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.
Free Art Challenge: Create an Original Artwork in 10 Days
Play with me in the Soulbrush Sessions: ten days of creative prompts that guide you to your unique artist voice.
It's an experience that shows you something deep down you already know: you’ve always been an artist. Unleash your inner artist --> get stARTed today!
(Enjoy this free bonus when you sign up for Artist Strong's weekly newsletter.)