How to Deal with the Naysayers

When you follow your dreams, it reminds other people that they’re not following theirs.

When you intentionally move towards a life of freedom, it reminds others that they’re stuck in a life of mediocrity.

When you take control of your future, it reminds others that they feel helpless in the present moment.

The result = RESISTANCE.

Undoubtedly, there will be people in your life who will view your desire to run your own business as a completely foreign concept. They would have to tap into Sherlock Holmes’ brain to solve the mystery of why you would ever want to quit a stable, decent-paying job (with great benefits, for the love of God) to work for yourself, sometimes making a fraction of the income. It’s nothing short of complete and utter insanity. It’s like watching Annie Taylor tumble over Niagara Falls in a flimsy oak barrel—why would anyone ever think to do that? Why not just stay on dry land and watch the absurdity from afar?

Mignon McLaughin said, “It’s the most unhappy people who most fear change.” So when you step outside the walls of conformity that have been erected by our security-loving society to pursue your dreams, you will find that these unhappy people come out of the woodworks to try to keep you from evolving. They question. They criticize. They naysay.

There are always going to be certain people in your life—certain friends, family, colleagues and co-workers—who would just feel way more comfortable if you didn’t rock the boat by opening a business. What’s the result? Resistance.

The problem that arises is when other people’s negative or non-supportive opinions keep you trapped in a life that you’ve grown out of—you continue to play it safe, put your dreams on the back burner, and keep plugging away at a job that’s got you on the fast track to nowhere.

THAT STOPS NOW.

In order to not let outside opinions slow you down on the road towards reaching your business goals, you need to know how to handle the resistance right when it arises.

First things first: Where is the resistance coming from?

Sometimes the resistance you’re faced with is so subtle that you aren’t aware of its impact until you look up one day and you’re in the exact same sucky situation you were in five years ago. Other times, resistance is like a dagger twisting deeper into your side causing you to swiftly put a full stop on your dream just to make the annoying pain stop.

Either way, creating awareness of the resistance being directed at you is the first step to dissolving it.

Who in your life isn’t fully supportive of your desire to be self-employed? Who never has anything nice to say about your business? Who’s uncomfortable with the way your life is changing? Take a moment to think of where the resistance about your entrepreneurial path is coming from. A friend? Your partner? Your parents? Your co-workers? (Don’t point fingers, just make a mental note.)

Next, you don’t ignore it, get pissed about it, or grudgingly “deal with it”—you handle it.

Here are five ways to handle the resistance coming from the people in your life who just don’t “get it”…

#1: Understand the Underlying Cause

It’s not that the naysayers in your life don’t want you to be happy, it’s that they want you to be safe.

They view your journey towards self-employment as rejecting the life raft that your stable day job has thrown to you. Believe it or not, this is scary for them. They’re thinking: How are you possibly going to be safe? How are you going to provide for yourself? How are you going to survive in this ocean of uncertainty without your life raft? 

When you’re met with resistance about your business from your friends or family, don’t automatically get frustrated or defensive. Instead, look at the situation from their point of view and try to understand the underlying cause of the resistance.

Generally, the people in your life have your best interests at heart and want you to be okay. Of course, “okay” to them means doing things exactly the same way they have done them in their own lives, but it’s not worth getting upset about their hopelessly narrow viewpoint of the way life “should” be lived.

J.K. Rowlings wrote in one of the Harry Potter books: “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” Let this be your motto.

#2: Don’t Resist the Resistance

When you’re bombarded by the negativity of naysayers, it’s easy to think, “I’ll show them!!” and then plow forward towards your goal with a renewed vigor merely to prove them wrong.

This attitude can get you caught up in a number of different traps because it’s born out of stubbornness and rigidity. Sure, it might give you the determination you need to keep moving ahead despite all the odds, but are you really moving in the right direction when you’re just trying to counteract other people’s disapproving opinions? Probably not.

Don’t get caught up in proving anything to anyone except yourself.

You are not in the convincing business. It’s not your responsibility to convince anyone else that you’re on the right path and it’s all going to turn out okay. (Most days, you probably don’t know this yourself.) Stay true to your own path and don’t deviate in an effort to resist the resistance.

#3: Don’t Take it Personally

As a business owner, you have to have thick skin to deal with the rejection, pessimism, and tough times that come with the territory, so you might as well get some good practice at not taking anything personally starting now.

First, realize that the people giving you resistance are just dealing with their own stuff. They’re projecting their own set of fears and insecurities on you, which actually has nothing to do with your life or business.

Second, when you’re faced with negative opinions, practice the art of “non-reaction.” If you’re constantly reacting to other people’s opinions and comments, this will cause hazardous commotion in your life, which will lead to unnecessary setbacks. So don’t get caught up in the drama. Imagine their words bouncing off of you as you go along with your life unscathed.

#4: Ask For What You Want

Despite my fleeting fantasy that my fiancé should be able to read my mind at all times, telepathy is not a strategy. If you want someone to change their behavior, you’re responsible for communicating your needs to them. Don’t expect anything to ever change until you do this.

If someone is giving you a hard time about your life or business, calmly confront them. Share your feelings and ask them for what you want.

In some cases, you might ask them to stop nagging you about not having enough time to hang out anymore. In other scenarios, you might ask for more emotional support, ask them to watch your kids for a few hours, or ask them to refrain from giving you so much flack.

Your friends and family generally want the very best for you (that’s why they’re nagging you in the first place), but they can’t read your mind. If you want something about your relationship to change, gracefully communicate your desires to them. It never hurts to ask.

#5: Don’t Hang Out with the Naysayers

You’re not obligated to spend your time with the naysayers. Even if you’ve been friends with a naysayer since grade school, there’s no binding contract that say you’re required to clock in a certain number of lunch dates and coffees with him or her per week.

If someone in your life doesn’t “get” what you’re doing, choose to spend less time with them and more time with the people who do “get it.” There are plenty of people who will understand your entrepreneurial dream—make an effort to seek these people out.

When you become a business owner, the people who you spend the most time with will likely change anyway. Embrace this. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, not those who drag you down. And don’t feel guilt about leaving the stragglers behind. You’re a business owner, not a people pleaser.

In the end, don’t let anyone keep you from living your authentic life. You know what you want. You know it’s in your heart to create an extraordinary life for yourself. If anyone is currently trying to hold you back from living that life (intentionally or not), take the necessary steps to handle it ASAP so you don’t become trapped in a life of mediocrity.

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