How to Pursue Your Dreams When Surrounded by Unsupportive People

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That moment you decide to follow a dream is magical.

It’s so exciting.  Not everyone finds a dream they truly believe in.  Even less people take action to pursue them.

There’s no doubt it’s a risk, but what dreams come easy?

Besides you’d rather go for it and fail than let it pass you by without even trying.

You set your plans and goals to accomplish and head out on your way.  Everything is going great.

That is, until you tell the people close to you.

Your friends and family aren’t as supportive as you’d thought they would be.  You expected a few questions and concerns, but the feedback you get surprises you.

A few are doubtful, but many of them are outright unsupportive.

For some reason, they want you to give up on this dream.  They might think it’s too risky or that the odds are completely against you.  Whatever their concern is, the message is clear: they’re against it.

Interacting with Unsupportive People

Does this scenario sound familiar?  There’s nothing worse than finding a dream you want to pursue only to find those around you discourage it.

Under normal circumstances, it’s hard to take action towards a dream.  When those around you keep telling you to quit, it just makes it even harder.

It takes a strong person to follow their dreams without support from a loved one.  Those times when you’re feeling down and distressed, it’s good to know that you can turn to someone who is supportive.

That’s why it’s so important to be surrounded by supportive people.

But when they’re not supportive, they can fill your head with fear and doubt.  This just makes it all the harder.

But what can you do if most people around you are unsupportive?

1. Persuade and convince them

People are often afraid of things they don’t understand.  They get an idea in their head of what they think it’s all about without truly comprehending the whole picture.

This could be why the people around you are unsupportive.  Perhaps you just need to explain your decisions to them.  Once they understand your decision they might think differently.

Sit down and talk with them to clear up any misconceptions.  Be honest with them about why you want to pursue this dream.

Be upfront about any potential drawbacks to pursuing this path.  Most dreams are risky so you don’t want to gloss over that.  Make sure they realize how carefully you’ve considered this decision.

You also want to share what makes you so excited about this dream.  Excitement is infectious and can bring them over to your side.

2. Come to a compromise they support

If persuasion doesn’t work, you can always compromise with them.

This is kind of the midway point between going 100% to your dream and giving up on it.  Instead of dropping everything to pursue your dream, you can do it on a part-time basis.

An example of this would be someone who wants to be a professional actor, but doesn’t drop out of business school to do it.  They act in the evenings and on weekends, but have their classes to fall back on.

This arrangement can make your family feel better about your decision because if acting doesn’t work out, you’ll still have a degree so you can earn money.  It works out for you too because you still get to follow your dream – although not as hard as you might like.

3. Block their negative influence

If you can’t convince them and there is no way you can come to a compromise, you will have to block all their unsupportive behavior.  They might not like your decision, but they don’t have to remind you of that every time you’re around.

Don’t talk about it with them more than you need to.  And if they say something negative about it, don’t argue back.  Getting into arguments won’t solve anything and might make things worse.

If you’re overwhelmed by their negative influence and unsupportive behavior, you might want to spend less time with them.  This isn’t a decision to take lightly.  But hanging out with people who constantly put doubts into your head will make reaching your dreams much harder than it needs to be.

Finding the Way to Your Dream

Following your dream is hard enough.  There’s no reason why you should do it while everyone around you is telling you to stop.  It’s like trying to run a marathon with a pocket full of rocks.  It’s unnecessarily difficult.

When people aren’t as supportive as you’d like, your dreams don’t feel as magical.  Make sure those dreams don’t turn into nightmares.
photo credit: Chris Devers

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Comments

  1. I agree that it’s important to try to inform your friends and loved ones about the pros and cons of chasing your dreams. But don’t spend too much energy trying to get them to come to your way of thinking. They will never be as invested in your dreams as you are. Save that energy for the work it takes to succeed.

    And I don’t agree about compromising. Your dreams are yours. They belong to you, just as this one life belongs to you. Don’t compromise it to make others feel better. It’s not their life that’s being compromised, but your own.

    Dreams are only what we make of them. If we only give them a half-assed effort, they will only return half-assed results. Better to dive in fully and make ‘em real. Bring them to life. Live them with every damn ounce of passion you have in you.

    That alone should go a long way towards erasing their skepticism.

    Cheers!

    • I love your enthusiasm for pursuing your dreams. Although I would say that compromise is justified. It’s hard to follow your dreams without the support of others. Really hard. If you have to only do them part time so you can get that support, it would be worth it.

      I can see what you’re saying about doing things half-assed. It’s definitely better to do things 100%. That’s how you get the best results. I guess it should be up to the person to make that decision whether they need the support or can do without it.

  2. I’m glad you talked about this. I’ve never really had too many supportive people in my own life. I even made it a conscious decision to not tell most of my friends and family about my site and what I’m currently doing. All they know is that my site opened up tons of jobs and opportunities for me, but if they knew the exact details then I would be criticized.

