Answer: You start dreaming bigger.
The past few months have been filled with lots of change; some of it has been fun, but most of it has been challenging. I think we all have a tendency to want to run away from the challenge, to just curl up and accept ourselves for “the way we are,” but really, we were made to be uncomfortable.
Stay “comfortable” and you don’t experience anything new. Stay “comfortable” and really, you just kinda stink.
It reminds me of those rare before-kids-and-a-spouse days when you’d wake up late, stay in your fuzzy pj pants and hang out on the couch watching nothing on TV for hours (what? There’s no way I was the only one!). By the end of the day, you’re filled with energy and you just kinda stink. From doing nothing. At all.
I don’t want to have bottled up energy at the end of the day, the week, the month, the year or my lifetime. I want to LIVE.
I want to dream. And, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t mind being uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, not everyone is in that space. You have people in your life that, whether they recognize it or not, they’re dream stealers. You share that you’re starting a new, healthy journey and they throw your past failures in your face, or simply tell you it’s not going to work. You share your goals and they tell you they’re too lofty or simply give you a half-hearted supportive nod or smile that says so much more.
Now understand me. We all need honest people in our lives who can share their wisdom if we’re walking down an unhealthy path. That’s not who I’m talking about here. Dream stealers most often share the negative, pessimistic or simply guilt-ridden perspective because, to put it bluntly, they aren’t happy themselves. Call it sabotage, call it insecurity. Whatever it is, it’s not what you want immediately influencing your life.
So, what do you do about it? Here are a few things that have helped me:
1. Reconsider Your Sphere of Influence. Who do you spend the most time with? What do you talk about? We all need to vent every once in a while, but if you find that your conversation is not so salty and is filled with just a tad too much poison, it might be time to reconsider your time allotment with that person.
2. Build Some Boundaries. You can still love someone and support someone without allowing their “stuff” to permeate your life. If their posts on Facebook fire you up, hide them from view or, if you really have to, “unfriend” them and share an explanation if you feel the need. If they often call you to gossip or share their latest hang up, consider letting it go to voicemail a little more often.
3. Get Focused. Sometimes you need to gain some perspective and more direction to stay on a straighter path. Consider where you see yourself in a month, a few months or a year. What would you like to be doing and what are you doing TODAY to get yourself there? If you love teaching the piano, find a mentor who is excellent at teaching and have them show you the ropes. If you want to be a stay at home mom, start cutting back on your budget and living a more disciplined life to make it a reality.
4. Find Your Encouragers. You know, the handful of people in your life who have supported your decisions and been your cheerleader. Just try to make sure that they also can balance that encouragement with wisdom (try someone seasoned who has accomplished what you want to achieve.)
5. Have Grace. Dream stealers might not even realize what they’re doing. Sometimes you have to bite your tongue and move on. But, if what they’ve said and done has wounded you and you’re carrying it around, bring it up to them and be willing to forgive. This life is a journey and some take more time than others to realize what they’re doing.
Finally, if you think you might be a “dream stealer” (aka negative nelly; guilt tripper; etc) consider what you can do to change it. Simply thinking before you speak (or before you write, whichever) can go a long way in supporting someone. You never know what that encouragement will mean to them and their future.
Okay, okay, long enough, but final FINAL thoughts:
I’ve always heard the following and so completely agree with it “Feed what you want to grow, starve what you want to die.” Don’t want negativity in your life? It starts with you and who you surround yourself with.
May we all choose to breathe life-giving words into those we come in contact and love every day. Can you imagine what that could do in our world today?