You should always be protective of your dreams. I always wonder how to navigate the well meaning support of loved ones. I’m so fortunate that my family and friends can be so supportive of my life choices. Yet, I am still careful about what details I share about my hopes and dreams with others, even with family. Here are three scenarios for you to consider with strategies to cope with your subconscious saboteurs.
Subconscious Saboteur #1
A loved one and I were chatting about my business. And while they meant well, they ended the conversation suggesting I tone down my dreams. I spoke briefly about my financial goals in my new venture. They suggested I should just be happy if it supplements my husband’s income. Any entrepreneur/creative/dreamer can see the ouch in this I hope! While I know this statement was meant with love (they want to protect me from hurt or disappointment), clearly they do not believe my venture can pay out as I intend it too. This is a limit on my dreams and goals. IF that is all I reach for, how will I ever achieve more?! As a teacher and brief teacher evaluator I can assure you the teachers who anticipate little of students always get what they expect.
How to Protect your Dreams
Yes, it is important to be realistic about your goals and dreams. Consider having a timeline for yourself to know whether your aims and the time you hope to achieve them in is realistic. Use the timeline to help you reflect on your choices and either change direction or to build upon your efforts. But, share your goals and timeline very carefully. If you have done your homework and research to really be committed and prepared for your goals, be sure you only ask advice or present the information to trustworthy people who have the experience to inform your choices. The person who gave me this advice knows little about online entrepreneurship, so how can they possibly know how appropriate my financial goals are?! Despite knowing this, it still stings, because my aim is higher.
Subconscious Saboteur #2
I confided in this person how I am coping with my perfectionist nature while I create art. I’m drawn to certain imagery right now because it helps stay the critical voice in my head. (Who really cares if the flowers don’t match my image reference perfectly? It’s a reference and inspiration for me, I will know when the work is resolved and successful). My loved one’s response? “Well, I want to look at the photograph and compare.” Again this was done with teasing love, but I caught myself wondering and judging my work this other morning while I was painting. This triggered my perfectionist nature, which can slow or even block my creativity.
How to Protect your Dreams
In this scenario I’m reminded that our particular audience for the conversation is important. This individual is a perfectionist to a destructive level. Choosing to share this new insight with them was a huge threat to their worldview. And while I hope for them to change, that is their choice, not mine. I will not be bringing up discussions that deal with perfectionism or details of making my art with this person. They are excited for my projects, but can’t bear to deal with the strategies I use to ensure my art’s success. This was exactly the wrong person to share my new approach to making art. I’m sure the right friend is out there to listen, hear and support me.
Subconscious Saboteur #3
I have had a couple friends confide in me they are jealous of my life choices (traveling, working on my art, getting married, etc.). In one conversation, a friend noted how everyone is “messed up” and then suggested that since I have ulcerative colitis that obviously I’m messed up too. And that when they are feeling jealous, they should remember this fact to comfort themselves. I was so stunned I didn’t reply. And being a slow processor, it took two days before I realized just how hurt I felt. There is a difference between making choices in life that have consequence that make you feel “messed up” and having a disease you did nothing to bring into your life. Not to mention I don’t believe everyone is “messed up!” I genuinely believe this person had no intention of hurting me, only they were not thinking about my feelings. And that is the problem.
How to Protect your Dreams
You must remember that as you make positive changes in your life it threatens the status quo of everyone around you. If you ever make the decision to move outside of your home country, for example, that is a choice that can really rile people up. I was told all kinds of stories. People were scared by my choice because it makes them look at their own. Listen carefully to the people around you. Their words can have much power and express much that the conscious individual does not acknowledge in themselves. Why, in my example above, did this person call everyone “messed up?” That is very different than saying people make poor choices. (The latter infers people make mistakes and have opportunity to change and grow, where as “messed up” suggests a permanence few deserve). We must protect ourselves from people who inadvertently hurt us. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that they have hurt you or that their words can. If they are true friends or family, they will hear you and be more conscious of their words around you. If they can’t handle your honesty, even as hard as it is, you must reconsider that relationship.
