Why You Need To Blow Off Your Critics and Blaze your Own Trail

You decided to grab the bull by the horns and try something new something unique something significant that not just anyone can do.

It’s hard enough to motivate yourself to take the leap and put yourself out there for the world to see. And then just when you’re feeling the momentum swing in your favor.

Some energy vampire comes along and whacks you over the head with a big, ugly dose of negativity. It creates doubt, crushes your spirit, and extinguishes your burning desire to fight the good fight.

Deep down you know that you shouldn’t listen. But all the doubt that you bravely shook off when you started down your path comes creeping back into your head.

It’s a horrible feeling and it can take the wind out of your sails quickly.

Energy vampire, by the way, is a term used to describe a person whose presence or actions leave you feeling wiped out, depressed, or generally negative.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could let the words and negative energy of these enthusiasm-suckers roll off your back?

Well, you can! But first, you need to understand what you’re dealing with.

You Canít Tell The Energy Vampires Without A Program

There are many types of energy vampires out there who are more than willing to drain your enthusiasm. Here are just a few:

The Blame Old Story
Have you ever known someone who constantly makes bad decisions, and yet spends all their time talking about how someone or something else is keeping them down? All they talk about is how the boss, their spouse, the government, or the world is to blame for everything bad that’s ever happened to them.

And to make matters worse, they’re more than happy to tell you about how you canít succeed because someone is waiting just around the corner to screw you over, too.

A Side of Entitlement
These types feel like a break that never comes is somehow owed to them and they love to point out how ‘lucky’ you got whenever something good happens to you. To them success is something that should be gift-wrapped and delivered to their door and not fought for.

Wash, Rinse, Defeat
These people believe that there’s nothing new under the sun and so no matter what you do, no good can come from it. They feel like everything is going to turn out badly no matter what so why even try?

Destructive Guardians
Unlike the rest of these energy vampires, most destructive guardians mean well and are actually trying to help. Granted, they do the opposite of help but they don’t see it that way. This person could be a friend, a spouse, or a parent who is trying to protect you from the big bad world by conditioning you to failure.

That way, when you ‘inevitably’ do fail, it won’t hurt you so much. They might tell you that you’re not qualified for a competitive field, or that you’re setting yourself up for heartache by trying something. The advice comes from a place of love but it’s as destructive as any other kind of negativity.

Under The Bridge
The online world has its own version of energy vampires called trolls. These people are so named because they lurk in the dark, often anonymously, and periodically jump out of the shadows to attack others who have the pluck and grit to speak up and share their thoughts.

They’re insulting, mean-spirited, and like the story book trolls, often have trouble putting a sentence together. Incidentally, they’re the easiest to ignore because they lack even a shred of credibility.

We’ve established that the bad-vibe carrying energy vampires are out there. But what can you do to not let them bring you down?

A couple of things, actually.

Two Positive Perspectives

1: It’s Not About You
Recognize that whatever these people have going on in their lives it’s not about you. It may sound like it is but it isn’t. Negative people are usually under temporary stress, or they’re projecting their own life’s disappointments onto you, or they’re just unhappy people to begin with.

Just understanding that fact is empowering if you think about that. If you understand that the negativity of others is rooted in sadness, it’s easier to not get worked up or angry over their behavior.

2: Turn A Deaf Ear and A Blind Eye
As difficult as it is, try ignoring the negativity. Remember that outstanding people achieve amazing things because they undertake challenges that most people don’t dare attempt. That takes confidence, fortitude, and strength. It’s uncommon. So of course it looks odd to other people. Those who can’t comprehend your vision can therefore become negative ñ or unwittingly tell you that your plan won’t work. Your task is to banish their negative thoughts and continue on your path.

The Honor Roll of Negativity Banishers

Many famous and successful people throughout history have had to endure negativity from others. Although they’re all different people from different walks of life and even from different eras and these winners all have one thing in common: They persisted in the face of external negativity.

Charles Darwin’s own father was disappointed in him and thought he was lazy.

Harrison Ford was told that he was ‘never going to make it in this business’ by the Vice President of Columbia Pictures.

When Winston Churchill was young, his father told him that he was unfit for a career in politics because he performed so poorly in school.

One of the most prolific composers in American history, Leonard Bernstein, was repeatedly encouraged by his father to give up music and do something ‘worthwhile’ for a living.

Barbra Streisand’s mother told her that her voice wasn’t good enough to sing and that she wasn’t attractive enough to make it as an actress.

As a young man, Conrad Hilton (of Hilton Hotel fame) heard his father tell his mother that Conrad would probably never amount to anything significant.

George Washington’s mother downplayed his accomplishments even after he became a general and then President of the United States. She went as far as to stay home for both of his presidential inaugurations because she thought it was his duty to take care of her.

Thomas Edison was once told by a teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything.

The Beatles were told by a record company that they didn’t like their sound.

Years ago, comedian Rodney Dangerfield informed†Eddie Murphy that unless he changed (cleaned up) his act, he would never make it as a comedian.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and having no original ideas.

