Friday, July 10, 2009

They Don't Get It...

Some of the biggest critics of your dream share your DNA. They may even look like you. Whether you sleep next to them or see them every Thanksgiving, these are the people who knew you first, know you best and care about you most.

So why, then, are they also the same people who appear to doubt, dismiss or try to destroy your dreams? Why does it seem like, of all the people you tell your goals to, they're the only ones telling you the 999 reasons why your plan won't work?

The relationship between your dreams and your family is a complicated one. On the one hand, your family wants only the best for you. They know you deserve the best and they believe in your ability to get it. On the other hand, your family members are over-invested in your well-being. They want you to be safe, happy and free from rejection or pain. Combine that with their own personal hangups, fears, past failures and beliefs that only certain kinds of successes are worth pursuing and you've got biased individuals who give more credence to their opinions than you ever need to.

The problem with family is not that they say or do discouraging things.
It's that we buy into it.

Anytime you make anyone else's opinion of you more important than your opinion of yourself, you turn over the controls of your life to that person. You give your power to them by allowing your passion to be diffused by their position.

Don't do it!

Family patterns are set by the time children hit 5 years of age. As an adult, you might find it difficult to redefine the relationship boundaries between yourself and a parent, a sibling, or a spouse. It might feel a little like a betrayal to say "This is me. I'm doing what I feel is best."

Keep in mind two things:
1- You never have to explain.
When a family member starts to offer unasked for advice, simply say "I'll consider that" (even if you won't), and change the subject. The moment you start to explain why you're doing what you're doing, you become 7 again and you're back to trying to convince your parents to let you wear a certain outfit to school tomorrow.

2- Don't share your vision with people who can't see.
You may desire to share your dreams with your family. You may long for their approval and support but understand that they, in all sincerity, cannot support a dream they don't understand. It's not their fault. They aren't being consciously malicious. It's simply a matter of vision. If they don't "get" it, they don't have the full capacity to back it. Keep your vision to yourself until it shines forth so bright that everyone will see it.

A special note about spouses...

If you have an unsupportive spouse (i.e. a spouse who discourages you from pursuing your dreams), you have to take a renegade approach to furthering your goals by doing three things:

1- Don't take it personally.
Whatever your spouse is saying about your goals has everything to do with how he/she feels about him/herself and nothing to do with your actual capability in achieving the goals. Notice that when your spouse's mood changes so too does his/her level of support in your dreams. Again, opinions are cheap. Tune your spouse out.

2- Don't stop.
There is a tendency, on the part of some spouses, to delay or even halt pursuing a dream in the hopes that the unsupportive spouse will one day be "ready." That day may never come. #1- God didn't give that dream to your spouse; He gave it to you. #2- Your spouse may not have the judgment, righteousness, and capacity to adequately assess your goals; in fact, given the clear point that he/she is emotionally tied to you, your spouse is too partial to be wise counsel. #3- As long as what you're doing is edifying the family and changing people's lives in a positive direction, what's the problem? Unless it has more to do with your spouse's ego than your ambition... Think about it...

3- Do evaluate your motives.
Take a very close look at why you're pursuing what your pursuing. Is this in the best interest of your family? Is this going to improve your household or hurt it? Is this a calling on your life or is this a wish you'd like to fulfill just because? You have to do the soul searching required to give you a faith and courage strong enough to keep going, even if your spouse decides not to go on the journey with you.

Final Point
At the end of the day, it's not your family's life. It's your life and the only one who can live it is you. You have to trust your intuition, go with your own choices and take responsibility for living your best life. No one else can do that for you and if you turn the reins of your life over to other people's opinions, your regrets will still be yours to bare. No one else is going to have to live your life but you so make sure that you're doing the living of it.

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