Let’s imagine you’ve just decided to take make a big, exciting change in your life. 

Perhaps you’re leaving your job to pursue your dreams. Or you’re taking on a great big new responsibility at work. Or you’re taking a couple months off to bike across the country.

And let’s say you want to share your adventure with a friend or family member. But you anticipate that they’re not going to support you. Rather than being excited, you imagine them saying things like— 

“You’re crazy to want to do that!” 

“What if you can no longer pay the bills?” 

“Mom is going to be really pissed at you.”

Anytime you take on a big change in your life, someone in your life may push back against you.

In most great stories, the hero is confronted with family who fear the unexplored lands and dangerous creatures that live outside the village walls. 

The bigger the change and the stronger your commitment, the greater the chances that you’ll meet with pushback from what I call Outer Voices of Doubt— people you care about who are committed to doing everything they can to keep you safe at home. Who beg you to remain within the bounds of the known world. 

Your partner, parents, or best friend have a lot invested in their relationships with you, and they can be your biggest supporters or your most ardent challengers. 

When people push back against you, it’s natural that you’d want to turn away and disengage from the relationship. 

But if you can take time to hear their concerns, acknowledge how difficult this is for them, and share how important they are to you, you may gain their support or, at the very least, maintain your relationship while pursuing your dream. 

I invite you to think about a loved one whose support you want but who you expect will push back against your plans. If you have an Outer Voice of Doubt in your life like this, I invite you to prepare to have a conversation with them now. 

I learned this practice from Pam England during my training as a Birthing From Within mentor, and I call it a Dialogue with the Outer Voice of Doubt.

As I share how to have the conversation, imagine that you’re having the conversation and write down your answer to the question at the end of each step. 

First, get centered.

Take some time to get centered. Feel your breath and your feet. Set an intention to listen with your heart and to take a moment to pause, breathe, and come back to center if you start to feel triggered at any point. 

Share about your calling. 

If it feels helpful, you can begin the conversation by letting your loved one know how important your relationship with them is and how scary this conversation is for you. Then, share about the change in your life and why it’s so important to you. Discuss the potential impacts of this shift on your relationship and request their support for your life’s new direction.  

When you have the courage to be vulnerable and share what matters, you might be surprised at the outcome. Simply hearing why this change is so important to you may inspire someone who’s initially a voice of doubt to become one of your strongest allies. 

Write Your Response: 

  • Which change in your life do you want to tell your loved one about?
  • What is your hope for this conversation?

Acknowledge their positive intention. 

If the other person pushes back or argues that you shouldn’t move in this direction, know that they probably fear that your needs or their needs won’t be met. No matter how critical they are, most times people express doubt, they have a positive intention. Do your best acknowledge their positive intention.

This can be as simple as thanking them for caring about you and for sharing their concern.People are usually more open to changing their minds when they feel appreciated. 

Your new calling may also signify an ending for them, and that can be really hard for them. With this in mind, I encourage you to acknowledge the other person’s loss and be clear about what, in your perspective, is ending and what isn’t. 

And, if you really don’t understand where they’re coming from, ask.

Write Your Response:

  • What might be their positive intention?
  • What are they afraid of?

Ask questions. 

When you don’t understand the person’s point of view (or you assume you do, but they say you don’t), if you can stay curious and really listen, you can avoid making assumptions, gain useful perspective, and strengthen your connection. 

I encourage you to let go of trying to be right or needing to agree with the other person. Instead, get genuinely curious about where they are coming from and where you might have common ground.

Write Your Response:

  • Do I have any (genuinely curious) questions that I want to ask them?

Reflect with empathy. 

When the other person finishes sharing, do your best to reflect back what they said and check for understanding. Rather than just repeating their words, listen for and reflect back the underlying feelings, needs, and requests you hear. 

Then ask— Did I get that right? 

You will know that you truly heard the other person when they say— “Yes, that’s it! That’s exactly what I’m trying to say.” 

If you try to fix the situation before the other person feels heard, the conversation might snowball in a difficult direction, so do your best to keep asking if there’s anything else they want to say and reflecting back what you hear until they say they feel complete. 

Remember, your job is to do your best to understand the other person’s point of view, not to make them feel better or to agree with them. The more you can hear them, the more they’ll be able to hear you. 

Write Your Response:

  • How might I express gratitude toward them?
  • How might I stay grounded and centered enough to listen well?

Finally, share what’s important to you. 

After listening to the other person’s concerns, let them know how you’re feeling, what you’re needing, and any new requests you have. 

You may have learned something important from them that you want to incorporate into your plans. You may also let them know that you still need to say yes to your calling, even though they don’t understand it or see eye to eye. And, you may want to ask them to support you in a certain way that might help assuage their concerns.  

Write Your Response:

  • Is there anything else you want to make sure to say, from your heart?

Now, it’s time to have the conversation.

Sometimes, we need to let go of aspects of a relationship in order to follow a calling. Other times, your loved one might be so grateful that you had the courage to be vulnerable and to listen to where they’re coming from that you strengthen our bond, regardless of whether they become an ally or you agree to disagree.  

And remember, you cannot control how this conversation will go, but you can do your best. Practice as much as you need, and then, go do it. Onward!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and I will be sure to respond.

With much gratitude,

Katherine

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