Making Believers Out of Skeptics

Sad pupil being bullied by classmates at corridor in school

Everyone isn’t going to support your dream. The good news is that it doesn’t matter.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone supported and encouraged our hopes and dreams?

Can you imagine the amount of additional energy, strength, and drive you would have if you knew that everyone who you encountered at home and at work rooted you on and believed in you?

Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?

Actually, it is crazy.

Expecting to go through life receiving unconditional support and unwavering belief in our dreams would be like expecting to go through life without experiencing another rainy day.

Just like the inevitable rainy day that’s coming, there will always be people out there who don’t believe in us.

Why, you may ask?

Because being a skeptic is easy.

Do you know what’s hard?

Believing in something that hasn’t happened yet.

That’s infinitely harder, and that’s why most people can’t/won’t do it.

If a person is currently out of shape and she declares that she’s going to train to run a half marathon before the end of the year, it’s much easier for someone to look at her current physical condition and snidely say, “yeah right,” than it is to picture her future self and say to her, “I believe you can do it.”

Last week, I shared that I am a few months away from reaching one of my lifelong dreams of being a published author. Sure it might be all skittles and rainbows now, but when I shared my dream with people initially, I was told by countless skeptics that my dream would fail.

That’s what skeptics do. They love to throw a cold wet blanket on our dreams before we even get started, and they can be wildly effective if we choose to believe them.

Good thing for us that’s a choice that we don’t have to make.

Infinite Fuel

Skeptics have followed me all throughout my life. I know this might sound strange to some people reading this, but I can honestly still hear their voices in my mind as I type their words below:

“You’ll never get accepted into college.”

“You’ll never graduate from college.”

“You’ll never make the basketball team.”

“You’ll never get that job.”

“You’ll never get promoted into a leadership position.”

“You’ll never make it as a public speaker.”

“You’ll never make it as a blogger.”

“You’ll never become an author.”

Do you know what all of the above statements have in common?

They were all dead wrong.

I had the extremely satisfying pleasure of disproving each of the above statements as I did the exact opposite of what they believed I was capable of doing.

Am I sharing this with you just to show you how awesome I am?

Well yeah, actually I am.

And believe me, you’ll need to believe in your awesomeness too if you plan on dealing with the skeptics out there who don’t believe in your intelligence, your skills, your inner strength, and your ability to achieve your dreams.

Even though dealing with the skeptics in our lives may sound like a scary process, the good news is that the skeptics in our lives don’t need to be feared or avoided.

In fact, if anything, we need to view the skeptics in our lives as a gift.

Their lack of faith in us might be the greatest dream-achieving fuel that this world has to offer.

As soon as someone tells you that you’re too out of shape to run a half marathon, too pathetic to ever leave your toxic relationship, too lazy to graduate college, too weak to quit smoking, too unqualified to get that job, too much of a nobody to ever get a book deal, too much of a coward to stand up to your bully boss, too untalented to achieve your dream, or too old to live your best life, you could choose to believe that they’re right.

Or you could do something else.

You could choose to feel the sting of what it’s like to have someone not believe in you, and truthfully you should marinate in that pain for a minute.

But once you’re done feeling that pain, it’s time to use that pain as your fuel by refusing to allow anyone (this includes your boss, your parents, your significant other, your physician, anyone) to place limits on what you’re capable of doing, or not doing.

Then it is up to you to sincerely and defiantly say the following four life-changing words either out loud or silently to yourself:

“You’re wrong. Watch me.”

You or Them

The Positivity Solution at its core is really about one thing:

Living our best lives.

In order to do that, we must be willing to fight for our dreams with an intense ferocity and tenacity.

Ferocity and tenacity are the perfect words too, because if you think that you can achieve your best life by “kinda wanting” your best life, you’re kidding yourself.

If so, the skeptics will eat you alive.

Trust me, I know. They chewed me up and spat me out for years until I finally learned to do something that I wish learned earlier on in my life.

I learned to believe in myself.

