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How to Survive the Attack of the Debbie Downers

01/19/2015 05:12 EST | Updated 03/21/2015 05:59 EDT

"Do you know how difficult that industry is to get into?"

"You know there's not a lot of work in [insert city here], right? We're in the middle of a recession."

"It's a very competitive line of work. VERY. Are you sure you want to pursue it?"

The above are just a small selection of phrases I've heard throughout my life when I've shared a goal of mine out loud. And you know what? I didn't pay one bit of attention. You see, when you're passionate about something you will give your all to make it work and a couple negative comments here or there won't stop you.

That being said, it doesn't mean those comments don't get under your skin at the time. If that's the case for you, read on my friend. I've stumbled upon some words of wisdom over the years that are right up your street!

It's not about you

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This is likely the hardest pill to swallow, at least it was for me, so let's get it out of the way first. Sorry to break it to you, but it's not about you.

I know negative reactions to your dreams feel deeply personal. I get it. But it says much more about the person saying those things than it does about you. Here's why. If someone is stuck in a situation that is dissatisfying to them and all of a sudden you're breaking free and following your dreams, what does that say about them? At least, that's what they're asking themselves. Ultimately, you really going for it tells them that their excuses are not valid and they are staying in their dissatisfying situation by choice.

This realization can come out in different ways. For example, when I left my career in PR to become a life coach, the response was overwhelmingly positive. However one surprising comment was, "You (expletive beginning with 'B'), you're leaving me!"

I'm not going to lie, I was a little taken aback. Was my life decision something that I did to deliberately hurt this person? Absolutely not. But that's how it was received, and I understood I couldn't control this person's reaction. I could only choose how to perceive it.

Some people have a limit of what is possible for them

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Is this sentiment a little corny? Maybe. True? Abso-freaking-lutely.

The trouble is, some people have a pre-conceived idea of what is possible for them, a glass ceiling if you will. This impacts what they believe is possible for others.

I read an incredible book last summer called Unlimited by the brilliant Jillian Michaels. There was one passage in particular that stuck with me. Basically, it said that if you want a house in the suburbs with 2.4 kids and a steady job, that's fine. In fact, it's expected. But if you say you want a huge waterfront home in Malibu, married to the love of your life and making a fortune doing what you love, people say, "Who the hell do you think you are?"

Now don't get me wrong, it's not about money or about having a huge house. It's about what you want. And if what you want doesn't fall in line with someone's expectation of what is possible or 'normal,' then you're going to get a reaction and it ain't gonna be pretty.

Failure sucks (or does it?)

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Listen to the person giving you the negatives. What's their story? Have they failed at what you are trying to do? Have they experienced a disappointment so devastating that it colours how they view anyone with ambition?

For example, if you're enthusing about your idea of setting up your own business and the person you're talking to had their business fail and they lost everything, don't be surprised when their response is not all sunshine and rainbows. Instead, would they be open to you asking about what they learned from the experience? What would they do differently next time? This way, the conversation becomes a learning experience for both parties.

Stop playing small

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To close, I'll leave you with this quote from Marianne Williamson, who also said "Playing small doesn't serve the world." Deep, right? And true.

So next time your ambitions are met with questions of "Who are you to chase your dreams / set up your own business / travel the world?" ask yourself, "Actually, who am I not to?

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