    I find that it is best to accept this reality and block out their negativity. No one needs people to bring them down because life is hard enough as it is. Focus on the people who bring you up and support you when you need it because that is how you move on without any weight on your shoulders.

    • It’s bad that you can’t tell your friends and family about your site. They are the ones that should be your biggest followers and supporters. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes sometimes.

      It’s always good to block other people’s negativity. I’ve had friends who were negative about everything and it just makes you doubt all your actions. It’s much better to let positive supportive people in. The right kind of person can fill you with energy and confidence. The wrong kind will just do the opposite.

  3. We cannot blame our loved ones if they have doubts at times. They just want the best for us and they don’t want us to fail, but isn’t not trying to do what you want considered a failure?

    It reminds me of a contest I joined recently. I was having a hard time looking for a concept and I’m just glad that my friends and the family supported me and even gave me suggestions. I now surround myself with people who can be a good influence to me. There are some people who are trying to pull you down because even they are afraid in taking risks to achieve their dreams.

    • I think you do have a good point that they don’t want us to fail, but there has to be a balance somewhere between this worry about trust. A lot of my family lacks trust and they often go with their own natural instinct of criticism and attempts at persuasion without giving my arguments a thought.

      • Yeah, there should be a balance. If they’re not supportive, you could just do it part time for a while until either they get used to it or they see your potential.

    • I agree. We can’t blame loved ones if they have doubts. Most of the time, they’re just looking out for your best interests. They’re probably not trying to be mean. At the same time, you can just give up.

  4. Chnage requires lotys of energy and it’s hard to do on your own. We need our own team of cheerleaders but we can’t expect them to come running along – they need to be recruited and to share the dream with us.

    • It’s always a little easier when there are cheerleaders in your corner. Change does require energy. A good cheer now and then can give you that energy when you’re feeling low.

  5. You write and articulate outstandingly! Would you give advice to me because I change my mind several times a week if not every day about what I’m going to do. I motivate myself, feel I would do it and still feel unsure even though I can handle it. I don’t like feeling lost.

  6. This is definitely me haha. Although they’ve become more accustomed to my ideas, my parents have always told me to ‘wake up’, join the real world and get a job. I’m good, thanks. They do support me though.

    I often wonder why people are so unsupportive, is it because they’re struggling themselves? Is it because they tried and failed? Who knows. I also want to share something because you mentioned risk a lot; risky is the new safe – everyone can succeed if they put their mind to it, sure it might take years upon years of strenuously hard work, but it’ll happen.

    On the other hand, living the corporate life and climbing up the ladder in a fortune 500 company is risky in my honest opinion. It might seem easier to get there, no doubt it is (you have people telling you what to do all the time), BUT who says you’re gonna like the job? Is it your dream/passion? If not, then it’s a risk. You risk losing happiness, you risk losing years of your life to something you don’t even enjoy.

    That’s my perspective, as outlandish as it may seem :) Thanks for the great post!

    • That’s a good question: what makes some people unsupportive? There’s more than one answer and it depends on the person.

      You’re right about living the corporate life. Climbing up the ladder in a fortune 500 company wouldn’t be easy. You’d have to take some chances to make it all the way up to the top. It wouldn’t be easy.

      But you do have to want it. I can’t imagine someone getting that high up in a corporation and hating what they do. And even if you could do that, you wouldn’t enjoy your life all that much. You should at least like what you’re doing a little.

  7. Hm… well my solution was to just lie.

    I’ve kept the final endpoint of my dream to myself, just sharing the more acceptable intermediaries. Not the ideal solution, but there’s not much for it – my dreams are too weird.

    • Lying would work. You could probably keep them to yourself too which isn’t really lying; it’s more like concealing your dream. Although you wouldn’t be able to benefit from their support while you’re chasing it. But at least you wouldn’t have them telling you to stop altogether.

  8. I think other people are threatened when you’re excited about something and willing to pursue it. It’s hard to ignore the naysayers, especially when they’re family members, but it’s the only way you can move forward!

    I say, separate yourself as much as possible from the downers!

    • It can be hard to avoid the naysayers especially when they are close to you. That can be hard to overcome. It’s possible that they are threatened by you and what you want to accomplish.

  9. Oh wow….reading the title of your post made me sit up!

    I am not sure about persuading anyone but I sure agree with your idea about explaining so that the few who are doubtful can get a chance to see your perspective. And if this fails, as you have said, it will be wise not to share more than what is necessary.

    Let’s not have other people kill our dreams. We don’t want to have unsupportive people poking holes in our dreams when they may not know any better themselves. We need to take ownership and believe in our own!

    • I like your idea of taking ownership of your dream. When you own it, you take responsibility for making it happen. Part of that will mean persuading others that your choice is the right one. That’s not always easy, but that might be just what you need to do.

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