This is critical if you have a serious interest in achieving your dreams.

Speaking of dreams, there is no doubt that if you’ve read this far that you have a dream that you want to make real in your life, right?

Just as certain as it is that you have that dream, it’s equally as certain that there is someone out there who doesn’t believe that you can do it, be it, or have it.

It’s at that moment that you’ll have to make this extremely important choice:

You can either believe in your ability to live your dream, or you can believe in the skeptics who will happily tell you why you’ll never have it.

Obviously, you can’t do both.

Just know this–whether you believe in yourself, or if you believe in the skeptics, one thing is for certain:

You’ll be right either way.

The Worst Skeptic of All

You probably already figured this out, but this post really isn’t about making believers out of skeptics–it’s about digging much deeper than simply “earning their belief.”

Truthfully, I couldn’t give a damn if the skeptics believe in me or not. You shouldn’t either.

The goal of this post is not to allow the skeptics to stop us.

Like I said earlier, skeptics will always be a part of our lives.

But what if your biggest skeptic is the person staring back at you in the mirror everyday?

If so, I’ve been there.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this, so I’m going to just come out and say it. It was a lesson that I had to learn the hard way:

You will never live the life that you’re meant to live until you believe in yourself.

This shouldn’t be too surprising. Every step of progress starts with a belief in ourselves. Without that all-important step, the possible becomes impossible in a hurry.

So, really the question isn’t if the skeptics believe in you. The real question is do you believe in you?

If not, here’s what you need to do.

Keep showing up to do the work. 

Some people call it “fake it until you make it,” and the process really is that simple.

Keep showing up when everyone thinks that you’re wasting your time by chasing your dream. Keep showing up when your insecurities and self-doubt are begging you to quit and go home. Keep showing up when the obstacles seem bigger, stronger and built to last longer than you are.

If you commit to just keep showing up, you’ll notice that your belief in yourself will develop with a speed and conviction that will shock you. Contrary to popular belief, there is no skeptic, insecurity or obstacle that can withstand the power of your persistence.

Fair warning, though–just because this “showing up” stuff sounds simple, don’t be fooled into thinking that doing it 100% of the time is easy.

It’s not.

Along the way, you may be tempted to believe the skeptics, or even worse, quit on your dreams altogether. If that temptation ever crosses your mind, indulge in this horrifying thought for a minute:

Think of all of the skeptics, naysayers, and haters who you’ll prove right if you do end up quitting.

Remember this: Your dream came to you for a reason.

It didn’t come to you so you could give up on it.

It didn’t come to you so that someone outside of yourself could convince you that you’re incapable of having it.

It came to you because you have everything necessary within you to make it real.

But only if you believe it.

Your Turn

When is the last time that you’ve proved a skeptic wrong? Are you currently dealing with skeptics who are telling you that you don’t have what it takes to live your dream? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola
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Comments

  1. Shola,

    Dang it, you’ve done it again! Another inspirational piece to provide the most functional perspective, ever.

    I suspect that often the root of dysfunctional thinking is fear, and this forms the basis of the skeptical viewpoint. Skeptics are simply too dang afraid to take the risk you’ve just embarked on, and to placate themselves, they transfer those fears onto you. Now, I’m no psychologist, but I really think something deep and insidious is happening here. It’s certainly not calculated, rational thinking.

    On the other hand, I think it’s dysfunctional to require a lot of (or maybe any) cheerleading from others. We need to develop our own sense of courage and comfort with risk, without putting too much credence in outside opinion (with the exception of experts and consultants with REAL insight). We need to own our ideas, believe in ourselves, and filter all the noise that comes from amateurs, blind optimists and scaredy cats.

    Yours in courage,
    Howie Milstein
    The Institute to Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously!

    • Thanks Howie! Even though you said that you’re not a psychologist, you certainly have the insight of one. I really like when you said that it’s dysfunctional to require a lot of cheerleading from others in order to take necessary risks. It took me YEARS of my life before I found the courage to step into my truth, regardless of whether anyone supported me or not in the beginning (this blog is a perfect example of that!)

