“There must be more to life than this,” you think. Many years into it, you feel like you’re in the wrong job or career.
Suddenly you can’t see yourself doing what you’re doing for the next five years (or even for the next year).
Maybe you have a few ideas rolling around in your head, or you have a secret dream of something specific you’ve always wanted to do or be. Perhaps you’ve even begun to take a few steps toward that dream.
This is a very fragile time in the human psyche. This is when hope begins to overtake fear and self-doubt. You have reached your unhappiness tipping point, when your dislike of the status quo has more power than your resistance to change.
As you work toward uncovering your life passion or begin to take actions to live your passion, you will encounter internal resistance, self-doubt, and confusion. It is simply part of the process, something to manage and overcome as you recreate your life around your passionate vision for your future.
It’s one thing to cope with your inner demons and negative voices. You do have some level of control over your own thoughts and behaviors.
But what do you do if those negative voices are coming from other people? And what if those other people happen to be your close friends, family members, or even your spouse or significant other?
If you are particularly sensitive and reactive to the opinions of others and feel it’s your duty to make others happy, this scenario is enough to make you scurry back to the status quo. It feels deeply uncomfortable to make other people unhappy, angry, or disappointed.
But I will tell you plainly — you will never live your life passion unless you embrace the discomfort of dealing with the naysayers in your life. And that doesn’t mean giving in to them. It means following your passion in spite of them, even as you try to manage their feelings and your own.
Why are people so negative?
Why is it that people in our lives, particularly the people closest to us, feel the need to sabotage or undermine our passionate dreams? Why do they feel the need to tell us how we will fail, how misguided our choices are, how we are being thoughtless or unrealistic?
Even well-meaning family and friends feel the need to give unsolicited advice and input, thinking they are protecting us from poor judgment or redirecting us to a supposed better outcome.
These people may have the best intentions with their ideas and input, but in the early stages of your life passion pursuit, you need a clear head, free from distractions and negativity — no matter how well-intended.
As I mention in my book, The 52-Week Life Passion Project . . .
Sometimes our loved ones feel threatened by the possibility of change — even positive change. If you appear to be rocking the boat and making waves in the nice, secure and predictable life you have together, it’s bound to cause concern or outright rebellion.
Even if your passion pursuit makes no impact whatsoever on your loved one’s life, simply making a positive move for yourself can stir the emotional pot for them, causing feelings of fear and insecurity. This is especially true with your spouse or life partner. (Page 98)
Ideally, you want the support and buy-in of those closest to you as you transition from your old life into something you feel passionate about. You not only want these people to share in the joy and excitement of your life passion, but also to be there for you when you hit the inevitable mental and emotional roadblocks.
So how do you stop the negativity and get them on board?
Here are two types of naysayers you may encounter:
The first group is people who are going to be negative and attempt to sabotage your efforts or your self-confidence about your passion, no matter what. These are people who . . .
- think they know best what is right for you;
- feel deeply threatened by positive change in other people;
- simply enjoy making others feel bad or insecure (this, oddly enough, allows them to feel better about themselves).
There is only one thing to do with these people: Avoid them completely.
If that isn’t possible, limit your exposure to them and try to curtail any conversations around your life passion pursuit. If this person happens to be your spouse, then it’s time to get some professional counseling to help you both navigate through your changes and their reactions. (This is marriage-ruining stuff if not addressed in a healthy, proactive way.)
The second group of people are those who truly want the best for you, but for valid reasons (to them), they feel very uncomfortable with the changes you are making in your life.
- Maybe they fear your life changes will negatively impact them or your relationships with them.
- Perhaps they truly believe from personal experience that you are making the wrong decision.
- Or they are simply good people who feel a bit jealous, insecure, or agitated with the path you are taking. (These are their issues, not yours.)
Healthy relationships demand that you involve the people whose lives are closely intertwined with yours. You need to share your life passion plans with them, particularly your spouse and children, so that they feel safe and included.
The best way to involve them and make them feel secure with your life changes is through regular and open communication. In the early stages of exploring your life passion, you may need to ask specifically for their support through patience, listening, and positive and encouraging words.
Later in your life passion work, it may require that you work together to alter aspects of your lives in order to accommodate your new passion. It may require you to listen to their fears and needs and then adjust your passion plans accordingly.
As you get closer and closer to making your passion a reality, you need to communicate more often so that everyone involved feels heard and all concerns and problems are addressed forthrightly. This may require the support of a coach or counselor if you encounter a roadblock.
But with regular open and healthy communication, you can head off negativity and foster the engagement and support you need to make your life passion a reality.
Don’t run from the discomfort of dealing with negativity from others. You can manage it in a way that allows you to move forward with your passion plans while maintaining the integrity of your most important relationships.
To counter the negativity you may receive from those close to you, find and surround yourself with others who are pursuing their own passions (preferably something like yours). These are the people who will support and uplift you and show you that your dreams can be your reality.
If you’re seeking your life passion and need some support along the way, please join Barrie Davenport’s 4-week online interactive course, The Path to Passion, beginning August 17, 2013.
Barrie Davenport is a life passion coach, author, and founder of BarrieDavenport.com, a site devoted to helping people uncover and live their life passions.
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