The Hard Truth About When People Criticize Your Dreams (and What To Do About It)

“Ohhhh.”

It’s the sound we’ve all heard before ... the sound that really means:

“I’m not going to say this to your face yet, so instead I’ll just express my thoughts through a lack of enthusiasm and some little jokes here and there … because what I really think is that you’ve lost your mind … It’s not that I don’t believe in you, I just don’t want you to get hurt….”

When the people around you (especially people you really care about) criticize your dreams or just don’t get what you’re trying to do, it’s never enjoyable.

“It really feeds the doubt monster. I let it get me off track …. I know better but for some reason I still let it happen.”

What’s going on

We’re wired to want to please the other people in our circle and not make waves. People who think similarly and get along well are more likely to help each other, and that increased your chance of survival.

But there’s a little more to the story than that…

Stick with me, because I’m about to bring up two things that seem contradictory but are both completely true.

It’s all about them

Everything from our backgrounds to our brain chemistry shapes how we feel about risk. Some people believe life is better when you play it safe, and others can’t imagine how dull their life would be without taking chances.

Your big bold dreams will set off warning bells for risk-averse people, and they’ll want to “save” you.

The friction comes if someone thinks the other should be more like them, rather than just letting things be.

Tip #1: Understand that most risk-averse people have great intentions and probably believe you’re really about to self-destruct, but their opinion is no more valid than yours. It’s just different.

But sometimes, people aren’t just looking out for your best interests. They might actually be reacting to what your risk-taking means about themselves.

  • Is your partner worried that your relationship will change if you reach the success you’re looking for?

  • Is it hard for your mom to face the fact that her little girl is capable of making her own calculated decisions?

  • Deep down, does your friend feel like she should take more risks, so if you succeed at something she wants for herself, she’ll be forced to take a hard look in the mirror rather than blaming other events or circumstances in her life?

It gets complicated!

But that’s okay. Luckily, you don’t have to figure out everyone’s backstory … that’s for them to do. All you have to remember is that there can be a lot going on beneath the surface.

Tip #2: Remember that your actions, and the results of your actions, make people reflect on their own life and choices. You may be touching a nerve that you didn’t even know existed.

Unfortunately, this is why people sometimes fade from our lives when we start making big changes. The process of separation can hurt, but in the long run it’s less painful than conforming to someone else’s idea of how you should live your life.

“Negativity is contagious and when I have positive people around me they are encouraging and supportive!”

Tip #3: Don’t be the person that dims your light for someone else’s benefit! Yes, they should be able to voice their opinions candidly to you, but they should ultimately support the fact that it’s your decision and wish you well.

It’s all about YOU

Let’s say you were lying in the park on a lazy Sunday, gazing up at the sky with your bestie.

“I just love looking at the clouds in the green sky,” she says.

“You mean blue sky,” you say.

“The sky’s not blue. It’s green!” she replies, looking at you as if you were crazy.

You friend may not see things your way … but her words don’t cut you to the core like they would if she were talking about your business plan.

The difference is that you believe 100% in blue sky, but more like 50% in your ability to pull off that dream of yours. And while a certain level of uncertainty is natural with all new things, you need to be absolutely clear that you should be doing this and that your decisions are yours to make. 

“I realized that the more I believed in myself and my own goals, the less it mattered if other people did.”

And the people around you, especially the people that are closest to you, can read you like an open book. After all, only about 7% of communication comes through the words you use … the rest comes from nearly imperceptible variations in things like your tone of voice and body language.

And I’ll take it one step further…

Not only are those people reacting to the signals you’re putting out, but you are actually bringing those people and comments into your orbit so that they can reflect your inner beliefs back to you.

Why would you do that? Because your ego loooves to be right! So, if you believe you’re making a dumb choice, your brain will seek out evidence to prove that it’s true.

It’s a big, vicious cycle. You doubt yourself … and then you subconsciously share those doubts with the exact people that will pick up on them and reflect them back to you.

Tip #4: If more than one person questions your dreams, use it as an opportunity to reexamine your beliefs. Get clear on your “why” and what it means to you to be a person that strives to do better, work on your mindset to uncover any limiting beliefs that might be holding you back, and pay extra close attention to your fears and whether or not they are actually grounded in truth.  

“I do feel alone on this journey sometimes... I try not to let that get the best of me. I just have to remember my 'why' then I can get back on track.”

So, in other words, thank them for bringing this to your attention! If they had been your biggest cheerleader … if they had loaned you money … if they had offered to chip in and help … absolutely nothing would be more valuable than helping to shine a light on your beliefs.

Because your beliefs are everything. They’re what dictate your actions, and your actions are what will ultimately guarantee your success.  

About the author:

Jenna Harrison is a business coach that helps women take the leap into entrepreneurship so they can have the freedom they’ve been longing for, by giving them both the tactics and peak performance mindset that will fuel their success. You can see her in action and meet some very cool, driven, freedom-minded women who share great tips on business, life, travel and living adventurously in the Women Taking the Leap Facebook group.

For women taking the leap into entrepreneurship … because you’d really rather do things YOUR way. I’ll give you the roadmap I think you should be following, and then it’s up to you if you’d like to work with me on the execution!