If there's one thing I absolutely can't stand, it's somebody who pisses on somebody's else's dreams. That's just the worst. Almost as bad, though, is people who let others piss on their dreams. If you're shocked by my choice of words, well, good. Maybe my words will shove you out of your comfort zone. I'm not here to coddle you, remember—I'm your COACH; sometimes I'm gonna make you uncomfortable.
I observe this all the time, people trying to be "helpful," but really just pissing on people for being different, being how God made them, wonderful and magnificent in their unique genius:
"Why are you looking at those brochures for that dance program, Jessica? You need to think about your future."
"Are you out of your mind, Jimmy? I'm not paying for college so you can major in 'special effects.'"
"All you do is play with bugs all the time. You should be more social. This is why other kids make fun of you.
"My daughter's always drawing in her notebooks, but I'm worried because how's she gonna make a living with that."
"Acting? Don't be ridiculous, son. Do you know anyone who ever succeeded as an actor?"
Any of this sound familiar? In my life, ministry, and business I don't permit this kind of toxic conversation. In fact, it's the quickest way to poison young minds and even adult ones. That makes them murderers in my book. I'm completely serious. Nobody's got a right to kill another person's dreams, and it is a lasting crime, one that affects them for a lifetime.
How do I know this? It's because I run into people almost daily who have been traumatized by others who have pissed on their dreams. I know that's a strong term: trauma. But if you consider that they internalize the pain, allow it to manifest as fear, and subconsciously prevent the fear from allowing them to take risks and have new experiences, I can think of no better term to describe it.
Coaching people in this position is delicate. I invest a lot of time loving on them. Now, it's important to emphasize that this is not merely a strategy or a "trick," but a genuine core value to my practice and my ministry. If I didn't truly love people, I couldn't work with them. And the only way I am capable of loving them—the only way I have the capacity to love them—is because I know that God loves me. As mundane as that may sound, it frees me up to love people without my ego getting in the way. So every bit of energy and time I invest in loving on people is worthwhile.
Something I find myself saying to each of the folks I counsel is this: "I am on your team. I love you and support you 100%. I believe in you and in God's plan for you, that he loves you and he created you to be like nobody else, that he has a plan for you. But now I challenge you to move beyond me. You must believe in yourself more than I believe in you. It's good that I believe in you, but you have to be your biggest fan. Bottom line: No one ought to believe in you more than you, not even your mother.
"Imagine yourself at the center of a ring you carry around wherever you go. Inside that ring are the people closest to you, people you trust and know well. They're inside the ring because you allow them in there. But I'm going to challenge you to ask yourself which of those people are supporting your dreams, your aspirations, your goals, and your values."
It's at this point that my client usually snaps alert. "Wait, what?"
"Which of them support your core values? Your dreams and aspirations? Those people you keep in the ring. And which are the ones who take the wind out of your sails? Because those people have gotta go." I can see in their eyes my point is hitting home.
The good news is that you can control this ring you carry around with you. You have the power to decide who's allowed in your inner circle. It's not like people get to come in whenever they like. It's your circle, after all; think about who you entrust with your inner life: the people with whom you discuss your dreams, your goals, your aspirations for the future. Think about who is supportive of those things and who is not. Then decide to mentally select those supportive folks for that inner ring.
Be intentional about spending your time, energy, and focus discussing your dreams, goals, and aspirations only with those people inside your protective ring. Be specific and ask them to hold you accountable to certain tasks regarding those things. The more you practice this, the more you'll realize it's an empowering practice. Reciprocate with those people; don't be selfish, but be supportive in return; remember, these are your best friends, the folks you want on your team.
So, what if you've had your dreams crushed? How can you get things back on track? How do you overcome the fear that's hard-coded in your psyche and seems to sabotage you at every turn? How can you turn off that inner voice that mimics the dream killer's when you question your life choices? I suggest it's to give yourself permission to feel the fear . . . and then move forward anyway. Now, that may seem flippant, but stay with me: I'm saying that you need to allow yourself to feel the discomfort caused by the fear for as long as it takes to identify:
1.) How you feel in the moment about yourself, your intended action in that moment, your dream, your personal identity, and your life purpose,
2.) Whether the voice in your head has the right to speak into your life and make decisions for you,
3.) Whether you want to give the voice such power, and why?
4.) Whether you decide, right here and now, to allow the voice to speak or to forever be silent.
Only after "feeling the fear" do I suggest you "move forward anyway." This is because it's the prescription for the definition of courage. Courage isn't acting without fear; it's acting despite fear. It's feeling the fear . . . and moving forward anyway. No one who ever did something heroic, something courageous, did so without fear. Mostly, they were terrified. But they did it anyway because it was worth doing.
Your brain feels fear because it's trying to protect you. It remembers the dream killers and what they taught you when they pissed on your dreams. So when you're about to take a risk and go for it, your brain is going to flash a spotlight on your fear and remind you of the dream killer.
Guess what, though? You can make a decision to go another way. You can feel the fear and do it anyway. That's a very different way than allowing fear to make the decision for you, isn't it?
Mind hacking takes practice, but like all things you practice, the more you do it, the more ingrained the patterns become in your brain pathways. Soon it becomes a habit, a discipline. And soon you replace the brain subroutine that was there to protect you with one that empowers you. And that's how you overwrite the dreamkillers' software with new code you wrote yourself. It's code you were capable of creating all along, it's just that you were stuck in the loop your dreamkillers installed in your brain. No, this isn't easy, but it's some of the hardest work you'll ever love. And I love coaching my clients through it.
Dom De Bellis is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker, coach, and minister of the Gospel. When he's not serving his church or Boy Scout Troop, he is helping people in cities grow organic food.