Facing Strong Opinions About Your Unconventional Path


Doctor Neha: Welcome to TalkRx with Doctor Neha. So glad you’re joining us. We’re filming in Bali. This is Jess, and I’m so glad she’s back. She had a few more communication questions, so she was willing to come back and join us.

Jess: Thank you. Good to be back with you.

Doctor Neha: So tell me what’s on your mind.

Jess: I’ve been thinking about a question that’s come up for me: how do you communicate with your friends, your family, your loved ones, when you decide to choose an unconventional path? When you don’t follow the “shoulds” and the “have tos” of what people think you should be doing, should be studying or how should be showing up in the world. When you decide that you want to do something different and follow a different path, how do you let them know in a loving way that this is what works for you and what you’re passionate about?

Doctor Neha: This is a common one, because it happens not just once in our lives. I’ve found it happens almost every decade for me. It’s like I come up with something new each decade. Also what I’m hearing from you is that, first of all, you’ve taken an unconventional path. What is that? Tell me a little bit about that.

Jess: After studying marketing and finance and working in the corporate world for a little bit, I decided it wasn’t for me. I decided I wanted to travel the world, and I wanted to experience different things. So I’ve been traveling around the world studying, exploring, cooking on yachts, and studying nutrition for the past eight years.

Doctor Neha: And does that fill your soul?

Jess: It really does.

Doctor Neha: Tell me some of the stories and lines that you hear running through your head from things that people have said.

Jess: “You should get a real job.”

Doctor Neha: I think, with that one, they’re just jealous. Working on yachts is a good [job].

Jess: “Create a stable life. Have something that’s grounding. Where is your base? Where do you live? Get married. Have kids.” All of those kind of things. “Start doing something that’s real!”

Doctor Neha: Oh, interesting.

Jess: They have a lot of judgment that I’m a bit of a nomad, a bit of a gypsy.

Doctor Neha: Okay, so this is important because the first thing is you don’t have a home. Where do you live?

Jess: On a yacht right now.

Doctor Neha: Right, so from their perspective, they see you don’t have a home, you’re not married, and you don’t have kids. Plus, where’s your 401(k)?

Jess: Exactly.

Doctor Neha: Where’s the stability, right? Often the questions come from our parents and our family who wish well for us. They’re some of the only people who care enough about those things for us that they would say their opinions of what they think is right for us. The interesting piece is that when people judge you or give their opinions to you, notice that what people say to you may actually be more about them and their concerns than it actually has anything to do with you. So, for example, the person who said, “Where do you live, anyway?” home is very important for that person. The person who said, “Get a real job,” on some level has a definition of what a real job is; a real job might mean many things to them, such as “I care to fit in and belong with society” or other people’s opinions really mattered to that person. So what the person is saying often tells you more about them than it tells you about you. Is that making sense?

Jess: Yeah, completely.

Doctor Neha: You’ll notice certain angles will come from certain people repeatedly—because they’re getting uncomfortable in their body in the face of you showing up without the very thing they value. It’s an interesting piece to look at. The first thin is to let go of that. What I do is allow what people say to come in and then put it through a filter. I think of it as my values filter test. For example, you say something to me like, “Neha, where’s your home?” or “How come you don’t have a home? Like, that’s not okay.” I already know what my highest values are: love, integrity, and service. Right now, I don’t actually have a home. I’ve been floating, traveling, having all new experiences, just like Bali. So I’m resonating with what you’re saying, because in the beginning I was the one judging myself for that.

Jess: Me, too.

Doctor Neha: So the other piece you want to pay attention to are the comments people say that stick. You know how when you boil spaghetti (I know as a chef this isn’t very politically correct)…. when I was younger, I used to throw it on the wall. When it sticks, it was done.

Jess: Yeah.

Doctor Neha: The only comments that actually stick to you, resonate with you, are some area that you still need to resolve. Make sense?

Jess: Yes.

Doctor Neha: So let me go back to that filter test. I know my highest values are love, integrity, and service. If you say, “Neha, well how come you don’t have a home? You really need a home,” then I let my values come up against that. I say to myself, “Huh. Does not having a home align with love, integrity, and service?” It does—unless I had “home” as one of the ways I defined my value of love. So it passes my values filter.

Then I ask myself, “Is this, getting a home right now, something that gives me energy and excites me, or is it something that drains me of energy?” If it drains me of energy, then I say, “Thank you so much for bringing this concern up for me. It’s not the right move for me right now.” At the same time, if a concern or judgment from someone’s input and actually aligns with my values and it inspires and energizes me, why not? That’s really how you make the best decisions.

I call it the two-step decision-making tool. The important piece to know is that people who have judgments toward you when you lead an unconventional life believe they’re doing it in your best interest. They love you.

Jess: Completely.

Doctor Neha: Some people wouldn’t care enough to talk to you or mention it. So, they do that brave thing where they muster up the courage to say it. Our job then is to receive it, thank them, and then remember what is true for us. If I can listen to the sound or the voice of my own heart slightly louder than I can hear the voices of others, I’ll be able to navigate my course. Does that make sense?

Jess: Absolutely.

Doctor Neha: All right. What were some of your takeaways?

Jess: To tune into me—that was quite a big thing, to tune into what’s good for me. And that what other people are saying is usually a projection of their own insecurities or their outlooks on life…

Doctor Neha: And what they value.

Jess: Yes, their values. That filter test is really going to work for me. It’s going to be something I take with me, because I don’t want all that “spaghetti” to stick to me.

Doctor Neha: For any of you concerned because your family, your friends, or random people you don’t know make comments and judgments—and you feel hurt by that or don’t know what to do with that information—make sure you know that judgments may say more about them than about you. It works the other way, too. When someone says to you, “You are kind. You are loving. You are generous,” it tells you that they are kind, they are loving, and they are generous. Those are some of their values. So it works on both ends of the spectrum.

Then your job is to trust yourself and ask, “How does this feel in my body? Does this give me energy? Does it align with what I value?” If so, why not try it? If not, I’d say, “Thank you for your honesty and your input. I’ll take that into consideration,” or “I’ll think about that.”

I hope this was helpful. Thanks again, Jess, for coming.

Jess: Thanks for having me.

Doctor Neha: Until next time, please write your comments on the blog. If you have any other questions, or if you have a different question that you would like to ask, drop me a tweet at #AskDoctorNeha.

Awareness Prescription

The Two-Step Decision Making Tool

  1. Does this request, opportunity or idea support your highest values?

  2. Does this opportunity give you energy (inspiration)? Or does it drain you of energy (obligation)?

Here’s your answer:

Say Yes — if aligns with your values and inspires you (gives you energy).
Say No — if doesn’t align with your values (even if you want to do it).
Say Maybe So — if it aligns with your values and it feels like an obligation (meaning it drains you of energy). Pay close attention to how many decisions fall in this category!


Be true to you,


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