“People will kill you over time, and how they kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases like be realistic.” Dylan Moran
I cannot begin to tell you how much I hate it when people give backhanded, up front or behind the back slights to one’s life dreams, hopes and ambitions. And, yes, I used the word hate because, like you, I heard these phrases from others as I wandered through my early work years. And, because it frustrated me so much, I made mental notes to stay away from those who would be so bold to say something so ridiculous to me or behind my back. Just the fact that they would say such unkind and, frankly, silly words just to “put me in my place” or to make sure I didn’t get the credit for the amazing job that I had done or (and I really dislike this phrase) “just to keep me humble.” Oh, brother, what insecure, shallow, narcissistic person would be so small-minded, self important and detestable to speak their timid mind? Ah, well, they are among your friends, your co-workers and (most likely) your family…but you knew that already.
What makes this so damaging is that you hear these biting phrases more than you think, and it’s truly death by a 1000 little cuts. And the worst part is you’ve been cut so many times that you don’t think you feel the pain, but you do, and your mind knows that it endured another hit.
I’ll add that many times you don’t know how long you’ve been bleeding or how much blood you’ve lost until you’re under serious pressure, and, for some reason, you realize that you just don’t have the strength, energy or fortitude to go on, because you’ve been weakened emotionally, mentally and physically by the barrage of criticisms that you hold in the back of your mind. Unknowingly and consistently, you hear the harsh words of those who are afraid or jealous of your success as they are replayed over.
So let me get to the heart of the matter of those fearful and self defeated people who say such ridiculous things and it is this (and remember this please) our success magnifies their failure.
That’s it. And because of that spotlight that shows the world they did not, cannot, will not step up to the plate and swing, they lash out in the only way they can that outwardly doesn’t seem so spiteful (or pitiful or rude) to hide their lifetime of failure, broken promises and damaged dreams.
I think there is a lot of accuracy in the quote “There’s always a little truth behind every, ‘Just kidding,’ a little curiosity behind every, ‘Just wondering,’ a little knowledge behind every, ‘I don’t know’…and a little emotion behind every, ‘I don’t care.’”
I can only imagine that you would agree it would be better for all involved if others would keep quiet, let their silence speak or simply walk away and do not engage. We don’t all have to get along, hold hands and sing Kumbaya, but we should able to adhere to the old adage that if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything.
Let me give you a few reasons on why I believe it is important for us to keep our mental shield up when others feel the need to tear us down.
The most important reason I can think of is that life is short. Come on, you know this to be true, so why are you filling your days with the empty words of those who are not building you up to be your best but are tearing you down to be like them? According to Wikipedia, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy) you are looking at a lifespan of about 70 years for women and 69 for men, so most of us are within 20-30 years left in our life. For many, over half of their lives have passed. Friend, don’t let the next decade of your life go unnoticed, or, better said, unlived. If there is ever a time to shine–to do what you want to do, to be who you want to be–today is the day and, truth be told, you’re not getting any younger.
I know this is supposed to be a hopeful message, and it is, if you’ll take my advice and live the life in your days, instead the days of your life (and that is a phrase made popular by those who work in Hospice care). If there are still things left undone in your life or words left unsaid, or if you’ve made the decision to coast until the end, let me encourage you to change your mind and do the necessary work to leave a legacy that you will be proud of. In the end we’ll only have the memories of who you were, so, today, figure out who you are, and then finish your race with compassion, grace and love.
I found a quote that sums up what I want to say and it is this,
“When writing the story of your life – don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”
I have to come to believe that another reason others struggle with your success is because it is not their journey–it is yours–so you must stop allowing others to speak into your life if it is not for your best.
If you’re that person who’s worked at it and achieved success, you know that all your life there have been some people who have wanted to be you. They’ve seen who you are and what you have (never acknowledging that you worked for it) and they want it all. And they want it all without the work, because you make it look so easy. But what they don’t know and will never acknowledge is the hours, the sweat and the denial of self you’ve made to make your life happen. Their jealousy rages because they will never be as good as you are no matter what fabrications they post on their website or on social media. Your success magnifies their failure.
I know. Tough words for a Tuesday, but you know it is true, and as sad as it is to see friends and colleagues leave because of their insecurities, it is better for you to have them gone than having them stay close by to tear you down, word by back stabbing word. You can’t fix their journey if they haven’t done the work to produce a map for success.
And my last point is this (and you know it is true): you probably don’t need them for your success. Think about it. They haven’t been there for you in years, so why do you think you need them now? What you need are friends and family who see the best in you, even if it is only one person. I’ve always liked the phrase, I’d rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies. You deserve friends who wish you well and who will help you along your path. Why, you may ask. Because friends let friends dream big dreams. They don’t tear them down to bring them to their low level with offhanded comments like, be realistic. No, they dream along with you to see a shining city on a hill for the good of all, especially you. Remember, jealousy is the underlying fear they have of your success, so if they don’t have a personal plan for success, I’m guessing you don’t really need them; the trouble they will ultimately cause is not worth the effort to help them find their place.
Let me add one more note about the truth of your success. It will be lonely at times. If you spend time with any successful person, and if they are truthful, they will admit that success is a bit lonely, because if you travel, you’re sitting in airports more than you are working, or you’re in hotels that make you weep for home or you just hope and dream for a decent cup of coffee. It’s okay–it is the path of your success that will be the memories you share and carry with you all your days (in your life).
Let me close with a quote by Yvonne Kariba.
People will try to project their fears, insecurities and limiting beliefs on you if you aren’t careful or allow them to. Most people are afraid to follow their dreams, resist change with everything they’ve got and prefer to keep things as they are because they don’t like leaving their comfort zones or are afraid to fail or make mistakes.
People will often try to discourage you from attempting to do the very things they have failed at or didn’t have the courage to pursue because they are afraid that it will reflect negatively on them if you succeed. Or it will force them to give up their excuses, finally face their own fears and accept responsibility for the reason why things didn’t work out for them.
When people tell you you can’t do something, it’s usually because your goal or dream stirs up an insecurity within them that makes them question their own ability to get things done or makes them feel inadequate in one way or another.
I think she perfectly sums up my theme for today, illustrated in this quote by Dylan Moran, “People will kill you over time, and how they kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases like be realistic.”
Ah, friend, find your path, find your true friends, find your light and stand in it–let it shine on your success and be a lamp for others to follow to greatness.
I’ll see you at the top, and I’ll leave the light on.