My decisions and current choices threaten A LOT of people. I started on such a traditional path. School, school and more school. Name brand schools. Good jobs. Promotions. And I’ve left it. And not only have I left it, I’m happier than ever!
If you start making changes in your life, I’m not going to lie to you: people you care about may become a subconscious saboteur.
I keep reading things that emphasize the importance of the people you surround yourself with. Scott Dinsmore repeatedly emphasizes the importance of spending time with people you really want to be like or admire. I agree we need to be thoughtful about the people we surround ourselves with each and every day. Yet, I would go one step further. We need to protect our specific goals and dreams. We need to be careful with whom we share different details of those successes with, because even people who care about you can be saboteurs. And while I believe some of my loved ones do this subconsciously, that is even more dangerous. People who fully believe they have your best intentions at heart can give you advice about something they know nothing about and/or communicate unconscious messages in their misguided attempts to support you. Because you trust and value them, that communication can bring you down. We all have an ability to talk to our loved ones. Communicate! Tell them what you need for your support. And if they still try to hold you back? Give yourself some distance. Your dreams are worth more.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Reflect on your current creative goals. Has someone in your life shown you support, or subconscious sabotage? Make a list of people you know you can confide in and use for support.
Dear Carrie, I know EXACTLY how you feel when it comes to people saying ‘maybe you should scale down your Dreams’. Every situation is different with every person, and I always do my very best to understand where someone is coming from, so to gain the best way for understanding and communication.
This topic, however, is one that burns hotly for me. If someone told me that I should ‘scale down my dreams’ I would fire them on the spot as a friend, “The door is that way, don’t let it hit your ass on the way out” Yes, that is very strong statement, but that is my commitment to my Dream. I am in the process of spending less and less time with people who do not support my Dream’s ambitions, weather because of jealousy or fear, and it feels AMAZING!
When you are done your Days on this world, what you have is the memories and friends you made along the way, you want them to be as bright as possible, filled with adventures and smiles.
Damien, thank you. It certainly brings comfort to know other creatives hold their loved ones to a certain standard. And I think all of us can use reminding at times that dreaming big is a good thing. Amen to bright friends and days filled with adventure and smiles! Best wishes to you on your creative journey! 🙂
Thank you for your honesty and openness in developing this. Undoubtedly you have a lot of first-hand experiences that are meaningful and worthwhile sharing. I’m impressed with the method you have employed here: “How to….” as opposed to ” Don’t….”
At the beginning of the 1900’s Edison was trying to develop a storage battery for use in automobiles. During the process he was interviewed by reporters who commented: ” Mr. Edison you have tried over 4000 recipes and every one failed so are you going to give up?” Edison replied: not so as I now know 4000 ways that do not work that I did not know before. In other words, there was great value in his work to date. And this certainly applies to all creative industries!
You are welcome! I felt extremely vulnerable writing this, but it is usually those times that our art (writing, painting, whatever) can help others most. Everyone has a story to share! Resilience is so powerful – go Edison! It might take 4001 attempts, but if has importance to us and we feel called to act, it’s worth every single trial.
Thank you for your contribution!
Wow Carrie, what an amazing post! So many of the people who are really close to us don’t always understand the dreamer mentality and being stuck in their own ‘realistic’ and ‘logical’ thinking, they say and do things that can easily crush such a delicate dream. That is why having a mentor or coach is so helpful and very much needed for many people. Thanks for this post!
Thank you so very much. You are absolutely right – not everyone has a dreamy mentality. Being careful about whom and how we share our dreams can help protect our goals as we build a foundation for them to grow. Thanks for reading Artist Think!
“they ended the conversation suggesting I tone down my dreams. I spoke briefly about my financial goals in my new venture. They suggested I should just be happy if it supplements my husband’s income.”
==> With all due respect, toning down your dreams is silly. Always dare to dream big. If you can’t achieve something yet, you might still be able to in a few years’ time. And I believe you do not do this just for the money. At the core of it, there is something deeper, and that is why you have big dreams.
“And that when they are feeling jealous, they should remember this fact to comfort themselves.”
==> What!?!? Sorry to say and with all due respect again, your friends have a very “loserish” attitude towards life!
