Dream Snatcher

images dream snatcherI was terrified when I contemplated going back to school to complete my Masters degree. To be truthful, I wasn’t a terrific student, although I had always excelled in the workplace. My fears about school were so strong that every now and then, the subject turned up in my nightmares.  Usually, I was running to get to my class and would realize that I had not studied for the final. (Which, of course, was happening right at that moment.)  In the nightmare, I could feel the anxiety coursing through my body as I asked myself why I hadn’t attended the classes or prepared appropriately for the exam. This scenario played itself out over and over— whenever I was feeling anxious in my life.


Yes, I had fears about school and succeeding. So, when I made the decision to go back to school, you can imagine what an obstacle that represented to me. I began to tell people my plan, with the hope that every time I shared my news, I would become a little more self-confident about the path I had chosen.  This was my dream and the only thing that was stopping me from going after it was my fear.


As you know, every time you share your life plans with someone, you run the risk of receiving a negative reaction. I remember vividly sharing the news with a good friend who reacted in a way that I couldn’t have expected.  As I excitedly laid out my plans for the future, she questioned my decision.


“Why would you do that?  How can you possibly be successful when you still have two kids at home? That’s not going to work”.


This cut straight to my heart. I needed a friend that supported and encouraged me to move forward.  I didn’t need help with feeling any more vulnerable or unsure about my decision. I was more than capable of handling that one.


This person was a DREAM SNATCHER.


You know the type. They could be loving members of your family or long-time friends.  The bottom line is that they discourage you from wanting more and believing that you are entitled to receive more. They go out of their way to share all the reasons why your decision is a bad idea and it’s not going to work.


But why do they do this? There are many possible reasons but these two are the most common.


They don’t want you to get hurt.

It’s possible that they have lived their own life following the rules and doing what’s safe.  They love you and they can’t bear to see you get hurt, stumble or take the wrong path.  Therefore, they will convince you to keep things predictable.  They will encourage you to stay where you’re familiar and comfortable.  Their pain while watching you risk this fall is so great that they feel compelled to convince you to stay “status quo”. They just can’t take the risk of having to see you struggle.


Your plans make them feel vulnerable and insecure.

Nothing is more threatening to the Dream Snatcher than watching others move forward and go after their dreams.  The Dream Snatcher doesn’t have the courage to take this leap; therefore, they feel relieved if they can discourage you from taking it.  Your ability to move forward is uncomfortable for them— they might have to face some decisions in their own life.  When my friend asked me how I could go back to school, she really was talking about herself. This was really about her, not me.


There will always be plenty of people in life who want to give you reasons why your dream is NOT valid.  Dream snatchers are everywhere and they’re more than happy to go into detail as to why your dream will fail.  Be sure to surround yourself with individuals that encourage, empower and support your efforts to go after your dreams and live life to the fullest.



Women and Friendships

I was having dinner with two work friends the other evening and the talk turned to women and friendships.  One of my friends shared how she had recently joined a new group and certain women were making it abundantly clear that she was not accepted.  She had “heard” that they resented her material possessions— her house, her car etc. Of course, this was conveyed in a passive-aggressive manner. Never the less, she had received the very clear message that she was not like them.  She was different and that was not a good thing.  She felt understandably angry about not being accepted, but beneath the anger was hurt.


The conversation turned to why women take part in this negative behavior.  You know, the junior high and high school antics that are forever etched in our memory. Well, at least they are in mine.  I remember clearly being iced out of my clique in 8th grade by a group of mean girls. The hurt was devastating at that age and it truly felt as if I wouldn’t survive this experience.


The pain is not any less intense when you encounter the same behavior as an adult. In the 2005 book, “Mean Girls Grown Up”, women studies and relational aggression author Cheryl Dellasega explored what happened to those mean girls when they grew up.  Will it shock you if I tell you that the author concluded that a significant number of them continue to act aggressively (or passive-aggressively) in their personal and professional life?  The power games and targeted, attacking behavior are a part of their regular interactions.


So what can you do when you encounter this type of behavior?


1. As difficult as it is, don’t get caught up in this toxic encounter.  Step outside the experience and take an objective look at the situation. Sometimes you can get so tied up in your own hurt and anger, you can fail to see how this is less about your insecurities and more about someone else’s. This is typical behavior for a woman that feels threatened.  Understand and accept that you probably have nothing to do with her reaction. If you can do a self-check and agree that you have been nothing but kind and respectful to this individual, then try your best to move on.


2.  Focus on the friendships that nourish and feed you.  It’s human behavior to focus on what we can’t have and the negatives in our life.  However, force yourself to focus on the good and the quality friendships that do exist.  Invest your time in the relationships that are based on non-judgmental acceptance. These friendships are proof that you are more than capable of lasting, loving relationships.


3.  If you’re feeling strong and your emotions are in check, attempt to have a healthy discussion with the individual. State the facts, convey how the situation made you feel, and say what you would like to see happen. To be effective, you must approach this devoid of all emotion, name-calling, and finger pointing. Don’t expect miracles in this approach— chances are good that she’ll refuse to take any responsibility. However, expressing your feelings in a healthy manner could help YOU feel some power in the situation and more at peace.


It’s difficult enough for women to succeed with the pressures in today’s workplace. All women need to support one another and REFUSE to turn a blind eye to mean girl behavior in the workplace and beyond.


I’m calling an all out war— who’s with me?