I was at a family event when I first discovered that I had an unsupportive family. My uncle came over, started chatting and asked me how I was looking for a job. At this point, I’d just won a major business award for an outstanding green transport company and was in my 4th year of business. I replied I wasn’t looking for a job, I ran my own company from home. My uncle was embarrassed. My dad, rather than say I had started my own business (and in my dad’s opinion it would fail) he’d told the family I was unemployed.
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That explained a lot of the looks I’d been given over the years. Instead of them being proud that I was employing people and building a Brand that was known for bespoke deliveries, they thought I was doing nothing at home.
But it’s not just offline business owners that face family problems. Online business owners get it too. Sarah’s family think she spends all day on Facebook and is somehow paid to do that. They don’t see the hard work, and growing relationships. They see time being wasted. You should hear them talk about her Twitter following! And don’t get Sarah started on how one of the parents thinks that every blog post she ever writes is about them!
If you are a work from home parent who happens to be your own boss you’ve hit the jackpot when it comes to unsupportive families!
The family member who frowns upon your attempts to use the internet to build a business or monetize a hobby, probably has a few personal issues that should be addressed upfront.
Just knowing that these issues exist can make the world of difference and emotionally set you free from the blocks that derail you from being as successful as you want to be. This means less confusion, and more room for clarity and purpose in your business activities.
Surely you’ve been that busy entrepreneur, devoting hours of your precious energy to creating something that you just know is going to take off, only to have your husband or wife stroll on through and crush your enthusiasm with one carelessly placed remark or gesture. Then, one comment rolls into another, and before you know it you’re cringing every time they come into the room to have a go at you for spending hours on the computer.
If you want to move past the family dynamics that clog up your mind and keep you from being at your productive best, then it’s worth considering the reason why other people behave and react the way they do. Once we acknowledge, we can let go and move on. Some possibilities…
They lack an open-minded approach to life and business. For some people, “my way” is the only way, and it’s extremely difficult to break them out of these negative thought patterns. If a loved one has always held a 9 to 5 job, or worked for the government, or went to university and followed a set career path, then that, to them, maybe the only path… even if you know in your heart that you are capable of making your own way in a creative or online career.
They harbour firmly ingrained beliefs stemming from their own experiences. Maybe your wife or husband once tried to start a business but it didn’t work. Maybe they were wildly successful in some other area, and they can’t imagine that your approach which isn’t like their own, could work. Honestly, it’s not your job to convince them otherwise. But it IS your job to protect your own best interests, and be selective in what to share so as not to let other people crush your dreams!
They fear the unknown. Fear of the unknown is fairly rampant throughout society. People often imagine the worst when things get out of their realm of personal control. Have you ever accepted freelance work for pay? Could you ever have imagined yourself doing that, until you actually DID it? Everybody has some measure of fear and hesitation when embarking on a new venture. This is because there’s always risk. But remember that there’s risk in everything. Knowing that nothing is certain is a good way to break out of the naysaying mindset when family members are bringing you down!
They’re held back by perceptions of “how things are” or “how things should be”. These perceptions may come from parents, even generations past, of “this is how things are done in our family” or “this is the right way to live. Sometimes the best way to break people free of their limiting thoughts is to lead by example! Find a role model. Find a mentor. Find a business venting buddy where you can talk freely about business struggles and not be judged.
They lack confidence in their own life. Some people feel as though life is a game of control. “If I don’t control you, you’re going to try and control me.” This is a confidence thing. It leads to a needless back-and-forth game that could be spent far more productively and for far more positive results! If the person you married is like this, just remember that it’s a mindset that someone in their former life imprinted on them, and it has nothing to do with you. Just don’t get stuck in the endless cycle if you can help it at all. That may mean walking away in the middle of a conversation, but keeping your cool always wins in the end.
They have too much free time on their hands. People who enjoy pointing out perceived weaknesses in others, or tell them “they can’t” when really they can, probably don’t have enough occupying their time.
If family members begin to meddle in your affairs and say discouraging things about the work you do, disarm them with some busywork. You can either saddle them with a project, (“Here, help me create this family album of old photos!”) or find ways to delegate chores. At the very least, the prospect of them suddenly having to perform a task will get them out of the house and out of your hair so you can work on building your dreams in peace!
They need to feel better about themselves. Take comfort in knowing that a family member who tries to dissuade you from doing what you love probably has some self-esteem issues. Rather than making a person who already feels badly about themselves feel even worse, just sit quietly in the awareness that this is taking place. This simple knowing is often powerful enough to carry you through those tough times when their thoughtless remarks could potentially distract you from accomplishing what you set out to do. And knowing that they feel badly inside may even inspire you to help them move into a higher realm of awareness.
Their poor listening skills can lead to poor understanding. Both men and women can be poor listeners. So don’t think this is entirely about husbands, though it is far more common to hear “My husband doesn’t listen to me” than the converse. One way to get a male to listen more is to ONLY talk to him about Very Important Things That Need Attention, and leave the rest out. Let’s face it, in this day and age we have plenty of alternate means of communication. So if you feel the need to get some adult feedback and you know you won’t get it from your spouse, then take it online or meet up with a friend who you connect with instead. Good friends are a true blessing when husbands or wives don’t measure up in the listening department!
They take you for granted because they don’t know any better. If you feel unappreciated in your relationship, you can come to terms with the emotions and then move past them and onto more productive and positive pursuits. This will probably happen in cycles, but at least when it does you can be aware and rest easy knowing the challenge will soon be over.
Talking with a coach or counsellor, telling your troubles to a friend… these are great ways to get the understanding and appreciation you’ve been craving. You can walk away from the chat “full up” on friend love, fueled by supportive colleagues, and ready once again to face a new day full of challenges!
They simply lack understanding of what it takes to be successful. Particularly for those who have never attempted to build a business from nothing… some people don’t realize that “get rich quick” schemes simply don’t work, and that it will take possibly years of dedicated effort to communicate, network, build systems and go through a series of trial and error before hitting upon the exact formula for your own personal success.
If they see that you’ve been busily working for 3 whole months with no results to show for it… well, that’s not a very long time at all, considering the life of a viable business.
Besides: why shouldn’t slow-and-steady be your model for personal excellence, especially if you’re challenged with having to balance work and home life, and the internet is so favourable for slow growth? The best way to break free from naysaying family members is to realize that “they just don’t get it” and that’s not your fault.
You can do this. Yes, it would be fantastic to have a supportive family but you cannot change who they are. You can only change how you react to them.
If you want to see how working with someone like me can help keep your dreams alive and your sanity intact then book in a call.
Kevin Arrow is the CEO of the Online Visibility Academy where ethical entrepreneurs can train in digital marketing skills
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