Turn Setbacks into Setups

How to Ignore Naysayers and Pave Your Own Road to Success

January 19, 2019

Here’s a sad truth: no matter how amazing your ambitions are, you’re going to face your fair share of naysayers.


We’ve all met our own “negative Nellies” (both male and female), who love to discourage us from improving upon our own lives. These naysayers can be anywhere—coworkers, acquaintances, or even the people we’re meant to trust most, like our close friends and family.


Want to know a secret to help you keep things in perspective? Most of the time, naysayers act out because they’re afraid. That’s right: naysayers project their own fears and doubts onto you. Or they’re afraid you’ll change for the better and leave them behind, or they simply (and wrongfully) believe that everyone is as afraid as they are of leaving their comfort zone.


But how do you respond to your naysayers without losing sight of your goals and values? Learn how to understand naysayer behavior and how to block out your critics with these tips.


What behavior should you look out for?


The straight-faced “joker.” This person likes to “joke” about how your dreams are impossible—but most of the time, they’re really just flat-out telling you they think you won’t make it. (“Wait, you’re thinking of starting your own business? Shouldn’t you keep your day job and leave that as a hobby?”)


The saboteur. This kind of naysayer actively sabotages you, helping ensure that you fail before you’ve really even started. (“Aw, you don’t want to quit drinking tonight! Let’s have a drink together.”)


The storyteller. This naysayer is always ready to pull a tall tale out of their pocket, including anecdotal failure stories and cautionary tales about your goals. (“My cousin tried to shut down all of her social media accounts once, too—but today, she’s back on more sites than ever.”)


The lecturer. This person has a list of all the negatives, the dangers, and the statistics related to your goals, and they’re more than ready to shake your self-confidence. (“If you do a juice cleanse, you’ll get sick and all your hair will start falling out!”)


How do you respond?


  1. Consider their statement. Is this person being a naysayer, or do they have valid insights to share? In other words, are they coming from a place of fear or love? If they’re simply projecting their own fears onto you, it’s time to stop entertaining their petty statements.


  1. Be selective about sharing. While it’s generally a good idea to share goals (as it keeps us accountable), be very careful about who you choose to tell. It’s better to keep this info to supportive people you trust, avoiding potential naysayers entirely.


  1. Tune them out. Don’t engage in discussion with naysayers. Instead, just ignore them, or keep to simple replies like “Okay.” Once you start fighting them, you’re just giving them more time to get into your head and shake your self-confidence.


  1. Cut them out of your life. Obviously, this is very extreme—but at the very least, you should reduce contact with your naysayers. And when someone is constantly dragging you down instead of lifting you up, it may be time to cut ties with them entirely.


  1. Focus on your vision of yourself. Naysayers put a negative picture into your mind, coloring your dreams with fear. And the best way to combat this is to think back to what you want to achieve, picturing your own success.


If you only remember one thing about naysayers, remember that they’re coming at you from a place of fear. Don’t take their statements personally, just work on creating some mental distance and getting out of the situation as soon as possible. And most importantly, keep focusing on what’s most important to you: the goals and ambitions you’re striving for.

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