How To Deal With Negative People Who Sabotage Your Life Passion Pursuit

“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.

Next Steps

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, a site devoted to helping people uncover and live their life passions.






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14 Responses to How To Deal With Negative People Who Sabotage Your Life Passion Pursuit

    Commented:  09/29/2014 at 10:08 am

    Thank you for this article. I seem to get it from the family the most and other acquaintances who may feel threatened in some way. I’m the youngest in the family. I get mixed reactions from my siblings. They give occasional encouragement, but I sense the envy sometimes. I think they both compete for attention from the parents and they feel that I couldn’t possibly get ahead of them because I’m supposed to be trailing behind as the youngest. I’ve had an issue with one sibling who sabotages my chances at relationships or career pursuits, yet she is very defensive when it comes to what she wants to do. Growing up with this has emotionally scarred me to the point where I feel hesitant to do anything lest it upset her. I’m left doubting what I feel. I find that if you are happy and don’t seem to have any dramas, people will find some for you, even if they have to make it up. This article is helpful. I have to remind myself they’re dealing with their stuff and not take it personally.

      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  09/29/2014 at 3:21 pm

      Your last sentence is your best advice. It sounds like the sibling who “sabotages you” (this can only happen if you allow it) does so because she’s not at peace with her own life and tries to tear others down so she can feel better about herself. Don’t let how she feels about herself negatively affect you. Don’t ever doubt your own feelings because of how other might judge them or you.

      It’s particularly difficult to do with family (I know from personal experience) but sometimes the best thing you can do is to create space and distance between yourself and those who try to drag you down. It’s those who aren’t happy with themselves that create drama and try to drag others down. Avoid those people as much as possible. It’s tough at first but gets easier over time. For your sake, it’s so worth it.

      It’s not your job to make anyone but you happy. Unless you willingly and happily agreed to meet the expectations of others, stop trying to.

      Create as much distance as possible with the people who drag you down. Be proactive and find new friends who will support you no matter what. Trust me, they’re out there when you start looking.
      Paige Burkes recently posted..Using Mindfulness To Be More ProductiveMy Profile

  1. Pingback: How to Deal With Negative People Who Sabotage Your Life Passion Pursuit » EscapeToLight // Committing to a Life of Wellness and Purpose

  2. Lee Ann
    Commented:  05/26/2014 at 9:48 am

    Such a great and helpful post!

  3. Pingback: Say Goodbye to Negativity | sh0na writes

  4. Annika Stahlberg
    Commented:  09/05/2013 at 2:55 am

    Hi Paige & Barrie,
    I found this to be absolutely true, I used to talk to my day-job colleagues about the changes I was trying to make by helping people discover their Perfect Lifestyles and coach them to the result. I found that I was immediately shut down, there would be some negative comment about how that wouldn’t work almost straight away. Because of these initial reactions, I have a very stilted relationship with my close colleagues – I feel like I have to hide the entrepreneurial part of my life away because I want to protect it from the negativity. (You can imagine how frustrating this must be: Them: “So how was your weekend” Me: “Oh not much, just relaxing, you know”, when in reality I spent a whole 2 days meeting clients and working on my website! I lead a double life, and sometimes I dislike it, but most of the time I think it’s pretty cool, like a secret agent 🙂

    The other part I really enjoyed was when you talk about talking to those close to you that might fear change. When I decided for myself that I want to create a life where I can spend 3-4 months at a time travelling the world, I was terrified of what my partner would think. That kind of life is just not an option for him and his career, so would I have to sacrifice the travel for him? Luckily no, we are each free to create our own lifestyles & make sure we prioritise our time together when we do have it (I think spending 18months apart helped solidify that for us) I am the luckiest woman in the world to have such a supportive, nurturing man in my life!
    Thanks again for a beautiful post!
    Annika Stahlberg recently posted..What’s Wrong With Being “Comfortable”?My Profile

      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  09/06/2013 at 11:44 am

      Bravo to you Annika for following your passions despite what your coworkers think! It’s amazing how hard it can be for most people to think outside of the norms that are painted for them.

