Posted by Bonnie
How to cope with unsupportive people. This is a bit of a deep topic, that hits very close to home for me because it’s not just any people, either. I am talking close friends. Maybe, close family. A grandparent. A brother, even. You decide. I think we all have someone like this – If you don’t, count yourself lucky.
I don’t consider myself a people pleaser. For many years I worked a management job outside the home and I wasn’t popular – I was in the position of holding unaccountable people accountable, so naturally I wasn’t loved. But I was able to do my job effectively because I wasn’t there to make friends, I was there to preform specific duties, and I did them very well.
The difference between a job and your home life is obviously that when you’re finished work for the day you can leave. The people you work with come and go, and in my field anyway, lasting relationships didn’t really matter. Home is a different story. To be clear, I am not a people pleaser but I love to be loved by my family – To feel reciprocity to how I feel about them. I love my family and I show them support in every way I can. I expect the same in return.
This may come as a shock: I consider myself a homesteader. My definition may be different than yours, for example on my current property I can’t have livestock (beyond chickens) but despite that challenge, Yes, I am a homesteader. It was a surprise to literally everyone we know when we came out and branded ourselves with that title. Probably because people don’t know what it means, and when we try to explain it they can’t understand why this lifestyle is important to us.
But shocking my family is nothing new. It was a shock too, I’m sure, when we bought two rental properties. It was so different from what they knew, having never been landlords. And because, it was different than what they expected of us: A young couple, newly married, in their first home, working entry level ‘retail’ jobs. It wasn’t a safe choice. Starting a business is not the safe choice. Starting a blog and exposing your life to utter strangers is not the safe choice. Entrepreneurship is dangerous and risky… which is what makes it such a valuable learning experience and potentially very rewarding.
Coming from a family of white and blue collar workers (with only one or two entrepreneurs in the bunch – who by the way, are extremely supportive of our ventures) a few people had trouble understanding the value we saw in homesteading and entrepreneurship. This came across (and continues to come across) as a lack of support. Some people have chosen to ignore what we are doing completely – Literally make no comment on any aspect of it whatsoever. And I am talking about people very close to us. No comment. Am I misreading them? Are they silently supportive?
One person in particular has decided to consciously object to our lifestyle, our blog, and our business ventures. Here is where loving my family and wanting them to love me comes back. I say to anyone who doesn’t encourage family or friends to walk their own path:
- You’re making a mistake
- You might see imminent failure. And if that is the reason you can’t lift someone up, tell them that. Express yourself. Communicate your legitimate concerns – This could even help them avoid making mistakes. But also know that failure is a part of life and that the risk of, or even real failure, doesn’t make something unworthwhile.
- If you don’t have a legitimate concern about your loved ones success, or risk, you have nothing to lose by supporting them… But everything to lose if you don’t. Is damaging that relationship worth your objections? Is the person you are putting down not worth your support?
- You may not understand what someone is doing, or why.
- Why would I want to grow my own food when I can buy it at the store?
- Why would I want to ‘waste’ countless hours of time starting a business when I could work for someone who offers me a steady paycheque and benefits? Well…
- You may not understand what someone is doing, or why.
2. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you ‘get it’. And why should it? Using myself as an example, I know that everything I am doing:
- Is something Kyle and I have decided to do as a family
- Encourages growth and free thinking from our children
- Teaches lifelong skills to our kids that can be applied in many ways
- Sets a strong example of self reliance and hustle for our kids
- Gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment and fulfillment beyond what I ever had in the traditional work force – Even on the bad days
- Gives our family more time together
- Is safe and healthy and doesn’t put our family in any danger
Ok, so this is awkward. I think the person / people this is directed at will know right away… But I guess I don’t have to worry about that, because I know they will never read this. Also, this isn’t some passive aggressive way of expressing my feelings to them either: That’s not the secret in dealing with unsupportive people! I have vocalized everything above on a few different occasions to no effect.
So what now?
Here is how I cope with unsupportive people. The best advice I can pass along:
Accept that the only person you can change is yourself.
People in your life may never be who you want or need them to be. And, depending on the circumstances, you may have to decide to back away from your relationship with them to preserve what relationship you still have, and to succeed on your own path.
I refuse to change the path that Kyle and I have set for our family because of someone else’s negativity and pessimism. I feel sorry for people with such poor attitudes who can’t recognize that success comes in many packages – Not always with a dollar sign attached. Backing away from someone is extremely difficult for me because like I said, I love my family hard. It is the most hurtful thing when my friends or family members that I otherwise hold in high regard can’t get past themselves to cheer me on. By backing away from this relationship, I am probably punishing myself more than anyone because I clearly value this relationship. But again… The only person I can change is myself. And I don’t plan on minimizing or changing my life to make someone else more comfortable. I also don’t plan on allowing my children to be impacted by someone else’s unjust negativity.
The advice that the only person you can change is yourself has been very freeing to me. I hope you find it valuable too.