For the original full-length article by Celestine: 7 Tips To Tackle Naysayers in Your Life
“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Are there any naysayers in your life? Someone who is perhaps discouraging you from pursuing your goals and dreams? Someone who is keeping you from achieving your highest potential?
I have faced my fair share of naysayers.
One of them was my junior college form teacher. She would discourage me and my classmates from aiming too high in life (by too high, I really mean trying to aim anything at all). She also pre-judged each student based on her biased assessment of his/her abilities, then treated the student as such, hence creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather than encourage us as a teacher, she was often a wet blanket, telling us to opt for pragmatic courses and career paths than set big goals and dreams.
Then, when I decided to quit my corporate job in 2008 to pursue my passion, everyone said no. A close friend said I would regret it in the future. Another friend asked if anyone said I was crazy. People, personal mentors and friends alike, advised me against it. Some said that economic recession was coming soon. Some said that my then corporate job was fantastic and that I would never get such a great job in the future. Some said that I was too young and didn’t have the right skills and know-how to achieve results in my new path. Some said that I was wasting my previous education and my career path.
For all the naysayers I faced in the past, I never heeded their words. Funnily, none of their pre-cautions came true. I went on to achieve every single goal I have set out for, and more. It was almost as if they were just projecting their personal fears and issues onto me.
If you are facing naysayers, I want you to know that your life is yours and you don’t need other people telling you what to do. Here are 7 tips I have for you to deal with them:
1. Safeguard your goals from them
Imagine you’re trying to create a beautiful, grand sandcastle at the beach. Now, imagine someone pouring water on top of your castle every 1 minute. Will you be able to build anything in the end?
No of course not. Each time you get anywhere, your creation gets demolished instantly. At most you’ll end up with some clumpy looking lump and a very frustrated you. All the efforts you’ve put in have gone to waste.
That’s the same thing when you listen to the naysayers. Being discouraging and skeptical in nature, they tend to talk about the downsides and horror stories of the “dangers” surrounding what you plan to do. Every second you spend listening to what they have to say about your goals is just like pouring acid over your dreams. In the end you have to spend extra time and effort to combat the damage they’ve done. It’s not even worth it in my opinion.
Your goals are too precious to let other people taint them. Protect them. Don’t give naysayers the opportunity to damage your dreams by not even raising the topic in the first place.
2. Eject the naysayer from your life (if you can)
If possible, eject the naysayer from your life. Generally naysayers serve as a shroud over life’s possibilities, so spending too much time with them is only going to limit your own potential.
3. Evaluate the naysayer’s background
One thing I look at before I consider anyone’s words is how the person is doing in his/her own life. Is this person’s life the kind of life I want to have for myself? Does this person have knowledge and expertise in what he/she is commenting on?
If the answer is no, then I’ll discount what he/she says. After all, this person is where he/she is precisely because of his/her own knowledge and advice. By following his/her words, it can only get me to where he/she is, not where I want to go.
4. Ignore them – Tune out
If you’ve evaluated the naysayer’s words and concluded that these are not relevant to your goals, then simply tune out. Just because they say something, doesn’t mean you have to take what they say. As Buddha has said before, if someone offers you a gift and you decline it, the gift is still that person’s. Likewise, if someone wants to offer you their 2 cents, you can’t stop them from doing that, but you can choose not to accept it.
5. Don’t engage in the discussion
The naysayers are as staunch in their stance as you are in yours, and there’s no need to seek any agreement too.
In your replies, keep it simple and short – with “I see” or “Okay”.
Don’t assert your stand, don’t try to probe why he/she said what he/she said, don’t try to explain yourself either. The naysayer can come up with all sorts of reasons why he/she is right and why you’re wrong, which is just a waste of time.
Switch topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there. Also remember tip #1 – make a mental note to safeguard your goals from them in the future.
6. Surround yourself with enablers
Rather than face negativity, surround yourself with positivity instead. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so choose the best five people you want to spend time around. In Day 19 of Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program: Create Your Success Network, we work on building our success network of five, which are the five people whom we want to emulate in real life.
Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your goals if you told them. Think about how you can increase the time you spend with them starting from today.
If you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. Think of the people out there in this world who are doing what you want to do, then increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on.
7. Think back to your vision for yourself
Last but not least, think about your ideal vision. What is your ideal vision for your life?
Whenever you get distracted by naysayers, it’s only because you’ve taken your eyes off your goals. If that’s the case, all you need to do is to look back at them. Recall what exactly you want to achieve. Think about what exactly you want to get out of your life. Then ask yourself if it’s worth it to put them on hold because of a couple of naysayers.
Don’t deny yourself of the life you should live just because of naysayers. At the same time, make sure you’re not being a naysayer to others.
Here’s my favorite quote by John Eliot:
“History shows us that the people who end up changing the world – the great political, social, scientific, technological, artistic, even sports revolutionaries – are always nuts, until they are right, and then they are geniuses.”
Are you ready to rock your life? Let’s start living our best life starting from today :D
This article is also available in manifesto, web lecture, and audio podcast formats.
Be sure to check out How To Say No To Others: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to learn how to say no to others.