      You are very blessed, as you say, to have such a loving and supportive man in your life! Who knows, maybe you can both find a way for him to travel with you. It’s amazing what’s possible with technology. It’s more a matter of others being open-minded enough to consider alternative work arrangements. The Four Hour Workweek covers this well.
      Paige Burkes recently posted..Finding Balance Amidst the ChaosMy Profile

    Commented:  08/13/2013 at 6:16 am

    Hi Paige,
    I share your ideas about following our own passions.
    I also believe that we need not be immobilised by other’s achievements.We can also avoid unnecessary comparisons.
    Remember you are meant to achieve every thing you desire
    Remember also to encourage yourself at all times
    Love yourself many times a day.Honour your desires.They are the universe reaching out to reality through you.
    Be in love with what you like to do,however crudeor amateurish it may appear to you now.
    Don’t stop to compare yourself with others more accomplished today.Only gain inspiration from them.
    Learn something everyday about your passion.Add value to your purpose.
    richmiraclefiles recently posted..NATURAL URGE ,UNNATURAL RESULTS; CONSTANT SEARCH FOR APPROVALMy Profile

    Commented:  08/04/2013 at 3:27 pm

    So much truth Paige and we must follow our heart if we’re ready to move forward in our life. For myself, I’d add that often as we have desires to affect changes, it stirs up the whole universe and sometimes the energy of consciousness being stirred up can put us on a roller coaster of dips and dives and highs. I’ve found if I just stick with it, when it all settles down again…I’m in my new state.

    This is where a little stick-to-it-ness comes in handy.

    Elle recently posted..Simple Ways To Weather Life’s StormsMy Profile

      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  08/05/2013 at 8:46 am

      I’m a firm believer in the 3 P’s: persistence, perseverance and patience. I think those are the strongest indicators of success.

      Yes, when we desire change, the status quo and its surrounding energies (and people) get stirred up. Having the confidence and courage to stick with it until the dust settles is the only path to lasting change. Many times that can be hard to do since things tend to change in baby steps. Just live the 3 P’s and life will never be the same.

      e-hugs right back to you! Love that!

    Commented:  08/04/2013 at 3:26 pm


    Great to see this post in my inbox today.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your description of the 2 types of groups.

    Your line of – “you will never live your life passion unless you embrace the discomfort of dealing with the naysayers in your life.” couldn’t be more true.

    In the first 2 years of me living true to my The 365 Effect I lost a couple friends who I had thought were close ones. It amazed me the depth of their dislike in the things that I was doing. It had nothing to do with them but the fact that i was making MASSIVE change scared the heck out of them.

    They just couldn’t comprehend it. Not one bit.

    It’s funny, I spent some time a couple weeks ago with one of these guys. He is very unhappy right now with his life situation – specifically his job. I listened to him complain and paint a very unhappy picture for quite some time before I spoke. I started to explain to him how it might not be easy but it sounded like he had nothing to lose to try and change. The words had just barely left my lips when I heard him say he “couldn’t change” and his situation was nothing like mine.

    At this point I just stopped talking. His capacity is full.

    Thanks for the post today Paige.

    I hope he reads it.

    Alan recently posted..Shout Out – People I’ve Found Doing Great Things.My Profile

      Paige Burkes
      Commented:  08/05/2013 at 8:39 am


      For your own sake, it’s great that you’ve learned to stop talking when you get a response like that. Trying to convince someone of a different way when their beliefs tell them it isn’t possible is fruitless. The best you can do is live your life in the way that works best for you and brings you happiness. Maybe, over time, your friend will see the results of doing things differently and will become uncomfortable enough with his own situation to decide to change his beliefs and his life. It’s certainly not your job to do any of that for him or anyone else.

      Surrounding yourself with people who understand and support you is priceless – especially when some of those people have experience doing what you’re doing.

      Success rarely happens overnight and, yes, it takes hard work and persistence. But if you’re doing what you love and you love where you’re headed, it’s not so hard. You could compare it to raising kids – a labor of love that can try your patience at times but is soooooo worth everything you put into it.
      Paige Burkes recently posted..The Hidden Road to Living Your Dream LifeMy Profile


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