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Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
June 5, 2024 ·  4 min read

There Are Two Simple Words You Can Use To Avoid Disappointment From People In Your Life

Life is full of stress, and much of that stress can be attributed to other human beings. It may be a snobby coworker, a romantic partner who refuses to get serious, or a friend who perpetually flakes on you. We invest so much time, energy, and emotion into other people that are beyond our control. So when you are in a situation where people don’t act the way you want them to, let them.

The Let Them Theory

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Popularized by motivational speaker Mel Robbins, the Let Them Theory is about letting people do what they were going to do anyway. It’s about stepping back and letting go of resentment, anxiety, and other negative emotions that can damage your mental health. It’s impossible to control people, so save that energy for yourself and your own well-being.

In a video with over a million views, Mel Robbins explains what “let them” can mean. “If your friends are not inviting you out to brunch this weekend, let them. If the person that you’re really attracted to is not interested in a commitment, let them. If your kids don’t want to get up and go to that thing with you this weekend, let them.”

In other words, instead of trying to force people to meet our expectations, let them be as they are. “The truth is, if somebody … is not showing up how you need them to show up, do not try to force them to change,” Robbins says in the clip. “Let them be themselves because they are revealing who they are to you. Just let them. Then, you get to choose what you do next.”

Read More: 15 of The Hardest Parts of Getting Old That Nobody Talks About

When someone shows you who they are…”

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People may have heard a similar message in Maya Angelou’s famous line: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” The quote actually continues to say: “People know themselves much better than you do. That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than they are.”

When you put your expectations and perceptions aside, you can see the person as they truly are. With this new clarity, you can respond to their actions without compromising your mental and emotional well-being.

Useful in Therapy

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As a psychotherapist, I think this approach could be useful to people who tend to internalize other people’s behavior, struggle to allow others to have autonomy, or engage in anxious attachment patterns,” said Sadaf Siddiqi. 

However, she adds that this advice could be detrimental for certain kinds of people. “People pleasers generally allow others to do as they wish without any consideration of how their behaviors may impact others. This ‘let them’ approach may prevent them from speaking up and being heard.”

Read More: 12 Insightful Stories From Cardiac Arrest Survivors

Control vs Acceptance

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There are two sides to the theory. One involves protecting yourself from the actions of others, and the other protects others from your expectations and demands. Take a romantic relationship, for instance. “Embracing the ‘let them’ philosophy in relationships means loving your partner as they are, while focusing on how you respond and interact rather than trying to mold or control them,” said Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist in San Diego, California.

This applies to friendships as well. “In platonic relationships, the approach to let your friends exist as they are can help increase tolerance and acceptance of people who may have different opinions, perspectives and interests as you,” Siddiqi said.

When to Avoid the Let Them Theory

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Of course, context is important, and there are many scenarios in which the “let them” theory should not be used. Examples include situations with safety concerns for yourself or others, such as in cases of substance abuse or mental health crises. 

Additionally, don’t confuse acceptance with apathy, and remember, acceptance doesn’t mean swallowing your feelings. So don’t let it be an excuse to avoid necessary confrontations. “Sometimes, difficult conversations are necessary for resolving issues, and avoiding them can lead to more problems in relationships,” said Marsh. 

But overall, Marsh supports the theory and how it can bring people a sense of inner peace. “I like that ‘let them’ promotes a stance of nonjudgmental acceptance, especially in situations we cannot fully control which, when you think about it, is most situations.” 

Read More: 16 Strange Behaviors of People Who Thrive On Being Alone


  1. “Do The People In Your Life Tend To Disappoint You? You Need This Viral Hack.” Huffpost. Brittany Wong. January 24, 2024
  2. “TikTok’s ‘let them’ theory aims to stop disappointment, FOMO. Experts say it’s worth a try.” USA Today. Charles Trepany. December 12, 2023