Time after time, I come across people who tell me that someone they know or have known has told them that they are incapable of achieving one or more of their goals. If you want me to be 100% honest with you (and I know that’s what you want, or you wouldn’t be at my blog), I have had people telling me what I can and cannot do for most of my life. It’s very easy, you see, to steal other peoples’ dreams from them, particularly when you have had to bury many of your own dreams throughout the years. I have begun to realize, as I have gotten older and more perceptive, that more often than not, it’s people who have experienced a string of disappointments in their own lives that will be the first to say to you, “You’re dreaming” or “You’re being unrealistic” or “Don’t you realize that that isn’t going to happen?” Unfortunately, they have become so deeply cynical because of their own experiences, that they are incapable of seeing success or happiness as being realistic or possible for you. The #1 question you should ask yourself about every person who gives you negative advice is: “Is he/she living a happy and fulfilling life?” I’m not talking about a life that appears to be successful on one more levels–what I am referring to is a life that has brought or is (preferably) still bringing them personal contentment. For example, if a friend tells you that you might as well give up on finding “true” love, take a look at your friend’s life. Has he/she had a series of painful relationships? Did they go through a nasty divorce? Are they with someone right not who is mistreating them in some way? If they are married or have been married, did they marry for love or was it something they were pressured into, whether by their family or society. . .or, did they marry for companionship, financial security, and/or because they wanted children? If the answer is “Yes” to any or all of these things, then smile politely when they give advice but don’t follow any of it.
If we were living in a world where everyone wanted what was best for everyone else, we could, of course, say, “Well, those people who told me this, they meant well.'” Considering that you cannot possibly be happy if you think everyone is against you, it is probably healthy to think that a lot of the less-than-helpful advice we get is not advice that has nefarious or malicious intentions behind it. At the same time, there are people who really don’t want to see you achieve things that they haven’t achieved themselves. And, let’s be realistic about this: is it not understandable that someone who is in a miserable marriage or relationship would feel at least a little bit envious of you if you have found the love of your life and have a possibility if spending the rest of your life with him/her?? If you are surrounded by people who write but haven’t ever managed to get anything of significance published, are they really supposed to be delighted on your behalf when you publish a best-selling and/or critically acclaimed novel or non-fiction book?? Although it’s nice to think that people want those whom they care about to succeed, it isn’t realistic. There’s no point in resenting them, either. Resentment, like anger and hate, is an emotion that is destructive to both you and those arround you, and destructive emotions have no place in the life of someone who wants to achieve success. What you must do, though, is alienate yourself from those people who don’t truly want you to succeed, whether it means spending less time around them (this isn’t always possible, depending on who the person is) or whether it’s simply distancing yourself from them on an emotional and psychological level. It isn’t always easy, but you really can train yourself to “tune out” criticism that isn’t constructive and advice that will not benefit you. Once again, it’s something you will most likely have to practice doing before it becomes a habit. If you have questions as to how you should deal with those who do not fully support you and your goals, I would suggest that you simply thank them politely for their input and continue on your path to success and happiness as if they had never shared their advice with you. In cases where you are in continuous contact with people who do not share your efforts to make your dreams come true, I would say that the best thing to do is to say to them, courteously yet firmly: “Look, I know your heart is the right place, but I’m really not interested in receiving any more of your advice. Although I’m sure you want to help, I’m in charge of my own life and I need to make my own choices in every area of my life.” There are times when these “well-meaning” friends, family members, and/or acquaintances will not respect the fact that you are taking ownership of your life. It may threaten them to see you in full control of yourself and your decisions. But ultimately, they will at least respect you for standing up for you. Nobody admires a wealking or a pushover or someone who lets other people run their lives. And I don’t know about you, but I would rather be respected and admired than to be everybody’s “darling.” I think Bill Cosby said something simple yet profound when asked what his “definition” of success is: “I don’t know what the secret of success is. . .but I do know that the secret of failure is trying to please everybody.” Yes, there will be people whom you displease because you don’t follow their advice and/or don’t let them steal your dreams from you. There will also be people who chose to disappear from your life because they are personally threatened by the choices you are making on your way to creating the life of your dreams. What you must keep in mind is that anyone who doesn’t support you on your path to success and happiness isn’t worth keeping around. I’m not talking about a spouse (although divorce is always an option, unless you oppose it for religious reasons), a child, a parent, or another close relative, although it’s usually possible to limit contact to a certain extent even in the closest relationships. However, if one of your best friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t willing to either walk down the path of success and happiness with you. . .or, at the very least, support you fully (not just through what they tell you, but through their actions, as well) as you walk down the path. . .well, you’ll be doing both them and yourself a favor if you part ways with them, and the sooner the better. Once you realize that your life is yours and once you commit yourself to creating the life you desire, you start to realize that you won’t be able to bring everybody you care about with you to your ultimate destination. A few people–or even many people–are going to be left behind. But it’s better to leave someone behind than to let that person drag you down the dead end road they’re walking down with them. Sure, it’s tough to have to let go of friendships and relationships that mean something to you. But if someone doesn’t support you in transforming the life you have now into the life of your dreams, they really weren’t on your side to begin with. It may be painful to accept that now, but you’ll be thankful that you did so in the long run. Trust me. I’m your Success Diva, after all, and if you can’t trust your Success Diva, who can you trust?
Your Success Diva