Author Topic: Dealing with Negativity  (Read 7409 times)

Scottma

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Dealing with Negativity
« on: January 03, 2013, 07:55:18 AM »
So a general question - how do you all deal with perceived negativity towards life changes you make to become more frugal/mustachian/healthy? What I mean is this...anytime I talk with a coworker about bike commuting, it usually ends up with a knowing look and some "joking" comment doubting if I can really do it. I've never been one to be motivated by this, as some people are...it's mostly more of a burden. It's hard enough to try to get going bike commuting in the midwest in winter - why do people feel the need to add to that?


mustache brony

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2013, 08:06:49 AM »
Don't feed the parasprites, overwhelm them with your Optimism. Ignore their "knowing" look by knowing you can and have made the change!

Orvell

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2013, 08:27:35 AM »
I know where you're coming from. But Mustache Brony is right. You know what's best for you, so let your awesome soon-to-be-results do the talking.
I am the only bike commuter at my work place in the smallish town I live in and I also am doing it in the midwest in winter. You're not alone even though it may seem like it. :) My coworkers think I'm nuts, but I'm more-or-less in shape and when they complain about gas prices I just smile.
You can do it!
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 09:05:43 AM by Orvell »

cyclevillian

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2013, 08:52:07 AM »
Know that there are others out there biking away in the cold and enjoying our wallets getting fatter while our waists get smaller!

don't worry about the negativity, the comments will go away.. eventually. I'm also the only bike commuter at my work and it took a year or so of me biking to work almost everyday before my co-workers finally stopped calling me lance. I still get comments about being "crazy" for biking in the cold/rain/heat/wind etc. but not as many as i used to. now i get a decent amount of encouragement and if i do drive to work they are shocked!

arebelspy

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2013, 09:16:58 AM »
It Couldn't Be Done
By Edgar Guest

"Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
     But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
     Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
     On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
     At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
     And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
     Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
     There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
     The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
     Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
     That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it."
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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frugalcalan

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2013, 09:49:55 AM »
So a general question - how do you all deal with perceived negativity towards life changes you make to become more frugal/mustachian/healthy? What I mean is this...anytime I talk with a coworker about bike commuting, it usually ends up with a knowing look and some "joking" comment doubting if I can really do it. I've never been one to be motivated by this, as some people are...it's mostly more of a burden. It's hard enough to try to get going bike commuting in the midwest in winter - why do people feel the need to add to that?

I've been bike commuting for about three months now.  There's only one other person in the office who does it, but she's been doing it longer, and is very hardcore about it (rides through the snow, etc) so the presence of another bike commuter, while still unusual, isn't that shocking to my coworkers.

It's really easy to resort to self-effacing humor, when it comes to bike commuting.  Don't do it too much.  I might joke a bit about how I hope this will finally be the season reflective vests come into fashion, and similar, but over all I let people see how excited about it I am.  Cold?  Nope, you'd be amazed at how warm you get when you cycle!  Time?  Actually, it takes the same amount of time as the train.  I let them know it's an awesome way to relax and clear my head at the beginning and end of the day, that I love it way more than battling people for seats on the train, or the hassle of navigating a highway.

Most people aren't cruel.  They just want to justify their own lifestyle.  "Wow Scott," they might say, "it must have been really cold today."  If you reply, "yep, my legs are just about numb!" they will sound a bit sympathetic and you might think that they are judging you for making such a foolish transportation choice, and perhaps they are, but they are doing it because part of them is thinking, "if Scott is riding his bike to work, why aren't I?  I really need to get in shape, after all, that's my resolution this year."  They need to silence that voice, so another chimes in, "oh, he said it's cold?  That sounds horrible.  And I'm dashingly handsome, aren't I?  I don't need to work out more.  And these beautiful $150 pants would probably be destroyed by the bike chain.  Yeah.  Totally.  New topic, self.  Perhaps I'll start being healthy by stopping by that new sushi place for lunch..."

Norman Johnson

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2013, 10:04:25 AM »
I think some people believe that by doing something different from what they do, you are indirectly telling them they made the wrong choice. Or maybe they are jealous or think you are crazy. It doesn't matter. Just know that it's their issue or hang up, not yours and don't bother trying to change their opinion unless you are feeling sporting that day.

