to me at the moment.  I’ve been struggling with this issue for such a long time, and now I’m at the stage where there’s a part of me, inside, that’s screaming to be let out!  I can feel it – actually it’s making me nauseaus in my solar plexus!  I’ve had this feeling before, but the difference is that this time I’m feeling less afraid about moving out there….?  I know I’ve still got lots of stuff to sort, including the indignance and anger that’s rising because of those close to me who don’t pull their weight – lazy !!!!!  But your works brought me comfort today.  Thanks x

  • Orme Vse

    So true – I remember a friend often saying …. “He’s mad for her” .. and this defined how Ok the girl was. So if he wasn’t “mad for her” she was no good or less than the one who he was “mad for”…. if made a huge impact in my life until one day I thought – “well, he isnt even a nice person” and I started to look at if I liked the chap and now it’s the person – it’s about how I feel about any person I come into contact with…. thank you for this it’s made me look even more at who I want in my personal space …..

  • JezS

    The same goes for things you own or would like to own. You think you need them but in reality it is all just clutter. For the last year or so I have been ultra decluttering – holding onto the basics – things I use everyday – and I don’t miss any of the rest. The relief of the soul for no longer feeling imprisoned by stuff is tremendous.

  • E Fawcett

    The company managing director was a charismatic man, with a big following amongs his managers. One day having upset the Chairman, he was told to leave immediately. 72 of the senior management in the company walked out in support. This will bring the company to its knees, it couldn’t function without them, was the belief..soon to be proven so wrong. The canny Chairman promoted all the second in charge of each department.( I was one of those promoted).apologised for the blip to his customers and asked for their tolerance and understanding during the transition period. Within a very short period of time..it was history…lesson well learned..no one is indispensible..ultimately…all things shall come to pass..

  • Selina Barker

    Just read this and wow. Powerful and beautifully written message right there. Passing this one around. Thank you! Oh and I have those shoes… ; ) x S

  • Ha ha! Thanks Selina (and I think you actually gave those red shoes back to me in the end… they are the ultimate festival boots 🙂

  • Completely agree Jez. I used to by a bit of a shopaholic but now when I look at something I always remind myself it’s not just about a pricetag, it’s also the ‘hidden cost’ of bringing it into your home space and having to find somewhere for it, and have it around you every day for a long time… when you think about it that was the impulse moment gets reframes pretty radically! Love the way you put it about the relief of not being imprisoned by ‘stuff’, definitely still something I’m working on (a great crash course is living out of a carry on bag 6 months of the year, really helps you realise how much you don’t need!).

  • Great point Orme – decisions about who you want in your personal space are so important yet we aren’t often encouraged to question that, so thanks for the reminder!

  • Ah thank you Chrissie. *hugs*

  • Congrats! Good on you for doing it – and all the best with living on your terms, it’s an exciting adventure you’re starting on.

  • SJP

    I’m just reaching chapter 6 of your book and can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. So many years of misery and fear and berating myself because (someone actually said this!) “I’m not a sticker”.

    It’s like you can read my mind.


  • Grace Bezanson

    Wow, powerful message. One I had to deal with this past fall when I dropped a client I did not feel would work out in the long run. So true for romantic relationships, too, which is why I’m travelling for 2 months without the hubby and he will just have to live with it, hehe.

  • Hey, first time across your site. Love what you have going on here. I definitely agree with what your saying here…to some degree. I think it’s important to balance this with making sure we aren’t just living our lives selfishly. But you’re right. Most of the time, we actually do people more good by letting them down.

  • Thanks for the comment John. I agree with you, and  think there is a world of difference between living in a way that is consistently unreliable (ie: letting people down in tangible ways due to not valuing them and their time/needs) and living in a way that is true to what actually matters and is true to us. Obviously there are shades of grey in either and potential for not great outcomes whichever path we take but I like to keep that difference in mind – I always feel that the latter is the one that will do more people (us and those around us) more good in the long run. IMHO 🙂

  • Agreed. Just went through your audio for subscribers. Good stuff.

  • I signed up for your free audio but never received the email that was supposed to give me the link to the audio. It did not get lost in spam either.

  • Lisa pindell

    I really do appreciate this post. At a time in my life in which I feel trapped in situations which cause more anxiety and frustration than bringing pleasure. It’s not as easy as one would think to distance yourself from unhealthy and unnecessary relationships or teams but it is possible and beneficial as I have learnt from reading this post. The fact that someone else has experienced the same things as me is enlightening and creates a whole new perspective on why I CAN leave unhealthy environments where I am ultimately unhappy, not thriving and limited. I want to be like the green witch broadways ‘wicked’ when she sang ‘defying gravity’! Thanks again!!!

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