Recognizing Your Supporters

Last week, I spoke about how important it is to share your dreams with the right people in Voicing your Vision. Visions lead us to major life changes, such as starting a new school program, changing jobs, initiating a new project, relocating, or leaving a relationship that no longer feels right. Sharing your vision with your most trusted supporters in the early stages protects the dream as it begins to manifest. But how do we recognize those reliable supporters?

 A newly formed vision can be verbally attacked before it has a chance to fully form, like a baby deer that hasn’t the legs yet to escape its predators. Spotting the people who are overly critical or brutal in their feedback is essential to protecting the vision. These can be people who “should” support you because they are related to you, because they are in the same field as you, or because they are working on a similar project. But feelings of envy and competitiveness can arise once they learn about what you plan to do. Family members can react with fear if they think your vision will take you away from them. These feelings can lead them to attack your new vision before you have the confidence to implement it.

Before confiding in potential supporters, try a Gut Check.  Slow down and ask yourself, “Will (say their name) support me in my vision?”. Then feel your gut for a reaction. If your gut feels tight, dull, closed, or if you internally hear the word “No”, then choose another person to be a supporter of your vision.

While toxic people and overly critical friends can be more easily recognized, it’s the subtle withdrawal of friends and family members that is more difficult to identify. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” MLK

When people emotionally pull away or don’t get back to us, it creates a void that leaves an emotional impact. The silence of our supporters can make us feel like we are all alone. A lack of encouragement and validation can lead us to doubt the new direction of our life. In this void, we lose trust in the vision that initially felt empowering and invigorating.

Sharing a new dream about how you want to change your life is a very intimate act. It feels like a risk to open up and share so deeply with another person. Receiving a response in a timely manner and in a supportive way is crucial to maintaining the momentum it takes to implement a life change. If we don’t get any response, or we hear lukewarm feedback, our enthusiasm can dip and we may lose determination to make the change.

More important than determining which people in our lives may be critical of our new dreams is realizing when a true supporter is showing up. Let go of the checklists and expectations in your head about what a supporter should do and be. Feel your body when you think about the potential supporter. Does your body tingle? Can you breathe more easily when you say their name aloud? Does your gut feel open and relaxed? A true supporter will energize you, not deplete you. It’s that simple!

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