Keep on keeping on!

destron

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2013, 10:13:37 AM »
Actions speak louder than words. If you were to bike to work every day for the next three months, your coworkers will notice. They might see that it is possible to bike to work and ask you about it. On the other hand, they might drive home in their raised truck and be stressed out about all the bills they have to pay, pop a beer and laugh at you with their friends. Either way, I think you have the better chance of helping somebody to mustachianism by creating a good example.

Scottma

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2013, 12:22:58 PM »
Well you all are awesome - so glad for this forum. It's easy to feel like I'm the only one, because I am at my workplace. I'm not sure I could make the changes necessary for early retirement without this website to act as my support. Thanks again everyone for your insights and encouragement!

Kenoryn

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2013, 01:15:26 PM »
I hear you. When I talked about renovating my house, my mom used to roll her eyes and say, "Why don't you hire a professional to do it? You know, someone who actually knows what they're doing?" But I've persevered and now she just looks at me bemused like she can't understand it, but doesn't comment. I think frugalcalan is right that "Most people aren't cruel.  They just want to justify their own lifestyle."  I run into the same thing in other areas all the time. I don't drink, and as soon as people find that out, their first reaction is that they're determined to get me drunk. People tell me I'm cheap all the time, or make justifications like "you only live once", or that they deserve it, if they want to go out for ice cream and I suggest having ice cream at my house instead, or they get this great idea to rent a limo to go to Toronto and have a night on the town and stay in a hotel, and I suggest we just take the train and come home after, or if I see some shoes I like but don't need and therefore decide not to buy, etc. It wears on you constantly, and after a few years I found my lifestyle slipping more toward the 'norm' - man was it ever a relief to find this blog and discover I'm not the only one! I was starting to think I must be crazy. It's really renewed my resolve and helped me to stand up to the naysayers. So remember you're not alone (or crazy) - we're all out here too. :)


zoltani

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2013, 01:35:17 PM »
I would personally suggest just doing it and not talking about it.  Why talk about it with people that do not commute by bike?  Are you looking for tips?  Join the local advocacy group.  Are you looking for pats on the back or general encouragement?  Don't look for it from people that do not ride.

You wouldn't get the joking comments about how you can't do it if you were to just suck it up and DO IT ALREADY!

MountainFlower

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2013, 02:38:07 PM »
Wear it like a badge of honor.   Take strength from it knowing that you have decided to step away from average. 

I used to get the most pitied looks and comments from coworkers because I lived for two extended periods (6 months each) without running water or a bathroom.  Both times while building and both times at 9000 ft elevation in winter.    Frankly, when they made those comments, I pitied them for the fact that they, in their own words, "could never do something like that"  Really?  How pathetic. 

I think some people believe that by doing something different from what they do, you are indirectly telling them they made the wrong choice. Or maybe they are jealous or think you are crazy. It doesn't matter. Just know that it's their issue or hang up, not yours and don't bother trying to change their opinion unless you are feeling sporting that day.

Keep on keeping on!

This is true.  I haven't had television for 20 years.  At first when people would say, "did you see that show...." I would respond, "I don't have a television."  People really took that personally.  I learned to just say, "No, I didn't"   and conversations went much better.   LOL!

As zoltani said, just do it and don't talk about it. 

DocCyane

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2013, 08:29:24 PM »
It wears on you constantly, and after a few years I found my lifestyle slipping more toward the 'norm' - man was it ever a relief to find this blog and discover I'm not the only one! I was starting to think I must be crazy. It's really renewed my resolve and helped me to stand up to the naysayers. So remember you're not alone (or crazy) - we're all out here too. :)

Boy, isn't that the truth. It's the constant grind of advertising. It's your friends and family passing judgment on your older car and sensible shoes. It's brown bagging your lunch and coworkers thinking you're not a team player because you won't eat out with them. It's your boss being surprised that you don't have a smart phone, though he has no intention of paying for it.

If it weren't for "The Mustache People", as my partner calls us, I'd feel like the last person in Los Angeles with a bigger dream than buying the next shiny thing.

destron

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2013, 07:22:32 AM »
This is true.  I haven't had television for 20 years.  At first when people would say, "did you see that show...." I would respond, "I don't have a television."  People really took that personally.  I learned to just say, "No, I didn't"   and conversations went much better.   LOL!

Now that is good advice!

It took me a few years to figure that out as well. If you tell people "I don't watch TV" (I do own a television to watch movies on), they think you are acting holier-than-thou. Just saying, oh, I didn't see it has been much less confrontational.

