Going after your big dream requires that you protect your self-esteem. Setbacks, rejection, criticism, and lack of support can tear apart your self-confidence and cause you to consider giving up your dream journey.
You have to become your self-esteem protector by respecting yourself enough to stand up for your dream. You cannot allow anyone to take this journey away from you–even if that person is you.
How often has someone you’ve respected been disrespectful to you about what you want to do with your life? Maybe they were so hurtful that you couldn’t think of a way to communicate to them how they made you feel until long after it ended.
How much of your self-esteem did you let go of during the encounter?
Toxic feedback is never easy to counterargue in the heat of the moment, but here are 3 steps you can take to help protect your self-esteem:
1. Become a toxic people-evading ninja.
You can’t even begin to find your footing while you’re under attack. If it’s in person, walk away. By phone, hang up. Text or email, don’t respond. It doesn’t feel like it in the heat of battle but this is the most powerful thing you can do. You can always gather your thoughts and thoughtfully respond later when you’re calm. If it doesn’t actually require a response, don’t.
Those who are jealous of your dream journey will attack you simply to get you to respond, they may even conjure up extreme types of failures just so you’ll stay engaged to defend your dream choice, “That’s not true!” Then they’ll say you’re misguided for trying to defend your dream.
Know this: you cannot win. If they don’t want to hear or believe you, you won’t be able to convince them otherwise.
They can’t visualize what you see. They feel empty inside and want you to stay the same. Like a child, even negative attention is still attention that they crave. If you can walk away from their negative input, you can take control of your self-esteem. Not responding takes far more strength than whipping back a defense. Trust me. I’ve both remained calm and lost my temper when responding to toxic people who think my dream is silly and I’m much prouder of myself when I’ve remained calm.
Take the energy from a negative attack and translate it into the momentum to push you forward on your dream.
2. Don’t be afraid to let go of the relationship.
Boundaries are hard to set but often necessary. A simple “Stop it or I won’t interact with you in any way while I’m working on this project!” can often be enough to stop the negative feedback. We teach kids that it’s ok to say, “You’re being mean, I don’t have to play with you.” It’s perfectly acceptable to protect your self-esteem and your big dream. Your dream belongs to you.
As adults, we often forget that we don’t have to play with the people who hurt us. And that its ok to call them on their behavior. It doesn’t have to be nasty. It can be a simple “stop” followed by walking away.
3. Team up with fellow esteem self-defense dreaming ninjas.
Go to your tribe; your spouse; your best friends. The people like you who have big dreams or who believe in you. If the toxic person’s words get under your skin and make you question yourself, go to your tribe.
Believe in who you are and the blessings only you have to offer the world. Repeat to yourself:
“This is my dream. This dream belongs to me. The antidote to negativity is to take action on my dream!”
Above all, choose not to let toxic people define you or your dream journey. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it to protect your self-esteem and live the life you dream.
Iman Woods is an American artist who specializes in pin-up photography. Through a unique and therapeutic process, she’s spent over a decade in perfecting, Iman helps women undo the damage from a negative self-image and unrealistic beauty industry expectations. She helps women embrace their own style of beauty and see themselves in a new light. You can find her on her website, ImanWoods[dot]com.
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