A 3-Step Technique To Bust Through Other People's Negativity

Written by Maria Stenvinkel

“I don’t believe what you’re doing will pay off.”

The words almost crushed me — especially coming from someone whose opinion I valued. A few months earlier, I had quit my job to start my own business and finally create a life I truly desired. Up until then I had felt fairly certain of my new endeavors, but I was suddenly filled with self-doubt. If other people didn’t believe in what I was doing, was I a fool to believe in myself?

Whenever you’re pursuing a dream — whether it’s a business, a relationship, or even a vegan diet — people are bound to comment on it. No matter how many of these comments are positive, it’s always the negative ones that tend to stick like a parasite. They can slowly shatter your enthusiasm and vision.

If he didn’t believe in what I was doing, was I a fool to believe in myself?

If you’ve been bruised by discouraging comments in the pursuit of your aspirations, use this three-step method to turn the negativity into inspiration:

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Step 1: Acknowledge and accept.

Some people may dismiss your new plans by making up worst-case scenarios, highlighting the risks, or offering reasons that you should stay in the same place. People have different perspectives and not everyone is going to agree with you. That's perfectly fine.

But in protecting ourselves from the concerns of others, we often tend to fight back or put up a guard. In doing so, we end up hurting ourselves even more. When we experience pain, our natural tendency is to push it away — but the things you resist always persist.

So, instead of tirelessly arguing your case, learn to let the comments and unwanted advice exist as they are. Next time someone gives you a negative comment, say “yes” to it mentally. That way, you won't resist it emotionally. Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement; it simply means acknowledging reality as it is.

Step 2: Realize that it's not about you.

When I left my corporate job to start a business, a colleague told me that I'd have to work very hard and that I’d have no free time at all during the next few years. This warning caused me to panic, and I quickly wondered what I had gotten myself into. But after a conversation with a friend, I realized that her comment had nothing to do with me. It was just her belief about starting a business, not mine. Her words were a mirror of her fears.

When encountering negativity, make a habit of asking yourself, “Is this person where I want to be in life? Are they doing what I want to be doing?” If not, why should you take advice from them? That's like taking swimming lessons when you want to learn how to mountain climb. Instead, seek guidance from those who already are successful at what you want to be doing, and take the advice of others at face value.

Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement; it simply means acknowledging reality as it is.

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Step 3: Prove them wrong.

Now, I don't mean this in a bad-tempered, I'll-prove-you-wrong, evil-eye kind of way. I mean that achieving your own dreams can be a way to motivate others to achieve theirs.

A headstrong pursuit of your dreams can inspire and motivate the negative people in your life by proving them wrong. You can show them that dreams actually can become reality. Whenever you hit a roadblock in your journey, take a moment to visualize all the people who will benefit from your success, including the ones who are doubting you. Trust that your dreams coming to full fruition will benefit everyone.

It’s not easy to see your dream temporarily shattered in pieces when someone strikes you with a verbal dig. But you ultimately hold the power to let others break you or make you. You can let negativity stop you or fuel you. You can walk the path expected of you or act as an example of how things can be done.

The choice is yours.

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