If you’re sensitive to others’ emotions like me; if you’re a people-pleaser, chances are you feel extremely uncomfortable when you face even the mildest form of pushback from someone.
But if you want to live an intentional life that is authentic and aligned, you are going to encounter pushback. There is no avoiding it. So what better time than now to take a closer look at pushback and learn to deal with it.
Why do people push back?
It could be that they are really great at protecting their boundaries and you have overstepped them. Ouch! Take the feedback and respond appropriately — with an apology if necessary and a modification. Learn from the experience: did you make an assumption? Were your intentions ingenuine and you got called on it? Did you ignore a “no” and try to push through your agenda anyway?
But then again, it could be that whatever it is you’re doing to cause pushback has threatened them in some way and is a reflection of where they are at, not you. If this is the case, don’t spend too long empathising with them; this isn’t your baggage. Do take a moment to acknowledge that something is going on with them, and send some loving compassion their way. Maybe they wish they had the courage to do what you are doing; maybe your actions remind them that they are not taking steps they need to in order to improve their own lives.
Either way, avoiding pushback is an impossible task. You could protect yourself and live secretly; but then you’d be inauthentic. You could play small, hold yourself back, in an effort to not upset anyone … But that would only lead to you being miserable.
Every time I’ve made a major shift in my life I’ve encountered some pushback, although thankfully well-intentioned. Perhaps it was my mother when I announced I was moving to Turkey to be with a man. Or my colleagues when I resigned from my “dream job” to take a gap year. Or my neighbour when I told her we had decided against sending our kids to the “best” school in town, and had instead chosen the closest school.
People often say that if you are scared, you’re on the right track; follow your fear, they say. I’d like to suggest that going where you’re likely to experience some pushback is not so different. In other words, don’t not do something just because you are anticipating pushback. Know that you can handle it; that it is a reflection of others’ situations. And even if you are totally off, about to make a huge mistake? Don’t you kind of need to make that mistake, move through it and learn from it, in order to get to the next stage of your journey? After all, you can’t skip a rung on the ladder of life!
Your turn: have you ever decided against doing something in anticipation of the pushback you might face? How do you deal with pushback?
And if you’ve found this post helpful, please share it with a friend! I’d be forever grateful.