James

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2013, 07:50:09 AM »
I have a hard time not talking about the differences between myself and my coworkers.  I have been working on that with moderate success, but just yesterday I was telling a coworker I didn't have cable, which really didn't need to be said just because he was talking about the changes he was making to his cable service.  I do think it's a fine line between being a positive influence with our actions and saying too much.  But if you are feeling perceived negativity, then maybe lean more toward keeping things to yourself and finding other outputs for your lifestyle conversations.  I wish I had more friends to fill that gap, but like you are saying, I find a lot of that right here.

Negative visualization works well for dispelling specific concerns like this.  try focusing on the worst a coworker could say or think about your actions.  Imagine the situation of you being belittled and judged for your different lifestyle, and let that sink in.  As you appreciate their lack of insight into your lifestyle, their inability to comprehend the benefits you enjoy now and in the future, you can put their comments and jokes in context.  What they say or think matters very little, but ignoring it won't necessarily make you invincible to what they say.  But visualizing it in advance on your terms and with the right mindset can remove any weight from the actual conversations.

MsSindy

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2013, 07:53:42 AM »
Interesting.... I've never had anyone bust my chops for driving my 12 year old car, bringing my lunch, or not watching the latest TV show.  But then again, I don't go around making a big deal about it or preaching to anyone.  I mind mine own business, when it comes to my lifestyle choices, and I certainly don't discuss money choices with people.... unless they bring it up and seem like-minded, otherwise I just let the comments pass.

When someone does drive with me in my car, they usually remark how clean and well kept it is - I tend to take care of my shit!  I'm always amazed at how crappy people keep their very expensive cars!  Or when I'm eating my healthy from-home lunch, they'll usually say, "wow, you're so healthy, that's great".   I don't know, maybe it's the company I keep or my demeanor, but people don't feel compelled to give me a hard time (and I work in a very corporate status-driven environment).

If you don't like the negativity others give, then don't engage on that topic.  Simple.

Mrs. Redbeard

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2013, 01:48:11 PM »
If you reply, "yep, my legs are just about numb!" they will sound a bit sympathetic and you might think that they are judging you for making such a foolish transportation choice, and perhaps they are, but they are doing it because part of them is thinking, "if Scott is riding his bike to work, why aren't I?  I really need to get in shape, after all, that's my resolution this year." 

Frugalcalan nailed it--other people's negativity has absolutely nothing to do with you and your choices and EVERYTHING to do with feeling that their way of life is somehow being challenged.

The fiance and I started making a lot of changes within the past few months--selling a car/becoming a single car family, changing eating habits...hooray green vegetables!, cutting cable, not using the heater, etc. We definitely felt (and still feel) a lot of negativity and judgement from friends/family/coworkers about our decisions.

Fiance is better at dealing with this than I am...he doesn't really give a shit what anyone thinks about him and his 6 year old jeans with holes in the butt. I, on the other hand, am a little more sensitive to the criticism. After being a defensive brat for about a month, I started replying in "agreement" with any criticism.

Close friend who will never read this forum: "How do you eat kale, not have cable, ride your bike 1 mile to the grocery store, not spend your entire paycheck on shoes? Isn't that so disguising, boring, sweaty, and unfashionable?"
Me: "Yes it is" or "Yup, but I don't mind it"

She usually feels better about her anti-Mustachian ways, and I usually feel like the sassy bitch I am and go about my day. That being said, it took me some getting used to. It's an entire attitude adjustment.

I'm a just so glad to have found this forum and others that can relate. It does help on the days like today when 6 people in the office say "Oh you haven't given up riding your bike yet? I thought you would be done with that by now." It's a process of adjusting my attitude...and it's getting better :) I'm sure it will for you too!

Norman Johnson

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2013, 01:59:28 PM »
^^Hee hee! "...sassy bitch I am..."

I'm going to steal that! :D

CookerS101

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2013, 04:43:19 AM »
As they say, in life there are only two options. You either choose to be happy or miserable. I always choose to be happy and don't allow the pessimism of other people to bother me. As long as I am not stepping on anybody's toes, I'm cool with that.

ruthiegirl

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2013, 05:54:59 AM »
Don't feed the parasprites, overwhelm them with your Optimism. Ignore their "knowing" look by knowing you can and have made the change!


I think "Overwhelm them with optimism" is the best thing I have heard in ages.  This is my approach too and it works for me every time. 

