Born to a conservative working class family in the former Soviet Union, in Kazakhstan, my parents always only had the best intentions for me.
As I learned over the years, their best intentions weren’t always actually what’s best for me. When we emigrated to Germany they hoped I could receive a better education and a secure, decent paying job in the corporate world.
The roles reversed: explain to your parents like you would to a child, why you need to do what you do.
The older I became, the more my family and I drifted apart in our understanding of what is worth striving for in life. You can imagine the initial shock of my parents when I told them that I was quitting my very well-paid job in order to pursue my own idea. There were countless discussions on why they thought it was a bad idea. They very much believe in the concept of a 9 to 5 job, and that life is only enjoyable on weekends and on vacation.
If you are in a similar situation, and you are dedicated to helping your family understand why you do what you do, it is important that you explain your motives in the most simple words, like you would to a child. Explain every aspect. Why is it important to you? Why do you think it's a different situation now vs. when your parents were young? What has changed?
We approach life from different perspectives. Compared to your parents' days, there is less of a need to stay in a job you don’t enjoy, or work for a supervisor who you're not compatible with. It is possible to approach life like this because we have more opportunities and companies to choose from, more tools and technologies to make ideas happen, that my parents, for example, didn’t have.
The blame game doesn’t help anybody.
When talking with parents it’s very important to remember that a blame game doesn’t help anybody. Not you, not your parents.
Don’t tell them they are wrong. Understand that from their perspective with the information and the tools they had, they might have been right. But with new information, your specific situation, your choices right be the right choices for you.
Don’t get me wrong, it will be a long and painful process until your parents start to understand, but it’s worth it if you don’t want to lose contact completely.
Distance yourself from poisonous nagging.
If you are in the situation where it is difficult to talk with your parents without blaming each other, without poisonous nagging and pessimism, then you should distance yourself. Minimizing the amount of time spent around them can be beneficial to your own sense of well-being. Literally increase the physical distance to your parents. Decrease the phone calls to cool it down a bit, but also tell your parents why you want to have this distance. From time to time, when the situation has cooled down a bit, you can attempt approaching them, and trying to re-initiate conversation. But don’t forget that the old blame game doesn’t help.
Friends should lift you up not drag you down.
With friends, I actually haven’t been as patient as with my family. I think that friends should lift you up and be supportive, not drag you down and poison your dreams with their pessimism. It’s not always so obvious. Sometimes pessimism manifests subconsciously and is hard to spot.
Think to yourself: does a friend leave you feeling negative more often than positive? And is it because they are angry at you, are they jealous of your ambition - or are they actually angry at themselves? In any case, let them know that they're making you miserable. It doesn’t help to bottle it up. Observe if they are willing to better or if they act intentionally hostile. Also be mindful that they might be in trouble or just depressed. If this is the case, the pessimist needs help.
"Actively cultivate positive friendships with other optimistic people."
If you have a pessimistic friend and you want to preserve your friendship because it means a lot to you, balance their pessimism with enough time away from their influence, to keep your own sense of positivity bubbling along. Actively cultivate positive friendships with other optimistic people. Especially as an entrepreneur, I think, you need to surround yourself with positive energy, with inspiring and aspiring people. Entrepreneurship can be a rollercoaster with high high ups and low low downs. You don’t need other people to drag you down additionally.
In the end, you are the creator of your life and you will have to live your life.
And nobody else.
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