The Wisdom of The Media

Be just as discriminating about what popular media opinions you take to heart. Conventional wisdom isn’t always well, wise. Consider the following press clipping:

“The world is too big for us. Too much is going on. Too many crimes. Too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself. It’s a constant strain to keep pace — and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world now changes so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure much more!

Does that sound like something you might hear on the news right now? I mean, given current events, you can see how a journalist might write that in this day and age, right?

That was reportedly published in the Atlantic Journal in June of 1833.

Be careful what you let into your head!

Confidence and Positivity Comes From Within

There are those who will intentionally try to destroy your confidence. There are also those who will accidentally undermine your efforts in the process of trying to help or protect you.

Even experts can be wrong and so take their criticism with a grain of salt, too. Re-read the list of successful people above. Many of those people were told point-blank by experts that they couldn’t make it and yet they did.

Your confidence and certainty has to come from inside you. Forge ahead. Do your best. Fight on despite your critics. And if after doing that you still fall short of your goals ñ be proud that you stuck with your plan long after most people would have thrown in the towel. That in itself is a unique accomplishment!

Your turn. Share your experiences with energy vampires or persisting in the face of negativity in the comments.


Gary Korisko (@RebootAuthentic) writes about authenticity and the human side of business on his blog Reboot Authentic. Download his FREE eBook, How To Alienate All The Right People ñ a real-world guide to breaking away from the herd and doing something special.


34 Responses to Why You Need To Blow Off Your Critics and Blaze your Own Trail

  1. SVP says:

    Thank you for this article. I really needed to hear this today.

  2. Thanks Gary. I enjoyed the collection of famous people who were put down yet succeeded.

    I have many stories I could tell of when a friend, father, mother, cousin, etc. said negative things about me like the famous people above. The Australians call it the tall poppy syndrome. The tall poppy gets cut back.

    I have actually begun to find it amusing. People can’t hide their jealousies and their need to critique, compare, and judge. My personal coping mechanism is to laugh at them. Straight in their face. It always throws them off guard, and it’s easy to notice when they are about to let their opinions fly. After I laugh at them, then I decide whether to leave immediately, or tell them to keep their opinions to themselves and be civil. They get so embarrassed … it’s fun to watch!

  3. Joan Harrison says:

    “Some energy vampire comes along and whacks you over the head with a big, ugly dose of negativity.”

    This is the most difficult part of being a human being, understanding that what others try to project onto you is their own ‘stuff’. Their issues rise to the surface and try to smother you and even people you consider close friends can damage your thinking if you do not gain awareness of yourself. Listening, thinking before I speak are guides I employ, but it is not always easy to keep the vampires at bay!

  4. Joan Harrison says:

    Gary the connection to your blog is not working!

  5. Gary Korisko says:

    You’re welcome, SVP. Very happy to hear it helped!

  6. Gary Korisko says:

    Way to turn it into a source of amusement, Michael. It takes more than a little fortitude to do that! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Gary Korisko says:

    My host must have had a hiccup – all is well now!

  8. Gary Korisko says:

    You’re right, Joan. Taking the ‘personal’ out of other people’s negative behavior is hard to do. Great point – and thanks for the comment!

  9. Great insight! One thing I have found is we normally look to our close family/friends for support but in all reality these are the people that can have the hardest time believing in us. They have always seen us in a box so they tend to put us back in that box when we wander outside of it.

  10. Gary Korisko says:

    Very true. Family means well, but often in trying to protect us they limit us. And spot-on with your comment about the box. Another reason why confidence and clarity within is so important. Thanks!

  11. Onder Hassan says:

    Great post Gary,
    It’s a sad fact of life and something i’ve started to experience in my life. The minute I started to take massive action towards my goals, I began to notice strange things happening.
    My friends who I thought were my friends started to disappear, people started to make fun of me for their own benefit. I began to get people disbelieving and rejecting my beliefs and attempting to discourage me from pursuing my goals.

    It reminds me of the analogy regarding crabs in a bucket. If one crab attempts to crawl out of the bucket, all of the other crabs with claw it back into the bucket.
    This is how humans behave with each other. The minute one person attempts to change conventions, you begin to get backlash.

    But try to expect and understand it. It’s all part of the process. It will only serve you well moving forward as it will mean you filtered out the negative people with those who fully support you.

  12. Gary Korisko says:

    Good analogy, Onder. As they say, “Misery loves company.” And I agree that expecting that sort of behavior from certain people is helpful in blowing it off.


  13. Aaron Corder says:

    This is a great article. Sadly, before recently, I was an energy vampire at times. I would be the first to point out a flaw or create a big, negative “what if” situation and completely derail someone’s ideas. It was never intentional, nor did I really see the negative impact I was having. I’m glad to say this has changed and I will be the first person to tell someone they can do whatever they put their mind to. It is already having an immensely positive effect on my life and the lives of people around me. I also know many people who think we are where we are and theres nothing we can do about it. I refuse to believe this now. I hate the saying “It is what it is.” The truth is, it is what you make it.

  14. Jonathon Hockley says:

    “Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and having no original ideas.” lol he did steal a lot of stories from the Brothers Grimm but i’m just critiquing on a small error. This is a great article, it’s the adult equivalent of “Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. As a creative i always find myself in exposed and isolated situations where words could easily knock me over. The principles above are a great help and almost a gospel for any entrepreneur.

