With a text? In person? In an e-mail? By phone? Should you tell certain family members and not others? Should you tell them during a family get-together or one-on-one? Maybe you shouldn’t tell them at all? Or maybe you should only tell the ones who are going to be supportive? Should you wait for the “right time” or spontaneously tell them?
These are some of the questions we ask ourselves when we’re faced with the choice to tell family members something that we think they will respond to poorly, or in a way that’s less than what we’re looking for.
However, the concern with telling our family about our decision to chase our dreams is not necessarily about their response. The biggest issue you have is not with your family, it’s with yourself.
YOU’RE the one following your dreams. YOU’RE the one who has to do what YOU need to do to make your dreams come true. YOU’RE the one who has to be Independent Enough to grow into the person YOU need to become in order to move towards your dreams. YOU’RE the one who will lead others as you develop the “team” around you to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish. Not your family.
In order to do this….
Make sure you’re strong enough
It is important to make sure you’re intact, strong, committed, and have enough momentum towards those dreams before you mention anything to a family member.
That is, making sure you’re Independent Enough to stand by what you believe is right for you, regardless of how any member of your family may react.
To do this, it is essential to become self-reflective enough to know what messages you may be giving yourself that could create obstacles along the path to your dreams. For example: “This is going to be so hard.” “What if they are disappointed in me? “They’re going to think it’s stupid.”
Self-reflection will help you recognize the obstacles and begin working on changing those messages. Through self-reflection, you may realize that you need to learn how to become stronger in your convictions.
You may need to learn how to be Independent Enough to become more self-reliant as opposed to needing family feedback. You need to truly know that your dream is valid and right for you. This will come from self-reflection and figuring out what makes you stronger.
You may need to read more self-help books, go into therapy, take classes, or maybe be reckless and jump into what you want to accomplish without much thought. The dream you are chasing may be a tough one to accomplish, but you need to have done enough self-reflecting and have enough self-reassurance to stand in your own conviction regardless of what any family member says or does, positively or negatively.
Make sure you understand why you’re telling your family
This will require some insight into why you are even telling your family in the first place, or what you’re expecting to get from telling them. For example, many people tell family members about a dream they are chasing as a way of getting support, encouragement or help.
You may not get this kind of response, depending upon your family, which can put quite a damper on things. Sometimes when we’re looking for support and encouragement, we are actually looking for the love and support that we felt we never got growing up. When family responses fall short of our expectations, it creates discouragement more than anything else.
However, even if we do get the support we are looking for, this may not be so great. There’s been some research that says when you share a goal you’re trying to reach and you get a lot of support and praise for working on that goal—“Gee, that’s really terrific.” “I always knew you were talented, even as a youngster.” “I know you can accomplish anything you want”—there is a chemical in your brain that is emitted. The same chemical that is emitted when you’ve actually accomplished the goal.
This means you’re more likely to make less effort on the path to accomplishing your goals and actually hinder reaching your dream. We think we are telling our family because we feel close to them and want to share our life with them. That’s fair enough. But again, this may or may not, be so wise.
So, it’s going to be important to…
Keep in mind how the person you’re going to tell will react instead of how you wish they would react.
And how do you know this?
There’s a range of responses you can get from your family when telling them you’re going to chase your dreams. You likely have a good idea of what their responses will be since you’ve spent so much time telling them all sorts of things over the years. You really do know them; how they behave, what they will say, and who they are in relation to you. You know whether your family will be totally supportive, totally critical or somewhere in between.
Your insight may be clouded because you’re trying to get something from your family that you’ve never gotten before and probably will never get. Wishing, hoping, and expecting them to change, instead of knowing the reality, often gets in the way of developing the mature and adult characteristics you need to deal with your family, which is a major component to accomplishing your dreams.
For example, if you know your father is going to be upset and criticize you, you might consider telling him through a text instead of face to face. If your father is the kind of guy who is reasonable and can calmly sit down to share some wisdom about what you are trying to accomplish, then you’ll probably talk to him in person. By “knowing” who you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to answer the question of “how” to tell them as well as be better prepared for their response.
Make sure you’re going to still be committed to your dreams after you tell your family, no matter what.
A dream is all about accomplishing something greater than what you’ve tried to accomplish before. If you’ve done the work you’ve needed to do, then telling family members about your dreams can be empowering because at different points along the way to accomplishing your dream, you’re going to run into a lot of opposition and obstacles as well as support.
Opposition from strangers will feel similar to opposition from family members. Telling family members can actually strengthen your resolve, not because of what is said or done, but because you will have worked on and practiced being strong in your belief that your dream is important and worthwhile.
Taking this stand, having this attitude with your family feels empowering because you become Independent Enough to believe in your dreams while establishing a new relationship with your family. As you become stronger in relation to your family, you’ll become stronger in your relationship with the world and this will enable you to better face obstacles you may come across.
When you do the work you need to do to gain insight into yourself and your family and when you develop those characteristics about yourself that you need to develop, then your decision to tell your family about your dreams can be an important step toward your future.