If someone you love is chasing their dreams and it makes you uncomfortable, read this.
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
There they go again. Down the rabbit hole of busy excitement, nonstop chattering about this thing they have always wanted to do, and spending so much of their free time in pursuit of this dream of theirs. Sometimes it sounds really amazing, especially if things worked out. Other times it just sounds like a pipe dream. You love this person and if this is too good to be true, the last thing you want for them is to see them crash and burn. Or maybe you just feel a sense of annoyance. You love them but boy, do they sure go on and on about this dream they are working on! You’re getting tired of hearing about it. Maybe you’ve voiced your feelings and they got really upset with you. It’s become a bit of a sore spot in your relationship with them.
Perhaps some of these feelings make you feel guilty. Or perhaps you feel righteously concerned. None of these are necessarily wrong. But isn’t it interesting how much is coming up for you when the person you care about is pursuing their dream? Is there a tiny part of you that is wondering why it is stirring up so much inside of you? After all, this is their dream. Their choices. How much impact would our loved one’s success and failure have on us?
This issue forces us to examine a few things for ourselves.
If this is our partner or spouse and we are financially dependent on them, then understandably, their risks are in some way our own risks too. Concern here is warranted. But discern between concern and fear. One comes from a practical and reasonable preparedness of an uncertain future, the other comes from belief in a certain (read: negative) future. Beware of how your own life experiences determines which view you take. More on this in a bit.
Emotional dependency can also cause us to take pause when our loved one is pursuing something radical for their lives. Again, if this is a partner, are they paying less attention to you? Does that make you then feel in competition with this dream or project they are so excited about? Wish they had this passion for you instead? Communication is key to working through this if you feel like they aren’t dedicating enough time to your relationship. Couples therapy can really help you and your partner sort out how to balance time away from each other and time together.
Our own beliefs
About the future I hate cliches but the glass half empty/half full principle applies here, in a rather big way if you think about it. When looked at closely, how you support your loved one is going to be dependent on your own outlook on the world, your beliefs about the kinds of people who find success, and whether you’ve ever known successful people personally. Of course your beliefs about your loved one apply here too.
Obviously you love this person very much. You want to be supportive but perhaps you worry that if by supporting them you are enabling them and by discouraging them that you are somehow a voice of reason to protect them from something going horribly wrong. This perspective is born out of cynicism. It is also a reflection of the beliefs we have about ourselves. Which brings me to my next point and the primary take away I want you to have from reading this.
About our own dreams This might be the scariest thing to consider and one I would argue to be the main driver of our own resistance feelings when it comes to our loved one’s pursuit of success. Throughout our lives we inherit or take on limiting beliefs that keep us living small and out of alignment from our own dreams. We make excuses about practicalities, etc. But if we wanted something badly enough, depending on how far away from ourselves we have gotten, we may have a little or a lot of parts to move around in our lives to make it happen. I’d argue the biggest hurdle is overcoming your own fears. Your loved one may likely have some thoughts on this.
So when our loved ones are diving headlong into a hot pursuit of a big dream, it can cause us anxiety and we aren’t always conscious of what it means. Dig deeper and you may find that your loved one’s behavior is merely triggering you and it may be high time to examine your resistance to those deeper longings within yourself. So many of us have been socialized out of living out our deepest yearnings and then we internalize those beliefs (of the well meaning others that didn’t face what you will soon feel the courage to face). We might have thoughts of, “No, that’s impossible, I can’t do that,” “How will I make money?” Etc.. You see how this stuff gets perpetuated?
So before returning to your loved one with either your full stop warning or total loving support, check in with yourself about where you stand with your own dreams. Remember, therapy can help you work through these concerns and will not only help smooth over your relationship, you could take your relationship and your personal growth to the next level if you embrace your deepest desires to your fullest potential.