They are going to sling it in your direction. They are going to spit it in your face. They may even pour it in a glass and serve it to you, hoping you will chase it down with a smile and devour it with enthusiasm and grace. Whether or not you swallow that poison, though, is your decision. No one can force you to drink it. No one can force you to subscribe to the limitations of their beliefs.
It doesn’t matter if you attended an Ivy League school, were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, if you were blessed with the personality of God, the quick-wittedness of Jim Carey, the most enviable eyebrows within a 100-mile radius, or a face and body more flawless than Leonardo Da Vinci was ever capable of painting, someone somewhere is going to serve you up a poisonous concoction. Worst of all, they are going to expect you to swallow it with a grateful heart because, the majority of the time, it may be presented on a platter of good intentions. In fact, it may even come wrapped in an appealing package.
You are going to be subjected to comparison. You are going to be “sized up.” You are going to be criticized, scrutinized, discounted and dissected. So what. You are going to be slapped in the face with humble pie, surrounded by passersby who will expect you to devour every unfortunate crumb. Someone, somewhere at some point in time may even be lurking quietly, hose in hand, planning to saturate you with projections of their own insecurities and negativity, dousing you from head to toe.
You are going to be force-fed unpleasant statistics. You are going to be reminded of your competitors and those before you who attempted to achieve a similar goal, yet failed miserably. You are going to be painted nightmarish hypothetical scenarios so terrifying, you may be tempted to give up before ever finding yourself puking in a toilet mere moments before stepping foot into the arena. This is why some become so crippled by the venom, their feet never dare to enter the race.
People are quick to warn others of prior failures more often than reminding them of all of the champions who triumphed despite the most back-breaking obstacles. The truth is, it is not your stuff. It often has nothing to do with you. I beg of you; do not drink the poison.
Another Person’s Projected Junk Is Not Your Junk!
Upon returning from my honeymoon three years ago, I met a recently-divorced lady at a department store. She inquired about my ring, which then spawned a trail of questions about my newly-married life. I immediately detected skepticism, cynicism – even pity! – from her. As I answered her questions from my state of euphoria, she abruptly interrupted me, lowered her eyes and said with a condescending whisper, “Oh honey, I can tell you’re a smart girl. You do realize it’s not always going to be that way, don’t you?”
I found myself silenced by the sound of her vomiting every bitter feeling she had been hoarding in regards to her ex-husband and, truly, the male species in general.
For a moment, I feared she was one thought away from casting spells or something. Her countenance seemed to darken with every utterance and scowl. I had only met this lady ten minutes prior, yet she seized an opportunity to spew venom in the direction of an unsuspecting stranger. After a few minutes of torture, I politely thanked her for her input, expressed condolences about her situation, and told her I was uninterested in hearing more. I had sympathy for her situation, but was unwilling to ingest her poison.
Do Not Heed Every Warning You Receive
The problem with being served a “reality check” is that the contributor often lacks pertinent pieces of information about the listener’s situation. They seldom have enough information to offer advice which is remotely relevant. Oftentimes, the advice isn’t even warranted! The newly-divorced lady had a treasure chest of deadly rocks she was eager to hurl in my direction, yet she knew nothing about my life. Therefore, her experiences may very well have had no remote similarity to mine. The truth is, she likely had no conscious intention of being poisonous and may have believed she was being helpful.
You are going to be advised to “manage your expectations” and to “not get your hopes up.” You are going to be told to “hope for the best” as though everyone is either a victim or victor of random circumstance. How does achieving success have anything to do with hope?
Jim Carrey once said, “Hope is a beggar.” And he’s right.
Think about it: I hope the sun shines tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t rain during my beach vacation. I hope there are no major wrecks in my city today. I hope my dog lives to be 20 years old. However, in regards to my ability to live a fulfilling and successful life? It has nothing to do with hope. Hope isn’t even a factor.
I believe the notion of success versus failure has nothing to do with wishing for life to be kind to me. Life may not always be kind to me, however whether it is or not is irrelevant. My success has nothing to do with anyone else’s poisonous limitations or pessimistic expectations. It has nothing to do with the generations before me who failed, or how many times I’ve been told “no.” It has nothing to do with the legion of individuals who are more talented, more clever or more skilled than I will ever be. It has nothing to do with keeping one eye on “the other guy.” Whether or not I achieve success in my life depends solely upon my belief in my ability to do so. Your goals are either unattainable or “in progress,” depending upon the beliefs they are rooted in.
Backup Plans Are Created When Poison Is Ingested
Even your wildest, weirdest dreams can come true if your mindset is properly aligned with your desired destination. You can either be overwhelmed by the mountain or engaged in the climb. If you concoct a “plan b,” you are removing energy and belief from your original goal. People with backup plans achieve the goals of their backup plans; never their original plan. I’ve never seen it play out any other way.
It’s not about the venom hitting you in the face. It’s not about the poisonous, shade-throwing words that others hope will contaminate your brain. You’re going to achieve it, whatever it is. Period. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be next week, but you’re going to do it. You’re going to know that you’re going to do it every hour of every day until the day comes when you realize you goal has been achieved.
Write it on a post-it or declare it from the rooftops. Just make up your mind that you will not drink the poison. Don’t even sip on it. Do not allow its overflowing cup to even entertain the surface of your lips. Politely decline, thank the messenger for their time and remain rooted in the determination which resides in your brilliant, creative, life-shaping mind.
The original version of this article was published on The Huffington Post.