      Thanks for the comment, and I love the name of your institute!

  2. Gabriela Thuemmler says:

    Shola,
    I just wanted to drop you a quick Thank You.
    I was blown away when I read last week that your dream will become true, congratulations and please do carry on lifting us up.
    The world needs more kindness and positivity
    Have a great week CU again here next week

    xxx Gabriela

    • Thank you Gabriela! The only reason that my dream came true is because of amazing people like you showing up here each and every week. Thanks again for the support!

  3. Margie Piscitelli says:

    Shola,

    I read about three paragraphs of this post while thinking the entire time that the biggest thing getting in the way of my goals is ME. Later in the post I saw how you have addressed the struggle of self-doubt. Or maybe it’s laziness. Or fear of success. It could be so many things.

    I wanted to be a nurse when I was very young. My mother said that in our family we don’t go to college – we go to work. I had excellent writing, typing, and shorthand skills, therefore she said that I will be a secretary. So I became a secretary. While I was a secretary for a law firm, one of the lawyers encouraged me to attend college. I said it’s too late, it will take too long, I’m twenty five. Imagine that.

    She said, “You’ll be thirty in five years with or without a college degree. Your choice.”

    I went to night school. For years and years – and years. I have an AA, BA, BSN, MSN…(yes, I’m an nurse, as of 2007 at the age of 49). But along the way I learned that I have a gift for teaching end-users how to use computer software. Many, many opportunities exist for me with my education in Nursing Informatics. So many opportuninites I can’t think straight or come up with a clear goal. Your blogs have given me so much food for thought that I have to thank you for at least getting me to pay attention.

    Your post reminds me of one of my favorite sayings over the years, “Persistence is worth more than talent or brains.” I don’t know who this quote belongs to, but it is the quote that has motivated me for a life time.

    Thank you for the reminder!

    Also, congratulations on having your dream come true. You are a gifted writer. That’s why I pay attention.

    • Nice work, Margie! So many people use the excuse of “it’s too late” to stop them from going after their dreams. The lawyer who gave you that life-changing piece of advice was very wise, and as a result of following it, you are literally making the world a more positive place through your work as a nurse and an educator. I work in the healthcare field and I know how incredibly powerful it is to have knowledgeable (and patient!) people in the Nursing Informatics field.

      Thank you for what you do, and thank you for your kind words! I really appreciate it 🙂

  4. Sharing one of my favorite quotes: ‘Massive success is the best revenge’. Wishing you massive success, Shola! Cheers!

  5. Hi Shola,
    Thank you for another amazing blog & congratulations on your book deal!

    I feel so lucky to have found your blog many months ago, words cannot really express how much you have helped me. Through your readings & blog posts, I was able to end a miserable, toxic relationship I was in. I am now in the process of working to remove myself from a miserable, toxic work situation.

    Some days, I would feel so down and think I didn’t deserve any better-those are the days I would come back & re read every blog post you have ever written. I am still a work in progress, but I am working hard to create a better life.

    Thank you & best of luck to you, can’t wait to read your book!

    • Wow, that is SO incredibly nice to hear–thank you so much for sharing that with me! I wholeheartedly believe that the key to a positive life is the removal of as many toxic influences as possible, and I’m thrilled that you took the huge step of removing a toxic relationship from your life. The next step is your job, and you have already proven that you have everything within you to remove that from your life too.

      Thanks again for your very sweet words, and it is my honor to serve you in any way that I can. Keep up the great work!

  6. Shola, Another on-the-money post! I made that foolish mistake, waiting to do anything that mattered to me, waiting for the world to applaud my intentions, shower me with support, and confirm that I DESERVED happiness. Are you sitting down? Guess what? The world never came through! Can you believe it???? Anyway, I was lucky enough to work with many successful people, and I noticed that they had “gone for it”, despite their imperfections, and even if everyone said they’d fail. It finally sunk in, that I did not need the world to tell me I was good enough or deserving enough. This has truly made the difference between my life having meaning or not. Now I feel I have a purpose, I make a contribution, and I’m totally engaged & focused. You write so many posts that make me wish you & your message had been out there 20-30 years ago! It makes me happy to think you are reaching an ever-widening audience, and literally changing lives. Thank you & Have a Great Week!

