Chances are there is at least one significant person in your life who thinks that all this charmed-life stuff is ridiculous. They may have told you to grow up, be realistic, and get with the program. Of course, it’s their program, some variation on the theme of “Very few people do anything exceptional, and you won’t be one of them.”
They might begrudge the time you spend reading books like this one and putting the suggestions you find there into practice. They may cite every time you’ve been sad or angry or things didn’t work out the way you wanted as evidence that you’re deluding yourself.
On the other hand, you could be living or working with people who are nice enough but who are convinced that they missed any chance at a charmed life a long time ago, and they don’t think much of your odds either. They may never make a discouraging remark, but their sadness and resignation are like a black hole in the next cubicle or on the other side of the bed.
The task of charming a life becomes onerous in the face of criticism and even, if you’re sensitive, in the presence of someone else’s penetrating negativity. It’s natural to want to respond by trying to explain yourself and prove your point, but that takes a pretty good talker. Negative people often lettered in debate.
You may also be tempted to downplay your dreams and keep them to yourself. This works better than arguing, but too much censorship eats away at the soul. Your assignment, then, is to live a charmed life in the midst of people who don’t believe you can do it, and to accomplish this despite them, not to spite them.
For starters, do a reality check and make sure that your actions and aspirations pass muster with your own rational mind and with the charmed-life peers and mentors who are helping you along. If they don’t, you play right into the hands of the cynics – or even make a naysayer out of a potential supporter.
For example, I know a woman who did one day’s work as a movie extra. Some assistant director mentioned that she’d done well, and that was all it took to get her to give up her job – a good one that she’d like a lot – to try to become an actress.
You have to know by now that I live on stories like “forty-twoyear-old, never had a drama class, takes up acting.” But even in my mind, “taking up acting” and “quitting the day job” are distinctly different animals. I was so shocked when she told me that I forgot to be encouraging and said instead, “You’re kidding, right?” I hurt her feelings without intending to and didn’t help at all.
Once you’re certain in your own mind that the charmed life you’re building is one that can exist in the world as we know it, you’re ready for:
A Charmed-Life Guide to Coexistence
Let others be other. Extend to those around you the same respect and the same degree of autonomy you want for yourself, even if some of these people are not yet showing them to you. Allow your family, friends, and associates the dignity of their convictions, even if theirs are light-years apart from yours. You deserve the same consideration from them, of course. If you don’t get it, rise above what they’re unable to give and respect yourself even more.
Claim your autonomy. The fact that someone holds an opinion does not mean you have to share it. You can only live your own life, hold your own beliefs, and follow your own star. There’s nothing that says you can’t be a fi ne coworker, friend, sibling, or mate, even when you and the other person choose to see something (or several things) differently.
As an autonomous being, you have every right to pursue your charmed life regardless of what anyone thinks about that. You may not want to advertise what you’re doing by making your life list the screen saver on the family computer, but if some onlooker’s opinion of what you’re doing keeps you from doing it, you’re playing into their hands and putting your autonomy out on the curb for pickup.
Refrain from trying to convert anybody. Some people turn the old saw “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” into “If you can’t beat ’em, get ’em to join you.” It doesn’t work. If you’re expecting the best and detoxing your life, it might seem that the ticket to paradise would be to get your controlling spouse or your critical sister to try it, too.
Nothing would be a bigger turnoff for them. Instead, don’t say much (or don’t say anything) about what you’re doing. Just let it work in your life, and one day this person may come to you wanting to know how to get what you’ve got.
Take your doubts elsewhere. It’s not always easy to remain positive, value yourself, honor others, and stay focused on the big picture. Sometimes you’ll fall short, and you may wonder occasionally if it’s even worth the trouble.
This is when you need to turn to an action partner or another reassuring friend. It can be tempting to want to dump your doubts on anyone within earshot, but somebody who didn’t understand what you were trying to do when it was working splendidly won’t understand when it’s going poorly, either.
Surround the person or people who don’t understand with radiant light. When people are closed-minded, jealous, or just so sad that your happiness comes at them like a slap in the face, hold them in the light. Imagine them surrounded by it and soothed by it. See the light you’re sending attaching to their own inner light. It may be down to a pilot, but it’s in there, and the reinforcements you’re sending will help it strengthen and grow.
If all else fails, get some distance. In most cases, you can create such good boundaries for yourself and live with such focus and self-containment that either the other person will make some changes or you’ll be so content within yourself that it no longer matters if they change or not.
Do everything within your power (and with the help of a Higher Power) to bring about this degree of contentment. If you’ve exhausted all avenues of advice and counsel, and you’re working or living with someone who refuses to allow you to shine your own light, you may have to get some distance.
Relationships aren’t always easy – “They’re the advanced class,” somebody told me – but getting a shot at a life on earth can’t be a slam-dunk either. Living yours the way you want and striving to reach your highest potential aren’t just little extras that are nice when you can get them. You’ve been entrusted with a precious life all your own. Although you owe those around you kindness, consideration, honesty, and respect, you owe yourself, and perhaps even your Creator, a life well lived.
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It will look like this: Proceed Despite Detractors