Ways to Respond to Discouraging Comments

Many of those who dish out discouraging comments do so because they have low self-esteem. As you can imagine, people who seem to be doing better than they are make them uncomfortable.
Ways to Respond to Discouraging Comments
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

The first thing you must do before you respond to discouraging comments is to count to ten. Remember that a person’s opinion about you can’t hurt you unless you actually believe it’s true. You’re in charge of the power you give to words. Nevertheless, it isn’t easy to be entirely impervious to other people’s comments, right?

Some people wish you well, only not as well as they wish for themselves. Therefore, they can suddenly display a disconcerting attitude or behavior that may dampen your spirits, stifle your illusions, and shackle your every dream. The most complex part of it all is that, on average, these comments come from those who are closest to you.

Has it ever happened to you that one of your “best” friends tells you that you’re wasting your time with your study plan? That the best thing to do is stop studying and focus on something more feasible? Perhaps it was one of your parents who told you that your significant other doesn’t deserve you and that you could do “better”.

The truth is that many people can hurt you, knowingly or unknowingly, and this is something you must learn to deal with.

A woman hearing disparaging comments.

Keys to responding to discouraging comments

The person who seeks to discourage you is actually hiding a specific personality pattern. In fact, no one with adequate psychological maturity, empathy, and good social skills seeks, under any circumstances, to undermine anybody else’s mood. They may give their constructive (and respectful) opinion but rarely will they seek to dampen the motivation and hopes of another.

In fact, you’ll never try to dampen the spirits of someone you respect. Furthermore, specialists such as Dr. Leonidas Hatzithoma of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece revealed in a study that humiliation is the purpose of this kind of dynamic. Therefore, it’s important to understand what’s behind that figure before responding to someone who’s dishing out disparaging comments.

In general, these people seek to impose their opinion and prove their superiority by trying to undermine your wishes. Why? Well, what they’re basically trying to do is hinder your progress and happiness. They discourage and disparage in order to bring you down to their level so that you’re happy, but not more than them.

So what to do about discouraging comments?

The intention behind discouraging comments is to despise your dreams, so ignore them

“That trip isn’t worth it, you might want to find another destination” “Your hobby is useless, focus on something more practical.” “Why are you going to adopt another pet? They only give you problems and are bothersome.” “Don’t get your hopes up with that person, as they’ll surely prove disappointing.”

There are thousands of examples of the codes and expressions used by people skilled in the art of disparaging others. However, there’s something you must consider: people try to belittle and discourage you because they’re jealous of what you do, what you like, and what defines you. There’s nothing constructive or useful in anyone whose purpose is to frighten you.

You have every right to make your own way and also to make your own mistakes. Therefore, although you should heed the advice of others, the ultimate decision will always be yours. Therefore, anyone who tries to dampen your spirits and talk you out of advancing and developing in the journey of life doesn’t deserve your attention.

Thus, don’t value words that aren’t useful to you.

A frustrated woman.

Why boycott someone’s illusions? Get them to reveal their real intentions

In order to respond to someone who’s trying to discourage you, have a few questions prepared ahead of time. This is because it isn’t always easy to get away from those who insist on dampening your spirits.

Many people want to impose their ideas on you, weaken you with their depressing comments, and undermine any hint of illusion and motivation.

Wouldn’t you love to be completely immune to such practices? This isn’t always possible. These situations require action, but you must remain calm and sharpen your wits. Questions like these may be useful to you:

  • “I respect your opinion and I’ll keep it in mind. However, I’d like you to clearly state why you’re being disparaging and trying to discourage me.”
  • “I hear you but you must understand that your words aren’t helping me and actually have a negative effect on me. I ask you to be mindful of the way you talk about my wishes.”

Responding to discouraging comments: actions speak louder than words

There’s frustration behind those who yearn to dampen your shine and your drive to excel and succeed in life. These people don’t understand respect and lack self-esteem. In fact, many of them expect others to go down to the same level of inferiority, emptiness, and unhappiness.

As you can imagine, the best way to respond to someone who’s trying to discourage you is to give them a hint of your worth. Actions speak louder than words for the most part. Thus, there’s nothing as comforting as pursuing your dreams exactly as you wish and without letting anyone impose their imaginary limitations.

There are times in which doing just the opposite to what others recommend is the best option. Don’t empower dark emotional vampires when you want to find the light.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Hatzithomas, L., Voutsa, M. C., Boutsouki, C., & Zotos, Y. (2021). A superiority–inferiority hypothesis on disparagement humor: The role of disposition toward ridicule. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. doi: 10.1002/cb.1931

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.