In our society, there are some deep-seated, traditional beliefs that as humans, we must stay true to our childhood, adolescent or adult selves; that we must not deviate from the identity we once created, even if it didn’t serve anyone, least of all ourselves. When we see others grow, improve, create or win, we automatically resist their development with immense force.
But this resistance helps no one, only causing friendships to walk on shaky ground.
The truth is, it hurts when your friends don’t support you in becoming your best self. It weighs you down when family members meet your new business with negativity. And it’s a knife in the heart when your inner circle doesn’t believe in (or entirely ignores) your goals and achievements.
As a new and aspiring business owner, it’s common place to receive a surge of negativity. The ‘it-wont-work’ crew always have more than two cents to deliver, backed with little more than a hearsay anecdote as evidence to support their case.
As you set bigger goals in your life and go on to climb the proverbial mountain and achieve various levels of success, you then begin to hear the old adage, “You’ve changed.”
From there, a new level of negativity ensues. People resent you for demonstrating focus, discipline and dedication on pursing your dreams.
Let me be clear; I’ll accept all levels of constructive criticism and absorb all feedback. Then I’ll filter that feedback into two groups; that which isn’t productive or useful, and that which fosters positive change and growth.
To follow, I’ve listed five ways to handle unsupportive friendships. These situations are difficult to navigate, and I genuinely hope you gain some positivity and perspective from these steps.
1. Always embrace change and growth. Throughout your life, you are going to change, and that’s a good thing. This means you are learning, evolving, improving and processing new information. We should never stop learning, no matter our age! No one is born the perfect person and, therefore, we should all be trying to improve for the rest of our lives.
2. Unveil the truth behind discouragement. Sometimes your development will make others uncomfortable. In which case, it’s important to understand that their reactions are NOT a reflection of YOU, but a reflection of themselves.
- Perhaps they are concerned about the goals or aspirations they haven’t achieved. They are feeling left behind or having regrets about the actions they didn’t take. Your success makes them feel worse about themselves. In reality, their happiness should have nothing to do with whether you succeed; there’s enough success for everyone.
- They may be staying silent because they have no idea about the industry, or the product or service you’re providing. They feel their feedback or assistance would be futile.
- Maybe their criticism is based on one on-the-ground experience rather than a broader, more holistic perspective supported by data and research.
3. Identify your responsibilities and priorities. To cope with the negativity, get comfortable with who you are and the mission you’re on so you can deflect that negativity. If your goals are bigger than you, you’ll always come back to your mission. Stay focused on the big picture; what are you trying to achieve in your life? If it’s important to you, it should matter more than the ‘friend’ who isn’t being supportive.
4. Become economical with your time. If friends aren’t aligned with your goals and values, or don’t understand your trajectory, it may be time to audit the people you spend your time with. If they are unsupportive or negative, you can become briefer with your replies and less frequent with your catchups. If they are downright harmful, you may want to cut them entirely. You can love many people from a distance, and that’s ok.
5. Create a circle of support. Once you’ve audited the negativity, focus on people who are positive, productive and helpful. Spend more time with friends who are aligned. We are all busy with elderly parents, young kids, careers, businesses, life admin… the list goes on. That’s why it’s so important to spend your time wisely with people who foster your growth and embrace this better version of you.
Once you become really focused on your mission, the service you want to provide or the amount of people you hope to help, you can be comfortable with who you are and what you’re working towards. This invites you to shed any of the concerns you have about what others may or may not think of you.
Ultimately, it’s not up to other people to be constantly cheering you on from the sidelines. It’s up to YOU to cheer yourself on from the inside.
Is it time to cut the bullsh*t out of your life? Go chase your dreams!