Naysayers. Those cynical individuals who immediately tell you why something will not work or why you are incapable of doing that which you’ve set your mind to. And of course, these downer folks are always quick to comment, offer their negative feedback, and leave you reeling, thinking “Why did I ever choose to share that with them?” If confronted on their negative-Nelly tendencies, they will defensively retort and claim that they only have your best interest in mind. They don’t want you to fail or hurt yourself. But in all reality, there is a lot more going on behind their negativity and their recurring desire to tear down any positive progress in your life. Let’s unpack this a bit…
- They feel threatened. Though you went to them, trustingly, and shared about your new ideas, ambitions, goals, dreams, and achievements, simply for support, they heard you saying “I am better than you.” “I am on the brink of something exciting and you aren’t.” “I am competent and you are not,” and other such demeaning self-talk. Notice how I bolded the you in these examples. These individuals feel that everything you say to them is really about them. You may have a stellar idea to share, but all they feel, while listening, is that their ideas aren’t as great. So in turn, they self identify as failures.
- What does this lead to?…… NAYSAYING. One of the quickest ways for insecure, threatened people to feel okay with themselves is to bash whatever it is that they perceive will set you above them. But be aware…career naysayers are skilled in being subtle. Passive-agressiviness is often their most handy tool. So instead of degrading your new concept and excitement over it outright, they will come through the back door with slights and snubs. Little comments and facial expressions that give you that odd twinge of tension and self-doubt. You’ll leave the conversation wondering what role that person fills in your life. Friend or foe? Support or wrecking ball? Or sometimes you’ll leave just plain confused. “What just happened back there?! They smiled at me, yet ate my dreams for lunch!”
So what do we do about these friendly foes? And how do we keep pressing forward in spite of the negativity?
- Choose wisely. Be selective about WHO you share with, WHAT you share with them, and WHEN you share. Not everyone should be privy to the deep desires and passions of your heart. I am a classic over sharer. I was deemed the “social butterfly” on way too many school report cards and I know how to keep a conversation going. Sometimes this leads me to over share about things that are sacred to me. Ideas, concepts, plans, etc., that are still in seedling form, and are, in turn, fragile. The same might apply to you? The last thing you need to do is share on a whim with someone who is ready, hoe-in-hand, to uproot what you have been praying about and planning for. Not everyone is a trusty confidant… even those you may assume you could safely share with. So pray for wisdom, discernment, and the ability to know who is FOR you, and what you should share when the right time comes.
- Work your drawbridge. I pulled this imagery from an amazing devotional excerpt by Henri Nouwen. He spoke of the drawbridge as a metaphor for healthy boundaries. It takes time and wisdom to learn when we need to let our drawbridge down, to open our gates and become accessible. Then there are the times when we need to crank it closed and keep people/things from coming in or going out when they don’t need to! The drawbridge is meant as a protective measure. Your fresh, God-inspired ideas are like the crown jewels of your heart. Not everyone should be allowed over your drawbridge, because then, anyone and everyone has access to the valuables. They are open, exposed, and vulnerable. BUT…there are the times when the drawbridge should be lowered. When there is safety and trust to let certain people close; those whom are deserving and able to handle the crown jewels with the utmost care, love, and respect.
- Surround yourself with YAYSAYERS! It’s amazing how many naysayers there are in comparison to yaysayers. The yaysayers are definitely a smaller minority, and so, you may only have a couple that are worthy to stay close to you, within your inner circle. These people are the ones who will actually listen and rejoice with you! They will provide valuable feedback, insights, and encouragement. They have the security and self-assuredness to celebrate your accomplishments without feeling that it’s damaging their own self worth. Your gain is not their loss. And your loss is not their gain.
WE NEED MORE YAYSAYERS!