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5 Ways Your Negative Friends Can Drag You Down

Maybe you’ve experienced this, too. When you made a commitment to try to live your best life, to start a side-business in the other 8 hours, to lose weight, or to go back to school, weren’t you flooded with acceptance, enthusiasm, and unconditional support from your friends, colleagues, and family? No? I didn’t think so. All too often, if you try to better yourself, you will likely face negativity and pessimism from those who are closest to you. Why would those who care about you the most also be the most critical? There are only two reasons.

They either don’t want to see you fail or they don’t want to see you succeed. It’s that simple. They’re either trying to “protect” you from defeat, or they’re worried that you might succeed. I’ve seen this time and time again. Misery loves company and despises success. If you catapult your life to a new level, your friends may feel threatened and left behind.

That criticism might arrive in obvious forms: “That’s a stupid idea,” or it might be the less blatant but equally deflating kind: “That’s interesting. Good luck with that.” It’s going to hurt. It might throw you so much that you decide to give up before you even get started. I don’t want this to happen to you. So let’s go through some of the more common criticisms you’ll hear and try to understand why those who mean the most can also be the meanest.

  1. “You’ve tried [fill in the blank] before and it didn’t work.”
    That’s probably true. Sometimes it takes several attempts to achieve something. Failing once, twice, or even two dozen times has no power or influence over your next attempt. In fact, for drug and alcohol addiction counseling, relapse is anticipated. It’s not shameful — it’s simply part of recovery.
  2. “You’ve never done [fill in the blank] before.”
    Just because you haven’t done something before doesn’t mean you can’t do it in the future. I think one of the biggest hurdles to achieve change is putting too much weight on the past — what you’ve done, what you haven’t done, etc. Tomorrow isn’t determined by yesterday. Whatever you’re trying to achieve, start small. Learn the ropes. Take classes. But just start. The first step might feel awkward, but you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes you’ve just got to take the plunge.
  3. “Don’t you know most people fail?”
    People fail all the time. You’ve got to know that going in and not be surprised if your first or fifth or fifteenth attempt doesn’t work out as well as you’d hoped. Of course, a swing and a miss doesn’t have to be the end of the ball game. Keep your eye on the prize. Focus on your dream and on what you can control. Look around. Not everybody fails. There are millions of people who are flourishing, and there’s no reason why you can’t have a richer life, too.
  4. “That’s an interesting idea/invention, but I just don’t think people will buy it.”
    Who died and made this person Donny Deutsch? This is probably the most common response you’ll hear when starting a business or inventing a product, and it can instantly flush all of your hope and excitement down the toilet. This is why I encourage you not to tell your family/friends about your specific idea until you’ve done some of your own research. Test your ideas online very cheaply using Google Adwords by running a text ad for your idea and seeing the response rate.  Get some outside feedback. Maybe your idea really is stupid, but no one person can know this. Do a little research and find out for sure.
  5. “Are you sure you want to face rejection and failure?”
    History is littered with people who were rejected but who persevered. For example, there was once a writer who had an idea for a book about a boy wizard. She took this idea to twelve publishers and they all told her, “No way and no thanks.” Finally, a little London publisher took a chance and published “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Be prepared for negativity and to hear your family and friends criticize your desire for a better life. Don’t let it throw you off track. Use it to propel you forward. Of course, if it gets to be too much, you could always fire your negative friends.

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Photo credit: Dwayne Tucker