What’s a Dream Crusher?

Any person in your past who has ever tried to derail your dreams. As kids, we know. We know what we like and what we don’t like. And very often we even know what we want to be when we grow up, but somewhere along the way we encounter a Dream Crusher. Sometimes more than one. And if a Crusher can grab a hold of us before our little impressionable minds are formed and set, often times we end up lost and hopeless or worse… following their dreams instead of our own.

Dream Crushers are not always malicious, so they can be difficult to spot. Dream Crushers might not even be all that obvious. Often, dreams are snuffed in subtle ways, by a perpetrator with benevolent and even loving intentions. But whether the Crusher killed our dreams intentionally or unintentionally, the result is still the same. We absorb their feelings as our own truth and years later, have the dirty work of untangling the mess.

There are two types of Dream Crushers: Dream Stealers and Dream Pushers.

Dream Stealers

These individuals are the ones who attempt to poison our thinking by injecting and projecting their own insecurities and anger on to us. We hear things like:

You’re no good.

You’re stupid for even trying.

That will get you nowhere.

Get your head out of the clouds.

Who do you think you are?

You need to accept the real world.

It’s statements like these and countless others that make us question our abilities which over time, erodes our self-confidence. I’m not talking about the constructive criticism we might get, like when my father suggested I not become an opera singer after hearing me belt out Whitney Houston from the safety of my bathroom. That’s understandable. That’s guidance and helps us from becoming delusional. I’m talking about parents, teachers, friends and elders whose words affect us in such a way, that our dreams are poisoned and eventually die.

Dream Pushers

These are the stage moms. The pushy parents who insist their child be a doctor. Or lawyer. Or other “respectable” profession. The root of this is often a disgruntled adult whose dream also fell victim to a Crusher and whose retribution is to fulfill themselves through their child. The problem is the dream of the parent and the dream of the child rarely coincide.

Sometimes it’s a subtle hint and sometimes it’s as overt as “I will not pay for college unless you major in business.” But regardless, these dream pushers are alive and well.

As Penelope Trunk recently said,

Most of our career problems have, on some level, a boundary component. For example, many people in their 20s know what they’d like to do but they cannot separate the dreams of their parents from their own, and so they make bad choices for themselves that they spend a decade undoing.

Few things bother me more than a Dream Crusher who manages to ruin, kill or steal a person’s future, so here are a few suggestions to help unearth some of our dreams that may be lost and forgotten.

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

This test is dead on and helped me clearly define what career I was best suited for. I felt reassured to find that 10 out of 12 of my “possible career paths” as an ENFP were ones I was either pursuing or had in the past. I am typed as The Inspirer, which is the basis of this entire blog. It’s my mission and purpose in life and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Inspire, encourage, and help others. But it took taking this test to help clear out a lot of the “shoulds” and “coulds” from my mind and focus on my true calling.

Click here for the test.

I also suggest this website for a more elaborate description of your type:

Outside Counsel

It’s always good to consult with those close to us whose judgement we trust. We can seek out references. There are books like Strength Finder and Do What You Are that use simple tests to hone in on what we may best be suited for.

I think what’s important here is not that we get it right, but that we take action. And let’s not wait for the Inspiration Fairy to one day plunk us on the head with the “perfect” job for us or our “true” calling. The discovery is in the doing. An archeologist doesn’t sit at home and think about finding hidden treasure. He gets to work. He may spend years digging around in the dirt before he finds what he’s looking for. Before we can enjoy the fruit of our labors we must be willing to dig through the dirt. So get on in there. A little dirt won’t hurt ya.

So what are your thoughts about Dream Crushers? Have you ever encountered a Dream Crusher? What did you do? What are some tactics you use? Can you think of another type to add to the list? Did the Myers Briggs test help you define your goals more easily? Are there books or references you’d like to add?

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