Dicey

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2013, 12:05:31 PM »
Some people are insecure about their lifestyle choices, so they justify them by saying "everybody else does it". Then you come along and challenge their belief...

My advice is to make your own choices and go about your business without comment. If you act like it's no big deal, then they won't either. In fact, they're likely not to notice your efforts at all. If you're getting negative pushback, I'd review your own motives. Are you looking for positive reinforcement from your coworkers/friends/family? Don't go to them looking for positive affirmation. Know in your heart that you are doing the right thing.

kythuen

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2013, 02:41:29 PM »
I get a little of that negativity at home from my bff/room mate.  She understands that I want to get out of debt so I can feel more secure in case of bad times, and start saving/investing for retirement.  But she doesn't understand why I'm making some of the choices I am making.  I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm going through a "phase" and will soon regret the choices I'm making now (chiefly, selling my car).  I just never want to have to be a burden on anyone, that's all - and I never really knew how to get out of the hole I'm in until I started reading here and a few other frugality/ERE forums.  I'm not going to be able to retire "early," but at least at this point I know I'll be able to retire, period.  It's just going to take some sacrifices, and I'm trying to stay open to making them.

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2013, 07:54:19 PM »
Don't feed the parasprites, overwhelm them with your Optimism. Ignore their "knowing" look by knowing you can and have made the change!
Eeeyup.

Southern Stashian

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2013, 06:38:11 AM »
 I tend to lead by example and use the negativity as motivation towards my goals. Setting goals has been the way I have kept all of the naysayers at bay and moved forward while they are left behind in complainypants land.

 For example, I had been promoted to a higher level position with my employer last year and had coworkers talking the usual "it should have been me" and "he didn't deserve it" sort of thing. For about a month it really affected me and I started to hate to have to deal with it.
Well, I used that to motivate me to do a better job with my new position and received an "outstanding" on my year end review along with a generous raise. Now, using that experience as motivation I have set my sights further up the ladder - while the negative coworkers are still in their positions (some of them for 20+ years) and now directing their negativity towards someone else.

 When they realized that I had been doing great at my new position they had no more fuel for their negativity and directed it elsewhere.
What's funny is that I have had four training classes for these same people recently and every one of them have said that they would not want my position as it holds too much responsibility. To me, accepting responsibility and setting goals along the way is what keeps a job challenging.

 What I have also done to thwart the negativity and to get things off of my chest is to start my own blog www.THEFIGUY.com. It helps me vent and clears my head, sort of like my own self therapy. I have been receiving 20 - 40 hits per day so it is gradually coming along. I hope that someone out there can take one thing from it and make a positive change in their lives.

Skyn_Flynt

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2013, 06:58:11 AM »
I'm perfectly willing to tell people that I don't have a TV and gave it away on FreeCycle years ago. It snuffs out future conversations about "Did you see that sports game last night?" - because I didn't, and I won't know what's going on next week either. No point pretending. People seem to use sports as a casual conversation opener, but I will never have a clue.

People at work chuckle about my 13 year old car, but I goad them along a bit, by telling them about repair bills. It makes them feel better to have something newer. I then conclude the discussion along the lines "Yeah it'd be nice to have a new car ... but then I'd have payments for 5 years and I don't want THAT again". (And the heads nod)



JanMN

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2013, 08:59:22 AM »
I don't face a lot of negativity for my mustachian choices, but then again, I live in a community where we see lots of used cars, used clothes and do-it-yourself types.  So that takes some of the pressure off, I'm sure.  I tend to beat people to the punch and make fun of our "chariots" (ie the 20+ year old wood truck etc) and what others see as a red neck approach to living... but try to do it in a way that also communicates that I'm damn fine and happy with the life :-)

projekt

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Re: Dealing with Negativity
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2013, 01:23:53 PM »
Here in the South, I find that people look on cycle commuters with pity. What hardship! Here, people think success is correlated with the 150, 250, 350, etc. on your truck.

If I walk 1/2 mile for any reason other than exercise, people say, "Wow! That's a long walk! You must be tired!"

Back when I used to drink, I imagine that my colleagues thought I had to bicycle commute because I needed to spend my parking money on booze. Now, they just think I'm peculiar.

I find that the easiest way to brush it off is to say that you can't get motivated to go to the gym for an hour each day, but you can cycle for half an hour twice a day, so it works out.