Ask Dianna: Their Failure Isn’t Your Fault

Dear Dianna,

I am a mom, finishing the last year of my human services degree. I have always enjoyed spending time with classmates. Recently, however, I’ve found that this one person acts like my friend, but becomes a bit passive aggressive, trying to minimize my success when she doesn’t do as well as I on an exam or other assignment. What can I do?


Dear Patty,

You are going to encounter people who just can’t accept your success. It’s going to hurt a bit and it will likely annoy you. Why? Because you’ve spent a lot of time working toward your goals while also raising your kids. You’ve put in just as much (if not more) time and effort as the next person. So when someone minimizes your success you begin to question your accomplishments and in turn, you feel like you’ve somehow failed.

The one thing you need to know: it’s not your fault.

You can’t please everyone and you aren’t obligated to do so. You see, the truth is, your success signals their failure and that stings a bit for that other person. However, you cannot control their feelings and you shouldn’t be expected to.

So what can you do?

  1. Limit your time. Yes, in some instances (school, work, etc) you may have no choice but to be around them, but you aren’t obligated to spend every minute with them. If they are bringing you down, step back and distance yourself. The old saying goes, “You cannot surround yourself with negative people and expect to live a positive life,” so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to spend unnecessary time with people who bring you down.
  2. Don’t talk yourself down. You are doing great! Don’t let anyone (including you) change that. Surround yourself, as much as possible, with like-minded people who celebrate your success.
  3. Be joyful! In many instances, you are in control of who you surround yourself with. And you have the ability to forgive and move on. Don’t necessarily forget, but let it go and find joy in your success. You deserve it.

You can’t control how others feel or how they react to any given situation. All you can do is control your behavior and I say, focus on the positive and don’t worry about those that try to bring you down! If someone you’ve spent a decent amount of time with is attaching themselves to you, bringing with them negativity and pessimism, do your best to counteract that with positive influences in your life. Your success should be celebrated, their failure isn’t your fault.


Do you need help or advice? Please click on “Ask Dianna” and send me an e-mail!

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