Well-Intentioned Messages: It’s For Your Own Good!
(c) Sylvia Henderson, Springboard Training. All rights reserved. First published: HR.com
“You ride a motorcycle? Oh that´s so dangerous!”
“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.”
Any of this sound familiar?
As the [December] holiday season approaches, so begins a five-to-seven-week time period associated with emotional and physical challenges. Holidays typically involve our being with people 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”.
Is it really? For our own good? Moreover, how do we handle such advice? In this article, I will:
- Identify who typically sends these messages to us,
- Examine how these messages affect us, and
- 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.
From whom do you 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.
With their words of caution, they are well meaning in that they say these things to us to protect us; to warn us. They do not want us to be hurt.
Family members frequently 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, but 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 beneficial.
Yet, how do 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.
On page 18 of my book (1), I write:
“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.
To overcome or balance-out these messages, we must pause and look beyond the words we hear when our loved ones issue their entreaties. Acknowledge that we hear what they tell us. Then consider the messages they are really trying to convey to us. 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 do” during the coming weeks and get out among positive people. We need to surround ourselves with each other.
- Read positive books and biographies of those whom you admire.
- Listen to audio programs that teach and encourage.
- Watch uplifting video programs.
- Attend a motivational seminar or a light-spirited movie at a theatre.
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 we renew ourselves with positive messages, we can return to our loved ones. We can return to our friends, with the best of intentions, and appreciate the time we spend with the people who seem to make us the most crazy in our lives.
(1) Book: “Why You Talk So White? Eliminate the Behaviors That Sabotage Your Success”. Author: Sylvia Henderson. Publisher: V-Twin Press. ISBN #1-932197-00-1 . Available here.