5 Ways to Nix Naysayers

Runners, I would say, are the friendliest athletes.

When you’re out for a run on the street, you’ll get a nod or a wave from a runner. A few weeks ago while running on a canal, the female counterpart of a couple running in the opposite direction actually gave me a big smile and held up her hand for a high-five.

I gladly accepted the high-five.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as encouraging or supportive while you’re passionately pursuing your goals. Maybe you’re trying to get through college and earn your degree, training for a marathon or have your eyes set on another “bucket list” item. Odds are good that you’ll encounter at least one “naysayer” along the way.

I remember standing at the starting line of my second marathon. The sun was just barely rising over the Superstition Mountains in eastern Arizona and we were in the middle of the desert on dirt path. As a few hundred of us adjusted our sunglasses and readied our iPods and watches, a heavier-set woman near me proclaimed loudly to another runner “So many people have told me I can’t run a marathon. I’m going to prove to them that I can.”

I never found out if she truly ever reached her goal and completed that marathon, but her comment struck me. She had vocalized what many of us struggle with every day.

Some people call them “frienemies,” but I’d prefer to just call them naysayers. The naysayer may even be you; that voice inside that clings to self-doubt.

So, how do you nix the naysayer or at least overcome their words and comments? I’ll admit, I let it all bother me more than I should, but here’s my advice:

  1. Reaffirm Your “Why.” Naysayer (or little voice in your head) tells you that your goal is too big or asks you why you’re even doing it. Go back to that place when you made the decision. For me, when the Boston Marathon was offered, I certainly had my insecurities, but many of my questions and prayers were answered, giving me peace. I know this is what I’m meant to do.
  2. Share Your Deepest Thoughts With Non-Naysayers. If you recognize that someone is not supportive of your goal, don’t share your deepest thoughts or feelings about it with them. Surround yourself with the people who are encouraging you and truly excited about you reaching your goal. Focus on their words and not the naysayers’ words.
  3. Focus on a Word or Phrase. Whatever your goal is, have a word, phrase or saying that resonates with how you feel about it. I recently read a Runner’s World article where Kara Goucher talked about focusing on the word “fighter” for those especially difficult parts of training or racing. For me, it’s “tenacity;” never giving up and passionately pursuing my dream.
  4. Take a Time Out. Why this little practice hasn’t continued with adults, I don’t know. There are so many moments when we just need to say “you know what, time out. I need a break from this.” Escape to a room by yourself, sit in a grassy field, go on a walk or run–whatever it is, just find a moment to yourself to collect your thoughts and push the icky away.
  5. Confront :Gulp: the Naysayer. If you’re really REALLY struggling with a certain person not being fully supportive, sit them down and talk to them about how it makes you feel. Odds are good that if the person cares about you, they’ll mend their ways. Tell them what you expect as well. If it’s words, helping you achieve your goal or simply quitting the negative talk, let them know. Sometimes people don’t even realize how their attitudes are coming across and affecting you.

Again, I am not perfect and have not mastered this art, but these principles have at least helped me to not only pursue my Boston Marathon dream, but many other exciting accomplishments, too.

You can do this. Just passionately pursue your dreams and never, NEVER give up.

In closing, my very favorite saying in high school country was the following and I still love it today:

“Pain is temporary, but pride is forever.”

Don’t leave anything on the table. Whatever it is that you do, do it with your whole heart. 🙂

(April 12 is the raffle drawing–make a donation to Childhelp by end of day April 11 and I’ll include you. There are 18 prizes!!)

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