Well-Intentioned Messages: It’s For Your Own Good!

By SCN Blog Contributor Sylvia Henderson

(c) Sylvia Henderson, Springboard Training. All rights reserved.

“You want to start your own business? That´s terribly risky.”
“You want to go where? But that´s so far.”
“You want a new what? Now, that´s not very practical.”
“You want to leave a ‘good job’ for that idea? How will you take care of your family?”

Any of this sound familiar?

From whom do we most hear these intentionally helpful, yet personally discouraging entreaties? From whose mouths do the “yes, buts” and “you shouldn´ts” and “what ifs” tumble so readily? Those who should be most supportive of us … our loved ones! Our families. Our friends. Our colleagues. We summon the nerve to tell them our inner thoughts, and then we’re sorry we did. Family, friends, and sometimes professional colleagues are skilled at generating a variety of emotions within us. One set of experiences to which we are subjected involves receiving advice “for our own good”.

This seems especially true at holiday time. We gather together with friends and family for holiday visits and meals, and in our excitement over our new ideas we share our ideas with them. Then we hear those words of caution and questioning, albeit spoken with love. For our own good.

Is it really? For our own good? Moreover, how do we handle such advice? In this article, I

  • Identify who typically sends these messages to us,
  • Examine how these messages affect us – especially when we think about sharing our ideas,
  • Offer ways to turn these messages into positive experiences,
    so that we can appreciate the time we spend with the people who make us the craziest in
    our lives.

Our family and friends are usually well meaning in that they speak these words of caution to us to protect us; to warn us. They do not want us to be hurt. Family members typically consider themselves as our true supporters. They think they are being supportive of us and our goals when they tell us about the last time someone they knew tried what we want to try, and failed. They think they are being caring by warning us of the pitfalls of our journey towards fulfilling our goals. They don´t want us to be disappointed or demoralized if we fall short of our success. They want us to be safe in the world, yet by making such suggestions they discourage us from reaching for our dreams. While they mean well, they can be more detrimental to our success than they are beneficial.

Consider how their messages affect us. Their words, when spoken by people whose opinions mean the most to us, feel like “downers” and discouragers. We hear messages underneath the words that tell us we´re not worthy, we are incapable, or we are crazy, disillusioned, or wrong. We know that is not the intended message, yet we cannot help but internalize the messages.

Several years ago, prior to writing my book “Hey, That’s MY Idea! How to Speak Up and Get Recognized for What You Know and Think”, I wrote a book titled “Why You Talk So ‘White’? Eliminate the Behaviors that Sabotage Your Success”. The book is about the behaviors and attitudes we must practice—regardless of race—to succeed professionally and personally. In one chapter I wrote:

“So, you´ve received primarily negative messages throughout your life until today. All
you have heard or been told is that you can´t, you shouldn´t, you won´t, it´s not right for
you to, you´re not expected to because there is no point in your trying. These messages
and more are what you have come to believe of yourself, so you now doubt yourself.
You think that you cannot and, perhaps, should not. Stop right here!”

Let us look at how to turn these messages into positive experiences for ourselves—especially when we want to share our ideas with the people who mean the most to us.

To overcome or balance-out these messages, pause and look beyond the words you hear when our loved ones issue their entreaties. Acknowledge that you hear what they tell us. Then consider the messages they are really trying to convey to you. Consider the following approaches to turn the “for your own good” messages into positive experiences.

  • Find people who communicate positive messages – people in Toastmasters or Optimists
    clubs, or other volunteer organizations who lift our spirits and share positive perspectives on life. Attend meetings. Make lunch dates with these people. Pick up the phone to talk with them.
  • Say to your negative-message family members or friends, “See you later. I have something that is important that I have to do” during the coming weeks and get out among positive people. You need to surround yourselves with each other.
  • Read positive books and biographies of those whom you admire to learn the lessons they learned and discover how they got past the naysayers and roadblocks to their journeys.
  • Listen to audio programs that teach and encourage.
  • Watch uplifting and humorous videos – even those cute dog and baby videos – for laughs and inspiration.
  • Attend a motivational seminar or a light-spirited movie at a theatre for an immersive experience.
  • Subscribe to a daily motivational quotation or meme delivery service so that you receive a positive message every day in your inbox.
  • Get away from the family “noise” and find a quiet place to take time for yourself. Remind yourself of your dreams and goals, and re-commit to implementing your ideas.

Figuratively – and sometimes, literally – disappear into a world that takes you away from the negativity. Allow yourself to return to your wants, needs, wishes, and dreams. Re-kindle your spirit.

Once you renew yourself with positive messages, you can return to your loved ones. You can return to your friends who have the best of intentions for you, and you can appreciate the time you spend with the people who seem to make you the craziest in your life. You can share your ideas and not allow people to dissuade or tread on your dreams.

Replace other people’s well-intentioned messages with your own…and create your own

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