What to do with naysayers?
We have been discussing alternative housing and homesteading with our family and friends for years but when our offer on a property was accepted, our supporters suddenly turned into naysayers. We were not prepared for what would happen when our dreams became reality… to other people. Consequently, we found ourselves overwhelmingly in a bad mood about our decision to homestead and the property we were purchasing when a few days prior we were literally jumping for joy.
The Secret Ending (spoiler alert): A friend just asked me, “if you could do it over, would you buy the same place?” Another asked me, “so you guys still going to keep doing this off-grid homestead thing?”
To both I happily answered “YES!”
I (Charlie) can be moody but when Tom is in a funk it’s rare and therefore extremely apparent. He is the most even keeled unflappable person ever. The effects of sharing our good news with everyone was a resounding of our every micro doubt into a wave of fear and a shattering of our confidence. And to me this became obvious when Tom was upset.
Even our perception that “everyone” was against this was off because of the weight we gave that negative feedback. One supportive friend helped turn our perception around. We shared the feedback with him and he dismissed it reminding us that we have researched and made informed decisions, we have backup plans, etc. And if we didn’t do this we’d always wonder “what if?”
Suddenly we found our courage again. This just built as we talked to our RV neighbors; all of whom were also buying properties, and they dismissed our fears with logic. That went something like this, “what if we don’t have time to get our cistern water catchment system set up before it snows?” This was a fear that a well-meaning friend put in our heads. Our RV friend replied, “snow melts.” Snow for water. That simple and something we had already planned. However, letting all the doubt in our minds put up a zero-visibility cloud and suddenly we were not looking at our lives through our own researched and planned eyes. So here’s what we did to turn back into our homestead-lifestyle-seeking selves:
- Tune out the naysayers!
If you haven’t already, write down your mission and goals to reaffirm your beliefs. Even reread what you have written to yourself. And do so before an anticipated conversation with a naysayer.
Objectively give weight to what you are being told and start with these two questions
- Is this person giving an opinion or information?
- Does the opinion or information have credentials?
i.e. is this person a homesteader or have some specific area of expertise that gives their opinion or information validity?
Don’t be rude to your loved ones but if you cannot tune them out, then change the subject. “So what’s new with you?”
And if it is a matter of someone downright gas lighting you, well, you may want to reconsider all interactions with that person and seek counseling. This is not meant to be sarcastic as gas lighting is very serious and can be psychologically abusive.
Surround yourself with positive happy people. Yes, life can be rough and everyone can have bad times. I am not advocating for turning your back on a friend needing a shoulder to cry on. However, there are those whom the saying applies, “misery loves company.” Depending on your emotional investment this may be detrimental to your well-being. There’s tons of info out there about being a part of such a loved one’s life while keeping a healthy detachment.
We had a blessing in disguise happen. We were told we our property could easily have a phone landline and internet. As it turned out our no-cell-service property took us 8 weeks to acquire a form of communication to the outside world. 6 of those weeks we were residing full time on the property. Once we could talk to loved ones and friends again, the negative chatter began again. HOWEVER, at this point we established ourselves, we were blissfully happy with our decision, and their comments bounced off our off-grid homesteading armor! Not everyone has this opportunity to do a trial run before being subjected to ridicule or well-meaning advice / comments. For us it was great to live our life without hearing negative comments every day.
So, what to do with all that negative chatter about your life?
This was one of the criteria for our relocation strategy. We knew there was no viable support from family and friends as far as being able to have an in-depth conversation about things like composting toilets. It is not only a huge help to share information and bounce ideas off someone living the life but psychologically having a sense of belonging in a community is a great and necessary foundation. We found that moving to the Inland Northwest region gave us that community in talking to everyday people who didn’t grimace and play 20 questions at the sentence, “we’re here looking for property to off grid homestead.”
There is a big difference in someone giving you weird looks and asking you to define an entire lifestyle in a sentence; and those who respond with, “oh that is amazing! Are you going solar?” “It’ll be an awesome way for your children to grow up!”
Community… does this mean you have to dive into all kinds of social activities and be an integral part of the nearest town? No. But if you are that type by all means go for it! We mean find your community. The place you fit in and are comfortable. People to share life with! Yes, there is a wealth of people online and that can help when faced with naysayers. Yet pertaining to the off-grid homestead life and safety, neighbors are extremely important, especially off grid or homestead neighbors. Neighbors are where we intended to start, however during our property search we found a sense of community just in talking to locals and telling them what we were planning! That led us to exactly where we wanted to be!
- Failure is a part of life and can shape success
Failure is okay! Okay before you stop reading, hear me out. If you are diligently and methodically reevaluating yourself then you can recognize small failures, learn valuable lessons, strategize, and save yourself before 15 small failures turn into the colossal -point-of-no-return failure and even those are not the end of the world.
Our society seems to emit a collective thought that failure equals the end of our life. Most people who work at some type of creative processes will tell you that you have to fail to succeed. And no, it’s not the end if you fail, it’s a new beginning, a new opportunity, new input information you didn’t have before that will lead to success.
We have set up monthly and yearly check ins for our goals and finances to help keep us on track and recognize what is working about our strategies and what is not!
- Exit strategy
A big question we get is, “if homesteading doesn’t work, well what on earth will you do then?”
No matter how well-intended or snarky, this is a valid question. And if someone is catching you off guard with this question, then you definitely need an exist strategy. You can use your discretion on who you share that info with but it is nice to have a quick retort to shut down those helpful people who rattle off all the doomsday possibilities of your failure. Here’s our take on exit strategies:
Having an exit strategy does NOT mean failure is inevitable.
Exit strategy is your plan B and maybe even C!
Exit strategy is your safety net
Exit strategy does not mean you must give up. An exit strategy may simply be taking a step back or plan for reformulating your current condition.
For example, even though we want to become self-sufficient and self-employed, if we should supplement with outside income to replenish our finances or in the face of a financial crisis I.e. major medical bills, then we will do so. Ironically, homesteading is our RV Life exit strategy.
Just as you can have small exit strategies, have a worst case scenario exit strategy
Lastly, you do not need a plan B & C for every small facet of your life. At this point you’re overthinking and not living in the present. The present is a present. Cherish it.
Plan together! While we don’t feel this will ever happen, we have pledged to each other (just as we did in our RV life) that if at any point either one of us decides this is not the life for us, then we move on. Not sure what moving on entails as homesteading was our greatest goal and a form of exit strategy in itself. But if it is one thing we have learned, it is that life is unpredictable but full of possibilities.
- Celebrate every small success
As a culture we put a great deal of effort and emotion into failure, what about every day successes? Celebrate the first time your chickens lay an egg or when you learn a new skill. It does not have to be an en
tire skill set but just one skill of that skill set. Step back and say, “Wow, look what I did!”
Rejoice again and again. Every time my ginger bug gets bubbly I get super excited! It seems like such a miraculous thing. A colony of bacterial yeast in a jar just bubbling away.
Reaffirming happiness daily and committing to having gratitude by making that conscious effort has proven to help with depression and lead to a more fulfilled life. Check out one of my favorite non-profits Project Happiness for more info and daily inspirations.
If you are busy being happy and grateful for your lifestyle not only will the naysayers be less likely to tackle you (except those gas lighters who try to keep everyone around them down) but negative comments are less likely to bother you.
To us, homesteading is about survival but beyond the physical challenges there are mental ones not only inherent to such a way of life but to any lifestyle that goes against the societal grain. Therefore, it is critical that naysayers without an informed opinion or advice, need to be kept in line or chucked out of the “supporters queue” all together.
Stay strong and convicted and happy!