(If you missed any of the other parts in this series, you can read them here: Part 1 ~ Part 2 ~ Part 3) “Why the hell would you do that?! You’ll just end up failing like you always do.” – Actual words of a “friend” as I was trying to make a big life change in my early 20’s.
Guess what. I believed him. So I chickened out and went back to playing it safe.
We all have people in our lives who have made comments like this, or people who’ve made more subtle comments on a regular basis, which, in some ways, can be even more damaging. Hear it enough, and we start to believe it. “You should really lose some weight.” “You should find a man before you’re too old.” “You shouldn’t wear skirts like that at your age.” “You should stay home with your kids.” “You should find a job with a 401K and count your blessings.” “You should exercise more.” “You should exercise less.” “You should stop all that crazy dreaming and face reality…”
And just like that, another dream dies.
But it doesn’t have to.
Once we realize that the people who say these things to us are operating from THEIR OWN fears and regrets, everything changes. We are finally able to separate THEIR WORDS from OUR REALITY and understand this critical truth: What they are saying has absolutely nothing to do with US. When they criticize or voice doubts, they’re speaking from the fear and doubt in their own hearts, from the dreams they have abandoned due to the limiting voices in their own minds. And our drive to listen to the possibility in our hearts, calls into question so many things for them.
They aren’t intentionally trying to hold us down or limit us. They’re just afraid.
The power of what other people say we “should” or “shouldn’t” do cannot be overstated, especially when it’s someone we love.
You see, as humans, we’re wired to crave connection with others; It’s a survival instinct. We naturally want to do or be what others expect, so we don’t end up alone. It’s so natural to us that we don’t even question it. In fact, we are much more likely to question OURSELVES rather than the person who is “should-ing” us. But the good news is that this is another situation where becoming aware of what’s going on can create HUGE momentum for change. Simply paying attention to our visceral, whole body reaction when someone makes a comment like that- the sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs, the physical and mental exhaustion we feel when they leave… These sensations are our body’s way of calling bullshit. Pay attention. Our bodies don’t lie. Deep down, beneath all the years of external influence and doubt, there is a tiny part of us deep inside that still knows the truth- We. Are. Limitless. Here’s another truth- We can’t change ANYONE. We can’t make them stop saying these things, so why not use the energy we might use trying to correct them for something more productive, like proving them wrong. An incredibly wise friend of mine once said that when we stop feeding into the negative energy of others, the people who thrive on that energy will eventually stop coming to us. She was right. I’ve seen it in my life 100%. It’s not that people aren’t negative toward me, it’s just that I do my best to forgive and move on, before I allow their words to take up precious space in my heart. And over time, fewer and fewer negative people come into my world as a result. So, while we can’t stop people from saying limiting things to us, we CAN control our reaction. We CAN make the decision not to allow their words to create limiting beliefs in our own minds. We can remember that their words come from a place of fear, not from some superior knowledge they have about us. We can remember, even though they might not realize it, they are likely trying to limit us so that they don’t have to examine their OWN choices.
I remember when I left my handsome, successful young husband after things had become unhealthy between us. The wife of one of his co-workers literally shunned me, but not before saying “Why would you ever leave a man like that? Who do you think you are? You’ll never find a man like that again.” (side note, two years later she was divorced.)
When people question or doubt us, it has NOTHING to do with our merit or capabilities, so giving their words the power to control our decisions makes about as much sense as walking blindfolded down the middle lane of the interstate.
Does knowing this make their words sting any less? No! It hurts to be judged! Does knowing this miraculously give us the power to erase years of self-doubt? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. We still doubt. We still question ourselves. We still sometimes hear their words in the back of our minds. But what we DON’T do is shrink our expectations to fit theirs. What we DON’T do is turn our backs on our dreams because of someone else’s fears. Instead, we remember that magical feeling we had when we were children, before the misguided words of others influenced our beliefs, back when we truly believed we could do anything… Because we can. And we will. Xx Jen