People Raining on Your Parade?
You’ve formulated a life-changing plan. You’re brimming with excitement and you can’t wait to share this nugget with every person you know. You start with your best friend and move on to your family, but each person you tell has a negative reaction. Sound familiar? Is your life filled with naysayers who proclaim that they only want what is best for you regardless of what you believe is best for yourself? Is there a way to overcome this? In my experience, there are several options.
A year ago this month, everything changed for me. It was one of those moments. I looked down and the ground beneath my feet disappeared, replaced by a dark abyss. The unknown. So I did what I always do, I jumped.
When I started telling the people around me about my new path, I was so excited! And I expected everyone around me to be excited too, which in retrospect was kind of silly. I’m old enough to know that my choices are not often met with compassion by others.
Some things I hear when I tell people I’m moving into a van to travel throughout the United states is: You’re crazy. What are you thinking? You’re going to be homeless. Why would you choose something so dangerous?
Before you run around telling everyone your big news; look at the people in your life and ask yourself. Who are my allies and who are my antagonists? Who are the people that will support your decision to move into a van, RV or tiny home? Who will urge you to follow your dream of moving to a new country? Who will stand by your decision to change careers or get married?
Let’s say that whatever change you have decided to take is a good one. You’ve thought about all the pros and cons, you’re financially able and mentally capable. Maybe you’ve got that one friend that always calls you out on your crap. Whenever you have an idea that is not completely thought out, this one friend will point out the inconsistencies or the challenges that you need to hear. I do not define that person as a naysayer. I would define them as an ally. A naysayer is someone who poops on your parade. They offer no solutions. They call you names; they tell you that you’re crazy; they try to control you; they don’t listen to what you’re really saying; they offer unsolicited advice and opinions.
Allies also present in different ways. One person may be your ally at work. Another may be your ally when it comes to romantic relationships. Someone may be an ally when you need help with your pets, or your plants, or your house. To expect every single person you know to get behind a huge life change is unrealistic.
When I told people about my upcoming life change, the negativity and lack of emotional support shocked me. Moving into a van is outside most people’s comfort zone. It’s outside of societal norms and I learned the hard way to be careful who I share my choices with.
I also know this isn’t the case for everyone. An amazing woman I interviewed last week for my podcast had the opposite reaction when she told her family and friends that she was selling all of her belongings to travel the world. Most people said that they wished they could do that the same thing. They understood why she did it, and they were thrilled for her.
That has not been my experience. When I told my family that I was thinking about moving into a van, I was met with rage, meltdowns, screaming and hysteria. The response was so negative that I haven’t mentioned it since. My family still doesn’t know that in two months I’m moving into my van. They don’t even know I bought my van last November. They don’t know I retired from my job two weeks ago. Because it’s not safe to tell them, sadly, they are the opposite of emotionally supportive.
My closest friends know and some are supportive, but others are terrified for me.
What happens when the people you have considered allies in your life become antagonists or naysayers? Do you stop telling them about your life? Do you limit your interactions with them? Do you lie to them or omit? Maybe it’s a combination of several tactics.
It’s clear that each person has their own reasons for not being supportive of another’s choices. Their own fears may come up. Maybe they never followed their own dreams and are subconsciously resentful that you are. Maybe they really are afraid for your safety. Perhaps they don’t understand why anyone would want to do whatever you’re choosing to do. The list is endless but in the end their why doesn’t really matter.
What matters is the way you deal with it.
You can try to explain your reasoning. If they are the type of of person who responds to logic, and respect your choices, this is a perfect route to take. However, logic and respect will not work with people who have a personality disorder. It won’t work with active addicts or alcoholics. It doesn’t work with controlling or manipulative people. If you’re dealing with someone who can’t respect and acknowledge your decisions for whatever reason, you’ll have to make a choice about how to move forward with these people.
You can cut them out of your life completely. That is an option, and one I had to do with my father. While it’s painful and sad and I will always love him from afar, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. You can choose not to tell them until after the fact, or not tell them at all or tell them about a part of your new life. You can set up boundaries with them and explain if they aren’t able to be supportive, you’re going to take a time-out from the relationship. You could lie and make up something they will understand. For me, lying is the last option, and I don’t enjoy doing it. But sometimes it is needed for self-preservation.
There will always be naysayers but there will always be encouragers too. I prefer to align myself with the latter and avoid the former if I can.
What ways have you found to deal with the naysayers in your life?