  15. Gary Korisko says:

    Don’t beat yourself up, Aaron. I’ll bet that if we’re honest with ourselves – that we would all have to fess up to being negative and bringing others down at some point in our lives. The very cool thing about your story is that you recognized it and did something to make a positive change. That indicates some major strength of character in my book.

    Thank you for sharing that!

  16. Gary Korisko says:

    Touche, Jonathon. But the Brothers Grimm can’t claim Donald or Mickey. Just saying. :)

    I hear you about feeling exposed as a creative. As a matter of fact, I’m currently writing a series of guest posts about developing confidence as a writer for another blog. It takes confidence, thick skin, and focus to let all that negativity and doubt slide off your back. Great comment!

  17. Great article, Gary! How many great ideas and opportunities do we let fade away because of a weak moment and an insistent energy vampire! Stubbornness, I have found, seems to provide some resistance… :)

  18. Bobbi Emel says:

    Great stuff, Gary. I love the ‘honor roll’! It’s really helpful to see very successful people who have persisted in spite of naysayers. Well done!

  19. Gary Korisko says:

    Amen! I agree that pig-headedness has its virtues. Thanks, Kimberly.

  20. Gary Korisko says:

    I like hearing those types of perseverance stories, too Bobbi. It’s encouraging, isn’t it? Thank you for the comment.

  21. Bradey Varner says:

    Gary, great article! I am a young man in college right now and I can honestly say that this is a daily occurrence for me right now. Whether it be when I am trying to improve my fitness level, or find a job, or talk to a woman. Sad to say it usually gets me down. I am going to try to use Michael Z. Miller’s approach and recognize the problem coming then laugh at the vampire.

  22. Gary Korisko says:

    Bradey – Once you recognize that those people are coming from a place of (their own) misery, it makes it easier to blow them off. It’s just not worth the drain on your energy to deal with it. Blow them off. Best of luck!

  23. Rynessa Cutting says:

    it’s really unfortunate but many times the naysayers are the people who you trust and depend on for support. it sounds really egotistical when you say that your sibling or friend or whoever is jealous of you but sometimes that’s just the harsh reality of the situation. it is important to know what you want and go get it without needing approval or encouragement because you may not always get it.

  24. Gary Korisko says:

    You’re right. Both about being able to get it yourself – and about it being unfortunate when those closest to you aren’t your biggest fans.

    I always say “The cavalry isn’t coming.” Which to me means that while I appreciate my supporters, at the end of the day it’s all really up to me. And in a way, that’s really empowering!

    Thanks for joining in, Rynessa!

  25. Morgan Decker says:

    Negative Nancy’s are the worst, love this post! I am doing very well in my life right now and I’m in a very happy place, and I’ve been getting a lot of negative nancy’s and “haters” with back-lashing and discouraging comments (probably out of jealousy ;)) but it is just awful and mean, why can’t everyone just be nice!

  26. Gary Korisko says:

    Negative Nancy :) Isn’t she related to Debbie Downer?

    Human nature is a funny thing – but it sounds like you’ve risen above. Thanks, Morgan!

  27. Marianne says:

    Ooh great post Gary! I come up against this ALL the time, but the negativity comes from no one else but ME! I keep comparing myself to others and thinking, “Oh I will never be that creative,” etc. This is why I’ve been trying to figure out what to blog about/start a business on for almost 4 years now! The good thing is, this year, I decided to put the negative thoughts at bay and I’ve been making more progress than ever. But the negative Nancy in me still wants to come up from time to time. I’ve just been ignoring her as much as I can :)

  28. Gary Korisko says:

    Hey, Marianne

    We all have that little devil on our shoulder whispering scary, negative things. Sounds like you’ve realized it and taken control of the situation. Thanks for commenting!

  29. talhah al hafiz says:

    nice article. just in time to motivate me to do something, in time i am down. may god bless you. thank you very much for the effort. keep on writing dude. cheers.. :)

  30. Jen says:

    The honor roll is incredibly inspiring! I’m going to print it out and put it up where I will see it every day. It will remind me to never give up. :)

  31. Gary Korisko says:

    Thank you Tallah. I’m glad the post helped you – and thanks for commenting!

  32. Gary Korisko says:

    That’s a great idea, Jen. Thanks for sharing that. (and for commenting!)

  33. Andrea says:

    Hey Gary

    This was spot on. I always feel people are laughing at my dreams, and telling me I cannot make them. Probably that is why It has taken me so long to start working on my dreams.
    We will find negativity all over, but as you said I discovered that when they do this, it is not your problem but their problem. They are probably projecting their fears on us.

    Looking back I see that when I believed in what I wanted to do 100%,, other people warnings did not affect me. When I was not so sure of what I could do, their comments affected me.

    Thanks for a great post.

  34. Gary Korisko says:

    Thank you, Andrea. Interesting comment you made about how others opinions didn’t affect you so much when you were 100% clear on your plans. That’s a great point we should all think about!

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