I was chatting with a friend who was feeling a bit hurt. She had spoken to someone close to her recently and as he tended to do when they were together, told her why she should stop following the career path she chose and should get a more stable job. She felt shutdown, sad and unsupported.

It is difficult when those around us don’t provide us the words or actions that make us feel supported. When we have our own doubts and are looking for reassurance, it can be extremely tough to hear others doubt us as well.

When someone questions or puts down what we choose to do or the decisions we make, it often isn’t as much about us, as it is about the person themselves.

Here are a few reasons others may say what they do:

Protect From Fear or Failure

Often the person wants to protect us. By taking what they consider a risk versus doing something they believe is “safe” they feel there is less opportunity to protect us from disappointment or failure.

They don’t understand that we are driven to reach for something and that failure is just one step closer to success. They also may not have the knowledge of the role or the market like we do to be able to identify that there is a need or purpose.

Risk Averted Themselves

Whether or not we see what we are doing as taking a risk, they may see it that way. They themselves wouldn’t have the courage to take the risk. Often people telling us why we shouldn’t do something are really explaining why they wouldn’t do something, or what their fears would be.


When someone sees you moving forward in a way they can’t see themselves taking action but they wish they could they may be envious. It is difficult to choose to embrace taking chances and many people may not feel comfortable doing it themselves. When they observe you doing what they wish they themselves could do, feelings of regret or jealousy may surface.

Guarding Yourself

No matter where the message comes from it can feel hurtful because it questions our decisions and doesn’t feel supportive. There are a few ways you can guard yourself from feeling deflated by what others have to say:

Share how it Makes You Feel

In some cases you may feel comfortable in sharing with the person how what they say makes you feel. They may be trying to help and may not realize how their words are impacting you. Letting them know either how you feel may shift what they say.

Appreciate Where it is Coming From

By stepping back and recognizing that what others are sharing is about where they are coming from, not you, it can easier to hear the message. Be grateful that they are willing to share their thoughts, but know you can stay strong in the path you are pursuing.

Eliminate the Topic from Conversation

Sometimes people will still want to offer their advice and it may be necessary to eliminate the topic from conversation. You may thank them for respecting your request that they not discuss the topic with you.

We may not always get the support that we wish we could from those closest to us. Understanding where the messages come from can help to see why people may say what they do and enable us to feel better about how we approach it.

Do you have someone close that sometimes doesn’t feel supportive in what you do? When you reflect on what they say to you, where do you think they are coming from? Share with me in the comments below.

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