One of the questions I get asked when I’m speaking about creating the world you want by focusing on the good things around you, is “What should I do when all my friends and family just don’t get it and are really negative about my dreams?”
There are two answers to this question – an easy one that’s really hard to do, and a hard one that’s much easier.
Change the people you love
The easy answer is: change the people you hang around with. It’s generally accepted that we tend to take on the mindset of those we spend most time with. Some even go as far as to say that your income will be the average of the incomes of the 10 people you hang around with most. So if you’re spending a lot of time with poor people who just want to rain on your parade, then it makes sense to change them.
And that’s where the easy answer is hard to actually do. You can’t change your family. You probably don’t even want to. Changing your friends is easier – except you probably have even less desire to dump them. You can decide to spend less time with them, as your view of the world diverges from theirs. But do you really want to?
You can’t change your family, but you could get some new friends, a new group of people who are on the same path as you, who understand what you’re about these days, who are truly supportive of your dreams. Except that none of them will ever replace that best friend who’s known you since kindergarten, with whom you share all those delicious memories of youthful pleasures (and misdemeanours).
So while it’s great advice to make sure you are hanging out with positive, supportive people who ‘get’ what you’re about, dumping those you love and who love you is a much harder decision.
So what about the hard answer, that’s easy to put into action?
Love the people you change
Love your friends and family. That’s it. It’s something you do anyway, that’s why it’s easy to do.
What’s that you say? It’s not so easy when they seem to be hell bent on dragging you down, on stopping you from moving forward, on keeping you back with them so they don’t get left behind? Oh yeah, I forgot that bit.
That’s where the answer gets a bit more difficult.
What you do is to love them for how they are, for everything that they do, for caring about you. That’s right – caring about you. Why do you think your Mum doesn’t want you to chuck in the boring job? Or why your best friends don’t want you to take that course? Or your brother tells you not to start that business. Or your sister tells you to be realistic and accept that work’s not much fun? Are they jealous? Vindictive? Out to get you?
Not if they are proper friends. Not if they love you. It’s because they are afraid for you. They don’t know what you know, they don’t know how powerful you can be, they don’t know the world is waiting for you. All they know is, they don’t want to see you get hurt. They don’t know that the man who never made a mistake never made anything worth having, that the only way to learn is to risk failing. They’ve never even heard of “failing forward”, and they’ve certainly forgotten that many successful people went bust at least once on their way to the top.
So they see their job as protecting you. Protecting you from yourself, that is, from this new, unreasonable-dreamer, I-can-do-anything, I-will-only-accept-me-at-my-best self. Because they care enough about you to risk pissing you off with their words of caution, of reason … of love.
In return, all you need to do is to love them back, to be grateful that they want to keep you safe, to enjoy their genuine deep caring for you. And to love them so much that you go ahead and succeed anyway. Not in spite of them, but in sight of them – so they can see your shining energy as you set the example for them to follow.
Because they will, eventually, you know. They’ll start to wonder what it is that you’ve found that makes you so happy, so purposeful, so powerful. And after a while, especially as you achieve more and more, they’ll start to think “I want some of that!”
A lot of people think that you show your love for the people close to you by trying to make them better, by persuading them to join you on your journey so they don’t miss out, by dragging them (kicking and screaming if needs be) into your better new world. It’s for their own good, after all, you reason. That’s completely backwards – who are you to tell them they’ve got it wrong? Who are you to say what’s right for you is right for them?
We each have our own unique talents, and the way they are doing things may be absolutely perfect for them, to use their talents to the full. And if it’s not, the best way to help them to find their perfect way of being, is to find yours, to love them for who and what they are, and to lead by example.
Shortly after Daniela and I first met, we were both reasonably successful. She was running HR for a bank in the City, and I was managing multi-million-pound key accounts for a global corporate. We had a pretty good life, nice house, executive car, luxury holidays. And we both wanted a bit more out of life.
I took off down the business route – an MBA, new job, better car. And Daniela started looking into the more spiritual side of things – meditation, reiki, healing. For a while our paths diverged, but we carried on loving each other, and appreciating and respecting each other’s path. And now, Daniela’s healing business is very successful, and I’m a very conscious and business spiritual coach.
If Daniela had insisted right then that I needed to follow her down the consciousness track, I know I’d have resisted – hard! And if I had tried to force Daniela to take a more business-like approach right from the off, she’d have hated it. We gave each other space, we’ve both been loved, and we’ve both been changed.
In the end, you see, you don’t love people by changing them, you change people by loving them.