Are people trying to hold you back? Here’s what to do.

traffic cone When I was a younger man, I was an angry man. I had a thin skin and I took everything to heart. I lived in a constant state of being offended because someone didn’t take me seriously enough, or mocked me in some way. Even when my friends would joke around with me, it was always a gamble as to whether or not I would take it the right way or get upset. Remember what I said in a previous post? We all want everyone to always at all times think the very best of us. I realize I’m not alone in this. Many of us struggle with this same thing.

I thank God that I worked with one man who had the guts to be direct with me about this. He came to me one day and said “You need to deal with your attitude. No one likes working with you and you might get fired”. In my opinion, he was a pretty nice and well liked man. I also knew that he didn’t want me to get fired. I knew that his words were coming from real concern, so I asked him for help. One of the first assignments that he gave me was to read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It started me down the road to changing myself and helped me immeasurably. I now try to read this book at least once every two years.

I began to really apply myself to be better in these areas and I began to really grow. Some years later, the son of a co-worker was working with us as a general worker over the summer. I was working near him one day and tried on several occasions to start a friendly conversation to no avail. He would not converse with me. I have known this young man since he was in grade school and he was a good boy. As far as I could remember, I had not done anything to hurt him. I didn’t understand why this happened. It’s hard to endure that kind of treatment and not get “sharp” with people, but I didn’t. I thought about it a lot though. After calming down and thinking about it logically, what I realized was that I was not spoken well of in his house. I worked with one of his parents and they, unfortunately, were still seeing me as the angry young man. This young man wasn’t seeing me for who I am, he was seeing me through a bias that was put into him long ago.

I realized that even though I had changed (and I had dramatically), I was not going to be allowed to redefine myself to these people. To them I was always going to be an angry young man. They were going to see everything I did through that lens.

We see that God told Abram to get out of his country, away from his relatives, and away from his father’s house and God would make of him a great nation (Gen 12:1-2). The Bible isn’t specific about this but I wonder if in order to make Abram a great nation, God first had to get him away from people who would not let him change. What if staying there would have kept him from ever reaching out to receive God’s will and plan. Abram may have had a relative that “put him in his place” every time he saw them.

Not even Jesus was immune to this. Mark 6:1-6 tells us that He went into His own neighborhood and began to teach in the synagogue but His friends, neighbors and family were astonished. They said “How’s he doing these miracles? And who taught him this stuff? He’s doing all these miracles, where did he get this power? Isn’t this the carpenter’s boy? Didn’t he fix the spoke on my ox cart just the other day? My boy has a crush on his little sister! His momma lives right over there!” The Bible says that even though they acknowledged that He was healing people and teaching wonderful things, that they were still offended by Him. The Bible says that He marveled at their unbelief and couldn’t do any mighty works there because of it. They were unwilling to let Him change! It was God’s will but that didn’t matter. They knew who He really was…or so they thought.

So what do you do? Sometimes the people who want to hold you back or hold you down are people that you really care about. How do you deal with it? The best way is to do what Jesus did.

    1. Identify it. Jesus called it out and pulled it into the light of day. I think it’s worthy of note that according to what Jesus said; a Prophet has no honor in the same places that God told Abram to leave. Country, kinfolks & father’s house. The people who know you best are often the ones who don’t like it when you are growing. Jesus pointed this out to them.

      If you want to maintain these relationships, you will need to address your situation directly. If these people truly care about you, they will adjust and be supportive.

    1. Don’t let it stop you! Jesus didn’t let it stop Him. He still laid His hands on a few sick folks and healed them. Even in the face of opposition that was trying to get Him to back down and get “back in His place”, He kept on doing what He knew was right.

      You need to make a quality decision that you will not stop doing what’s right just because others aren’t recognizing or accepting it. I am fully persuaded that a person should act according to their own decisions and not always just be reacting to what others do to them. Make the right choice and then dig in and stick to it.

    2. Work toward correcting the situation. Jesus went around the villages teaching. Even if only a few would listen, the seed would grow and the message would spread. He set about to build faith in the people. 

      You will need to become your own evangelist so to speak. Begin walking it out. So you’ve changed? Prove it! Every day with every step and every word.

    3. Set yourself apart. Abram left his whole identity behind in order to become what God had for him. You may not need to be that drastic, but you may need to leave some relationships behind. In drug and alcohol treatment, one of the things you must do in order to be successful at recovery is to Change Your Playground. The recovering person has to find friends that will not be sticking the addiction in their face all the time. Very often, if someone relapses, it’s because they started hanging out with old friends again. Changing your playground can be very painful but in order to move forward, it may be necessary. It also doesn’t mean that you have to amputate certain people, It may just mean that you have to keep them at arm’s length for a while.

When you start moving forward and begin to pass the limitations and boundaries that were holding you back, many will be supportive, but some won’t. The important thing is that you move in the right direction and that you fortify yourself to stay the course. Don’t let the negativity of others hold you back and continue to define you.

Join the conversation. How did you overcome the resistance from others who wouldn’t allow you to change? I would love to hear your comments.

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4 Responses to Are people trying to hold you back? Here’s what to do.

  1. Mary says:

    This is very good teaching. Thanks.

  2. D says:

    I agree with Mary. God has helped me grow in so many ways, and yet I still mess up royally at times. Usually in the area of conflict and communication. Receiving Christ-centered teaching on practical spiritual and everyday issues is so needed. The first step, Identifying It, I have found difficult as I have been shut down and pretty much told I have a problem in forgetting the past, or forgiving etc. I know I am different, and I know I am far from where I’d like to be. Jesus has helped me to know he loves me, and it is his approval that matters. I’d love for everyone to get along and understand one another. I think we make many assumptions that we don’t check out. I would love to take a crash course in Jesus’ Communication 101.

    I now recognize that some relationships aren’t healthy and although I wish they were and have tried to connect and establish them, must accept and deal with the disappointment and hurt. I don’t want to hurt those who have hurt me, and I have and I’m sure I will.

    I like, Change your Playground, never heard it put that way. Also where you speak of not having to amputate people. We can’t control what they do or don’t do, but we can control if we subject ourselves to it. No one can stop our change and growth in God but ourselves. Walk on, walk on. Join me in this race, cheer from the sideline, or stay home, I’m in either way.
    God help us. Those that want to be helped, and help those who don’t, realize they need his help.

    • Art says:

      Thank you Deb. You are insightful and I value your comments. Navigating interpersonal relationships can be a mine field. It’s very frustrating when others don’t see what you see. Dale Carnegie said it best “If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you re automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be”. Most people don’t want what they are getting but don’t want anyone to tell them what to do.

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