16 May

How To Handle Naysayers And Would-Be Dream Slayers

This is a guest post by Michelle of Wicked Whimsy. Here, she helps us manage those times when we step out and tell others of our exciting plans only to be met with misunderstanding and negative feedback. I am lucky to have had experienced almost no negativity with my plans, but I also don’t make room for it; if I feel it coming I use many of the tips that Michelle outlines below.

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Photo Credit: JD Hancock


We’ve all experienced it; we share a dream with someone, eyes alight with excitement, only to watch the other person sniff in disdain and say something akin to “Well, that’s not very realistic, is it?”

If you’re not prepared, this can be a crushing blow to both you and your dream. Dealing with people who would slay your dreams with one fell swoop can be frustrating, confusing, and heartbreaking, if you let it be. And it probably won’t ever be easy, especially if those naysayers are close friends or family. However, there’s a few tips and tricks that can make it easier on you, and less likely to impact the way you view your dreams.

With Compassion

The first thing you’ll want to remember is that most people react that way to other peoples’ dreams because of the way they think about their own dreams. The person who is fast to pooh-pooh the ambitions of others is very rarely acting on any of their own ambitions or dreams. Since they aren’t valuing their own dreams, you can hardly expect them to value yours.

The other reason many people react that way, especially people who care about you, is that they’re trying to protect you. Misguided though it may be, they think that surely things will be easier on you now if you just give this dream up, instead of trying it and possibly failing. They don’t want to see you get hurt, so they’re trying to prevent it.

When you remember that these two things are the motivation for the way most people react, it’s a lot easier to avoid getting riled up or upset, and to stay calm instead.

With Firmness & Calmness

The best way to react to these conversations is by staying firm and calm. If you aren’t firm with the naysayer, chances are they’ll take that as an invitation to further try and convince you of their viewpoint. You might think you’re being polite, but responding with something like “Oh, why do you say that?” will only further the conversation, which isn’t going to help you out at all.

Instead, respond firmly and calmly, and change the subject afterwards, making it clear that you don’t want to talk about it any more. If they bring it up again, remain calm & say “I don’t want to talk about it”, then ask them a question. People love to talk about themselves, and bringing up their favorite subject makes them less likely to try and change the subject back again.

Avoid Them

This is certainly a last result, and it doesn’t work in all situations, but it’s worth considering. If nothing else works, and if the person insists on attempting to be a negative influence, avoid them entirely, or at least the subject. Ask them questions before they get a chance to ask you questions, have a mental list of “safe topics” that you both agree on, but make sure that if you’re talking to them, you won’t have to talk about whatever dream it is they’re intent on slaying.

And if that doesn’t work, make them not a part of your life any longer. Stop talking to them or interacting with them. Even if this person is someone you have a relationship (of any kind) with, if they’re constantly dogging your dreams, consider ending the relationship. Life is short, too short to be surrounded by un-supportive people!

How do you deal with naysayers & would-be dream slayers?

About The Author: Michelle is a 22 year old rainbow haired writer & blogger, who writes at Wicked Whimsy, at the intersection of creativity, aesthetics, productivity, & personal development. She recently released Build Your Own Castle, a free interactive guide for getting yourself together.

7 thoughts on “How To Handle Naysayers And Would-Be Dream Slayers

  1. I agree with all of the great recommendations above. I would add, especially when it comes to close friends and family, we would actively engage them on any questions they did have. Often we found that they had insight on areas we had yet to think about. For example when do they call to tell us if someone is sick back home (which turned out very relevant for us: http://www.greenaroundtheglobe.com/2010/11/17/dealing-with-tragedy-back-home).

    So why I agree dealing with negative people can be tough, by keeping an open mind and listening to what they have to say, especially when they are care for you, you can learn from their questions and possibly prepare yourself to deal with a difficult situation during the trip.
    Keith recently posted..My Moral Energy Hazard

  2. Great post! I think long term travelers or career breakers often get negative questions thrown their way because it’s still not considered a widely popular thing to do. I think that is changing more and more, but still- especially to generations older than myself- no one really did that. I think it’s educating them and letting them know you’ll be okay!

  3. This is good advice. I have one friend in particular that I feel takes some jabs at my dream. I know it’s because she’s jealous and me pursuing my dream makes me question her own decision to pursue career. The number one thing I do is make sure that I don’t ever knock her decision. I let her take her jabs because I honestly don’t think she’s doing it intentionally and in some twisted way they make my resolve even stronger since I’m reminded that I will never let anyone try to shame me into letting go of my dreams.
    Kim recently posted..The Moment- Don’t Just Accept It

    • I think you’re right Kim; she probably doesn’t mean it to be hurtful but it’s hard to hear either way. I found that it was difficult for people to relate to what I wanted to do; the house and job and kids and 2 cars and picket fence was understandable…quitting it all to step out was not. I was always, and still am, very careful to phrase my decisions as my journey to happiness and not a comment on what others choose. I think you are handling it the smart way and yes, I agree, it makes one resolve even stronger!

    • That’s a great point, Ayngelina, whenever I see someone acting like that I try to come from a more compassionate place of “that must really suck to feel like you have to react that way”, than an angry place and snap off a sarcastic retort. It usually takes less energy, too!

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