You’d think they all be cheering you all the way, but sometimes our nearest and dearest do the opposite when we make bold changes. So find some new pompom wavers.

Family and friends aren’t necessarily our best advocates, allies and cheerleaders when we’re making big, brave plans or starting a long-cherished project.

They’ve witnessed us at close range, possibly over a number of years and don’t see us as independent, autonomous people outside of the family. If they’ve seen the false starts – the exercise bike in the garage that has ended up as something you throw your clothes over, that novel you’ve started and not finished – they see you as a starter not a finisher. “Oh no, not another-hair brained scheme” they think, dismissively.

Well sometimes you need to have a run at something a few times before you get good at it. People knock us down just because they know our history and what happened with those unfinished projects; but just because we haven’t seen our plans through to completion in the past it doesn’t mean we won’t in the future.

““Sometimes you need to have a run at something a few times before you get good at it.””

Unfortunately when people are judgmental or negative we think that that must be how it is for us then, because we’re not giving the best view of ourselves – but we know deep down that we’re capable of so much more. Parents can be dismissive, can make children feel particularly inadequate, even if those children are in their 50s. Some of us never stop worrying what our parents think of us and this can hold us back.

Some of our friends can be negative because they feel threatened. In saying you want to change the way you live or make your living you’re holding up a mirror and it makes them look at their own lives. And if they’re living in a comfort zone life they feel threatened when you choose to branch out. Inside they’re thinking “What makes you think you can do that when I don’t think I could?”. They feel quite affronted in the same way friends do if you lose weight. Taking away the friendship group’s excuses for taking action makes them feel threatened.

Having someone around you who has no agenda and is unconditionally supportive frees you to explore your real desires and strengths without the judgment of people who tend to put you in a box. That’s why having the support of someone neutral but who really gets you is vital, whether that’s a community, a network or a coach. It means you don’t have to explain yourself. And it’s a wonderful feeling to be understood.

With a coach you get support to explore what you do and don’t want, without judgement. In networking groups most people will get what you’re planning to do and cheer you on. Whereas family and friends will say “What are you doing that for?” and “What’s that going to cost you?”. They mean well but don’t understand.

And those limiting beliefs that we have about ourselves – that we’re a failure, that we never finish anything, that we’re not the kind of person good things happen to – well having family and friends around may unwittingly perpetuate these beliefs. They can collude with them, or even come up with them. Statements like “You’re just like me, you’re shy too” and “People like us never get the breaks” thrust these limiting beliefs on us and we look for the evidence to prove it. We perpetrate the limiting beliefs that our family automatically give us when we should be challenging them.

““Being surrounded by a tribe can challenge your limiting beliefs.””

Being surrounded by a tribe can challenge your limiting beliefs. So think about what you believe about yourself and what you deserve and start to hang out with people who see something a bit better in you, who don’t see you in terms of that script you’ve always listened to.

You need people around you who see how great you are, challenge your limiting beliefs and give you advice on how to get past them. Whereas friends and family may be less empathetic, especially if they do a similar type of work to you and you’re toying with the idea of trying something new. They’re literally not going to get you.

Sometimes you want to talk about what you do with someone who gets what you’re talking about. So don’t listen to the naysayers, the friends and family who say “It’ll never work” and “You know you’re always making plans that never come to anything”. Listen to people like you.

Words: Carole Anne Rice,

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