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Beware the Dream Squasher

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Sat down to eat my lunch yesterday, turned on the TV to take a little time out and there was a re-run of Everybody Loves Raymond on. Perfect. Couldn't have planned it better. Food, couch and Raymond — nirvana.

Such simple creatures, us men. So easy to please. But maybe that's just me. I love that show — even the re-runs. Very well written. Clever. Anyway, Deborah (Ray's wife) had decided that she wanted to re-enter the work force after an extended period of time raising kids and managing the home. She was very excited. Predictably, this notion was met with underwhelming support by the socially inappropriate, selfish, and emotionally challenged Ray and his mother (Marie).

Ray felt that his wife shouldn't "need" to work and should have all her needs met by being a mother and a wife; somehow he found a way to bring the situation back to himself and his needs. As he always does. Fancy a man doing that? Strange.

Anyway, the more Ray and Marie tried to simulate happiness and enthusiasm (for Deborah's job-hunting endeavors), the more it was apparent that they didn't want her to re-ignite her career at all; they wanted her to fail. Deborah was hurt by their lack of support. She labeled them both "dream squashers."

I loved it when that term came out of her mouth because it so accurately and succinctly describes so many people that I've met over my journey. You've met a bunch of them too; they're everywhere. If you try (even a little bit), you can picture at least one or two of them. Right?

They are a first cousin of the Energy Vampire. You may even be related to one. Closely perhaps. They feel compelled to tell you why you can't or won't achieve your goals and dreams. Or why you're silly to try. Or why now is not the right time. Or how it's not safe and why. "I'm telling you this for your own good."

Or how they tried something similar, and it's just not worth it. Or how chasing your dreams doesn't pay the bills. Dream Squashers work under numerous pseudonyms; here are a few of the common ones:

1. The voice of reason.

2. A concerned friend.

3. An "expert".

4. Dad.

5. Mum.

Now, before I receive any abusive comments, let me clarify one thing — Dream Squashers are not to be confused with the people in your life who are genuinely trying to protect your best interests; there is much great advice to be taken (graciously) from friends and family. But sometimes they are one and the same. They don't mean to be, or want to be — but sometimes they are Dream Squashers.

Here are some tips for dealing with the Dream Squashers who might come into your world:

1. Realise that they don't understand dreams. Your dreams anyway. They don't need to; only you do. Don't try and persuade, convert them or convince them.

2. Be direct with them. "If I want your feedback, advice or input, I'll let you know, thanks." Don't let other people tell you what your dreams, goals or standards should be. Many will try.

3. Be selective about who you share your dreams with.

4. If you want your dream to become a reality, it needs to be attached to a practical action plan. Dreaming is great but not enough (of itself) to create results.

5. Avoid the career Dream Squasher at all costs — they exist. They delight in bringing others down and strategically and viciously raining on your parade. They are typically sarcastic, condescending, critical, arrogant and self-righteous. They resent the success of others (I think I've met most of them). Usually they are miserable and have achieved nothing (much) themselves. Other than that, they're great.

6. Don't be precious; there will always be critics, 'experts' and Dream Squashers.
Toughen up. Don't expect universal support. Enjoy it when it's there.. but don't expect it. If you crumble every time you encounter resistance, your therapist will be rich and you'll be frustrated. And poor. Successful people are resilient. Use the resistance to make you stronger and to develop those much-needed skills.

7. Succeed.
Apart from the sense of satisfaction, the joy, the fun and personal growth you'll experience, it will annoy the crap out of the Dream Squashers.

And ya gotta love that.

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About Craig Harper