Dear B. Scott:

I want to follow my dreams, but my friends and family don’t support me at all and tear me down when I talk about my plans…what should I do?

Unfortunately, my dear love muffin, there are times in life when you need to recognize the hard truths: You can’t always expect other people to believe in your dreams as much as you do.  Yes, it hurts.  And yes, it’s a painful realization but it’s important to recognize that not everyone is going to support you as you go after your dreams and aspirations. 

In her New York Times bestselling book PUSH life coach and fitness celebrity Chalene Johnson says the key in staying positive as you reach for your dreams is by surrounding yourself with with positive people who don’t weigh you down with negativity. [p.165]  Those individuals who don’t support you in your successes Johnson calls “Success Suckers,” and many times these are the people in your life who you are desperate to impress. 

Often times we internalize what “Success Suckers” do to us. For example, we take it personally when we call them to share a milestone and they give us tepid praise or try to diminish our accomplishment.  This type of person is never going to be happy for you and your success because they are not happy with themselves.  When someone isn’t happy with themselves and haven’t decided what they want to be successful in, it’s nearly impossible for them to give you loving support.  They see you doing something successful and it makes them feel like less than in comparison. 

Eliminate these people from your life. While it’s true that not all of them are trying to be malicious their presence only serves to bring you down.  As my grandmother used to say when I was a little boy back on the farm, you’re only as good as the company you keep. If you find that there are people in your life who are a negative influence there is no need for a dramatic confrontation.  You can simply create distance from them slowly over time and focus on those companions you do have.  This space will hopefully give them time to figure out what they want to do with their own lives while allowing you to stay positive and focused.  Even though you cannot understand why they are the way they are it isn’t your job to figure them out.  You don’t need to have them in your life. Don’t be afraid to give certain people the “heave-ho.”

At the end of the day it’s about stepping out on faith and focusing on those people in your life who truly support you.  Don’t focus on who doesn’t support you; Surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams and encourage you.  How can you expect people who aren’t happy with themselves, not going after their dreams, or haven’t even identified their own dreams to support you in yours? I believe in you love muffin…and if you believe in yourself, that’s all you need! 

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