“You must remember that as you make positive changes in your life it threatens the status quo of everyone around you.”
==> Very true and important to know. They will say that isn’t the case, but very often IT IS. It’s a natural tendency and only when we search deep in ourselves will we realise we are being threatened. And those are the lucky few who will start doing something with their lives. That’s why Jim Rohn’s quote is so powerful. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
One thing about your close/loved ones being a subconscious saboteur. It may be love but it’s not loving the right away. To me, yes, even something like loving a person right can be learnt. But most people won’t bother. It’s all about what THEY think is right. This is normal. This is average.
The person who knows about personal development will have a deeper understanding of themselves. They will know that subconsciously they are being threatened, and that they should either change their lives, or ensure that it doesn’t rub off on people actually pursuing their dreams.
I like that your solutions to each of the 3 saboteurs are labelled as “how to protect your dreams.” Haha. Very cool, and indeed, protect them because they are yours. They are sacred.
Appreciate you sharing this, Carrie. Please carry on what you do because it matters.
Many thanks Jeremy for your thoughts. I have no intention of quitting. When I moved to live in the Middle East, I became an example and a tool of education for all those in my periphery who think being over here means I’m surrounded by crazy zealots and I have to wear a bullet proof vest. This is another opportunity to lead by example and show people the power they have within themselves.
Hi Carrie! I see you. It hurts, really, especially with close ones, I know (mother or partner, for example! I lived it recently with my calendar’s project 😉 )
Things I am working with right now related to this:
– Don’t take it personally. What they are telling you is their story, not yours. Their fears, rejections, everything, has to do with who they are and what they had experienced and lived… not with YOU
– Nevertheless, and because everything is interconnected, I look inside to check where and when and how I am refraining / neglecting / doubting / whatever myself, what resonates somewhere unconsciously with what I’m being told 🙂
Thanks for your posts! <3
Thank you so much for your thoughts and well wishes. Sometimes I think it can be our own fears that we see in others, which is another reason to be guarded and protective of our dreams! It is absolutely their story not mine, such good advice. It’s amazing what we can bring out in others when we start challenging our status quo 🙂 Best wishes to you and thank you!
I’ve had a subconscious (and sometimes conscious) saboteur in my life for many years. About 10 years ago I started to break free from his opinions, and it’s rocked the boat enough to make it sink. It turns out to be the b a good thing. I’ll have a lot less stress and feel more free when it’s over.
Linda, thank you for sharing your story. It’s powerful to make a decision to protect and harness our creativity and can also be life changing. I hope that less stress and the freedom you speak of finds you much sooner than later.
Thanks 🙂 Me too. I’m not accepting any more postponements
Ms. Carrie, I believe all your advice about creativity speaks directly to me. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience which in turns solidifies the fact that I am not alone in my endeavors and struggles.
You are most welcome Benn. You are certainly not alone!
Benn thank you very much for being here!
When I was in college, I had several professors who were angry at their life’s choices and took it out on the students. The students, however, took their opinions very seriously, and I watched so many dreams die there. These teachers never said anything to my face, but I knew they bad mouthed me behind my back. My peers would come up to me, practically in tears, saying what these teachers had told them, and I’d be like, “They say that to everyone! You can’t take them seriously.”
I never understood why they focused so much of their attention on destroying goals, and when I asked, one of them told me he didn’t want to see them disappointed. I was like, “You think you’re not disappointing them now?”
Your words about people’s decision threatening other’s perception of reality and status quo really made sense to me, and I think that that’s exactly what they were doing.
Daveler thank you for sharing your experience with me. Yes, people are threatened when someone decides to think bigger than they did, because: what does that mean about their choices?! It’s a sad place for anyone to be, but it makes me sad, and angry about, their impact on others.
What a great article, Carrie!! I am so much more careful who I surround myself with anymore. And the times that I have no control over it, I try to consider the source.
Hi Becky! Thanks for reading. I am too. And you are right, we can’t always control who we are around, but keeping the source in mind can offer some solace. Thanks for sharing and as always, for being part of this community.