Years ago, when I first started reading up on stuff related to sports, strength training and personal development, I remember coming across an article that mentioned how some people will only bring you down and that you have to cut these people out of your life. It made sense but seemed impossible. After all, you don’t want to break off contact with a friend or family member because they’re not very supportive of your career, sports endeavours or even your choice of partner. Still, I occasionally noticed how people would not take me seriously or even actively discourage me from doing the things I did. Sometimes they even did that with the best of intentions, regardless whether it was about learning to play guitar, picking up martial arts or getting into weightlifting competitions. I recall how I was mocked occasionally for my ‘weird eating habits’ during college, something I just shrugged off because I was really focused on what I wanted -or so I thought-. In hindsight, I do believe that by finding/creating a better environment to learn in, I could have been a better athlete.
My coach often reminds me of the importance of a good environment to train in, and I believe this extends to other areas in your life as well. I see it with myself and with other people over and over.
“I am ridiculed for my passion.”
“People discourage me from giving up excessive partying and drinking for my fitness goals.”
“My parents feel my biggest hobby is a waste of time.”
I’ve heard these things from people many times and I feel blessed to have parents and friends who have supported me even when they disagreed. Over time however, I have learned that sometimes you DO have to let people go and simply not waste your time on them. I see them as black holes. They suck out all your energy and give nothing back. Crabs, psychic vampires, toxic friends… Call them what you will, but these are the people who hold you back, who can destroy your self esteem without realizing it, who are in the way of your success, who waste your precious time, who drain your (emotional) energy, who mess with your motivation and who strangely enough rarely have any results and successes to speak of. Perhaps the feel-good adage “Great people pull others up, they don’t put other people down” (or whatever it was exactly) does have some merit in real life.
If these people are simply being dicks/bitches (let’s not discriminate), it’s pretty easy to tell them to fuck off, but what if they are simply worried or insecure and have the best intentions? What if they are your friends or family members, genuinely worried and trying to prevent you from doing something retarded? Sometimes you can just sit them down and talk it over and that’s enough… However, this is often not the case. Sometimes you have to prove yourself first and other times even that would just be a waste of time. I have found that there is a way to avoid the “cut people out” tough talk mentality.
Actively surround yourself with people who help you up. People who share your passion, are in the same line of work or have been where you are and achieved success. People who can teach you or perhaps your seniors who are just a little better than you. I’ve found that people who are still behind you and look up to you are great motivators too. You motivate them, it gives you a sense of fulfilment and everyone wins. Remember what I said about pulling others up instead of putting them down? This is the perfect example of putting that into practice. My coach always teaches me that you’re friends during training… Until you hit the platform in competition, where it turns into war. As long as you have enough self-restraint and enough of a moral compass not to fuck people over to get ahead, I believe that competition can turn people into better versions of themselves.
I have found that this principle of creating a supportive environment helps enormously with shrugging off whatever the naysayers say. It gives a lot more rest in your head because you don’t have to engage them in conversation because that would just give those black holes more energy to suck in. My old internship coach used to say that “you have two hands free if you just let go”, which always seemed so much harder than it sounded, but that supportive environment really, really helps you do just that.
Find people to pull you up and do the same for them. Invest your energy in success and let your actions prove the naysayers wrong.
“Picture a bucket of live crabs: whenever one crab attempts to escape the bucket by climbing out of it, the others reach up and pull it back down. The result, of course, is that no crab succeeds in escaping the bucket. Despite the fact that they could all easily climb out, they are more concerned with pulling each other down to remain at the same level.
What’s the difference between humans and crabs? Not much.” – Nate Green