The Naysayers

We all know them. People who tend to be negative, who have difficulty thinking outside of the box, who go around, consciously or unconsciously, squelching dreams, ideas and visions.

I call them the Naysayers.

I’ve encountered a few of them in my own life and many more in the lives of the people for whom I advocate. Many of the phone calls I get are peppered with accounts of the effecct of Naysayers in the lives of pwd. From the kid with cerebral palsy trying to get his own apartment to the twenty something blind woman highly degreed and encountering employment discrimination, their stories are the same. Naysayers try to squelch their goals.

I tell them one simple thing: don’t let them. Don’t even listen to the list of reasons why you can’t do things. Keep being resourceful and creative. For every Naysayer, you will meet someone who supports your goals.

I can promise you that – even if sometimes that person has to be the one you look at in the mirror.

Here’s how to spot a Naysayer. Unlike someone who is an Ally and is trying to present sound suggestions or a balanced view of things (i.e. a reality check), their remarks tend to be one sided and close off all opportunities. They say things like:

“You can’t do that!” (a variant: “You shouldn’t do that!)
“Do you think you’re going to be the first (quad or fill in the blank) to pull that off?”
“You need to understand that not being able to (fill in the blank) is part of being disabled.”
“You’d be easier to be around if you would just accept that this is what is like living with a disability.”
“It’s selfish of you to want to do (fill in the blank) since it creates work for everyone else.”
“It would be so much easier if you would give up on (fill in the blank). Can’t you see that?”
“I hope after this last disapointment you see that you’re never going to be able to (fill in the blank).”

And so on.

Spotting Naysayers and dealing with them, whether they are teachers, employers, doctors, nurses, colleagues, family members, friends or others, is a great step toward removing barriers that will keep you from achieving what you want. Once you can see the difference between someone who is an ally and someone who is a naysayer, your support system will grow and nourish you no matter what your personal goals are.

Copyright 2007 Ruth Harrigan


Filed under essay

4 responses to “The Naysayers

  1. Great post, Ruth! I’ve often said my biggest disability is other people’s attitudes; naysayers are the worst, the most disabling. I let their opinions go in one ear and out the other, before continuing reaching for my dreams. And, you know, I’ve accomplishment way more than the naysayers believed I would. Now, who is really the disabled one?

  2. NTE

    Yes, the Naysayers are a prominent group, unfortunately. It is such a bonus, though, to be able to prove them wrong.

  3. This is definitely something I can relate to. My mum tends to always worry if I will be able to achieve the things I want to, like living independantly, travelling alone on public transport. etc. I’ve learned not to listen to these kind of things and just go for it. And I’ve already proved to her I can achieve more than she originally thought.

  4. Pingback: Disability Blog Carnival #18… and a baby? Perhaps? « Retired Waif

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