    • Ha! You are so spot-on, Donna! I remember those sad and pitiful days when I waited for the world to throw its support behind me, just because I declared that I was going for my dream. And yep, just like you said, the world didn’t come through! The key is to believe in ourselves enough to keep going whether or not that support is there in the beginning–and just like you, I wish that I knew this 20 years earlier too!

      Thanks as always for your support, my friend. It is deeply appreciated!

  7. Shola,

    This is such a powerful message. How many times have we given up on ourselves waiting for someone else to approve. My nieces are 13 and 15, just coming into their own. I want them to understand early who they are and what they strive for is important. The sooner they have the confidence to move for themselves, the less time they’ll spend listening to that voice of doubt. I only wish I had you when I was young, could have saved a lifetime of just accepting what came. This post is a must read, you’ve expressed it much more succinctly than I ever could.

    Thank you!
    Kat

    • Thank you, Kat! What you want for your nieces is exactly what I want for my daughters too. It is so important for young people to develop self-belief early on, so that they can have a fighting chance against the flurry of self-doubt that will be coming at them over the course of their lives. And just like I told Donna earlier, I wish that I had this knowledge when I was younger too–it would saved me from a lot of unnecessary drama and pain!

  8. You have me thinking, Shola. I read this post on Monday and had to think on it a while before I could respond. Now I’ve re-read it and am still thinking! 😛

    Being a skeptic and a nay-sayer is easy. There is no investment in someone when you are simply shooting down their dreams and ideas. When we invest in other people, however, we take the time to know them and care about them. I don’t think there would be as many skeptics if we all took time to make that investment.

    I am struggling with a relationship in my life right now because of this very reason. I have invested about 15 years of my life into this friendship (from my perspective) with someone who is very shallow. This person has invested very little into our relationship. Why do I continue to participate? I can’t help it. We have kids the same age, two of whom are very close friends. While I could probably back away, I have not.

    This person is not just a skeptic to me, but to themselves and all of those around them. It is hard to watch, but I find myself still loving them completely. In my heart, I love them.

    I have healthy boundaries, though. That is also part of how we can deal with the skeptics. We can allow them to tell us whatever message they choose without allowing that message to bring us down! My friend can spout out whatever message she wants. I just nod and smile and continue to love her.

    I think I’ve gotten off topic, so I’m sorry. But it is the idea that our skeptics are sometimes people we love and care for that has my brain working overtime. So, please forgive me for my ramblings.

    I was blessed with parents who always encouraged me and believed in me. I have fought my way through trials and tribulations and am who I am, a very positive person, because of the strength I have built. But I look at my friend and can’t help but wonder what happened to her to make her who she is.

    I can’t change or fix her, but I can continue to love her. So while it is important to keep skeptics from bringing us down, I think it’s okay to still want to lift up our skeptics.

    Thank you for your words, Shola. And thank you for giving us a place to think and grow and share (although I probably should keep these silly ramblings to myself! lol)

    Sending hugs,

    Kathy

    • Trust me Kathy, you’re definitely not rambling–I have been in exactly the same situation that you are currently in, so I can relate. In terms of your friendship, the question that I would ask you is a simple one “does the relationship leave you feeling filled up, or does it leave you feeling drained?” When I asked myself that question four years ago, it prompted me to leave a long-term friendship, because I consistently felt drained when I hung out with that person. As hard as it was at the time, I was one of the best decisions that I have ever made–I haven’t looked back since.

      Of course, I can’t speak for your situation, but in all things, make sure that you make the decision that honors yourself. Life is too short to do anything else! 🙂

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