How to Spot a Dream Killer

dream300By Latasha Ellis-Cobb —

Dream killers are people who through word or deed extinguish your hopes, dreams or wishes. I categorize them into two groups: intentional and unintentional.

Intentional dream killers are easy to spot. They are people that don’t want you to get ahead because of one of the following reasons:

 They are competitive and don’t want you to do anything more than they are doing.  They are using your stagnant state as a measuring stick for their own success. As long as you are still jobless and living in your parents’ basement, they can “remember when.”  They don’t have the guts to chase their own dreams.

When you share your ideas, they will usually offer phrases like: “What do you know about that?” or “I don’t think you can do it because… ” Some will dampen your enthusiasm by simply dismissing you or acting like your goals are unobtainable.

I can remember back to when I was just 19 years old. An older, female relative asked me, “What is it that you would like to do with your life?” I quickly replied that I wanted to be a writer to which she responded, “What will you write about? You don’t know anything?” Eighteen years later, I can still hear that sentiment in the back of my mind. Even as I wrote my first novel. Even as I contemplated starting my blog. Her comments made me doubt myself and my goals early on in my life. Intentional dream killers are the proverbial crabs in a barrel that don’t want you disturbing the status quo.

Unintentional dream killers are much harder to spot, primarily because these are people that genuinely care about you and have your best interest in mind. Their intentions are not to kill your dreams but to protect you. That makes their tactics more potent than those of an intentional dream killer.

Unintentional dream killers want you to take the safe route. They want you to fit into a neat, little, definable box so that they don’t have to worry about your well-being. They usually say things like: “It’s not safe to travel abroad right now.” or “If you start your own business, you won’t have any retirement or benefits.” They point out all of the logical scenarios that you have already played out in your head, and they dwell on them. When you finish talking to them, you feel drained and sometimes begin to question your plans.

I am a firm believer that if you present a problem, you should also provide a solution. So, how do you deter the dream killers in your life?

 When you are in the planning stages of a project, hold it close to your chest. Until you are prepared to discuss it intelligently – don’t.  Only share your dreams with people who will encourage you, and challenge your plans in ways that are beneficial to your growth.  Research, research, research. If you dot all your I’s and cross your t’s, it will be harder for people to discourage you because you have already invested yourself into the project. You will be knowledgeable about the subject matter, and able to provide insight about the details of your project.  Cut out or limit intentional dream killers in your life. Who wants friends that don’t believe in them?  Pull the unintentional dream killers in your life aside and let them know how their feedback affects you. I have had to do this on a couple of occasions, and the perpetrators didn’t even know that they were being discouraging!  Believe in yourself! Have the guts to shrug off all naysayers and go for the gusto! You have to know that you are the only person who can make things happen in your life.

And, how do you stop being a dream killer?

 Before you make a comment about someone else’s dream ask yourself: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it useful?  Ask yourself what makes you an expert on someone else’s skillset or capabilities.  Are you projecting your own fears onto someone else’s dreams? ? Most importantly, what is your true intention?

How do you handle the dream killers in your life?

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