We all have dragons. I have one with four little paws and the cutest little smile, named DaVinchi, although I would NEVER seek to slay him. In fact, there’s a whole other argument there for loving your dragons…but I digress…

Yes, there are little gremlins and monsters in our heads, telling us that we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, or whatever enough (another project to overcome as well). But we also have the external fire-breathing dragons, the topic of this article; the nay-sayers, the people on the outside who tell us awful things, either intentionally or not, to derail us, dissuade us, and kick us off our dreams. I find that some of the worst dragons are those who claim to want what is best for us, but are clearly most after their own agendas or simply have a very jaded version of what they think we should have or who they think we should be.

So, what do you do with those people? What if they are family? How do we eloquently handle our external dragons and still hold true to ourselves? Well, here are a few ideas and strategies, with the underlying notion of taking the high road. Because THAT is where you are – a level (or two or three) above anyone who might try to tear you down. With these strategies in hand, all I’ve got to say is, unfortunate dragons, good luck!

1) Help them (belay)

There is something to be said for the old adage “kill them with kindness.” Because it actually works. Not with everyone, so be careful to not get sucked into that hole. In fact, I have developed an entire separate strategy in dealing with a certain kind of dragon that I call Vacuum-Hole people. But, ordinarily, helping your dragons elevates you and gives them nothing else to say.

2) Make their doubting look foolish

This step involves doing the thing that they are doubting anyway and, hopefully, excelling. But even if you do not enjoy worldwide success right away, the fact that you are doing what you are doing – in the face of such doubt – makes them look foolish on their own for doubting you.

3) Win them over/woo them (caution!)

One way to slay is to win your dragons over. But be careful here. Remember that whatever you are doing is not for them, nor is it to impress them. Do what you are doing for you. If they are open to it, win them over with your passion for your project or endeavor. Just don’t get too caught up in the need for their approval. Many dragons are simply doubters because they do not understand what you are doing or why.

4) Find their itchy spot

Don’t take too much time for this one either. But if you can, find your dragons’ weakness. Not in a mean sort of way, but in a way that gives you access to their amenability to what you are doing. For example, find whatever it is in your project or endeavor that might be relatable to them. In my case, my sisters are all about their kids. So, if I can find parts of my projects that involve kids, I am then finding their itchy spot.

5) Take them for a walk (sashay)

See if they will also walk in your shoes. SHOW them that what you do is important and what you are hoping to achieve. They still may naysay, even after – and that is on them if they do – but, by taking them for a walk, it’s a win-win. You get to walk through whatever you are doing, too, thus reaffirming your own passion for it.

6) Talk to another animal

This might seem a bit sidelong, but, in some cases, there’s no better way to slay your dragons than to seek advice, support, and opinions from other people. Of course, make sure it is people that you trust or that you can handle advice from; but the idea here is to also show your dragons that you do not need them. You might be surprised at their reaction. They may come around for you. Jealousy does wonders. Just don’t get too caught up in the negative side of this tactic. The point here is not to produce jealousy, but to release you from the dragon’s sway.

7) Sky-write your intentions (can’t erase)

When you take life chances, let’s just say it – it is scary as hell, especially when you don’t have the backing of everyone you would hope would be there for you. But in skywriting your intentions, you tell the world, including your dragons, and, more importantly, you tell yourself that your desires, pursuits, and chosen path are REAL. You slay the dragons on the outside and, then, give the ones on the inside something to readily discuss.

8) Be the better/bigger monster

Taking the high road is almost always a good way to go (almost), especially involving your dragons. Come into the realization that you are the bigger and better monster. It will get you farther. So, flex your muscles, and just fly above, rendering their attacks and doubts harmless underneath. This tactic is not an easy one. It may involve stepping outside of knee-jerk reactions and hurt, resentment, and pain. But, in the long run, those small dragons mean nothing. Let them be nothing far below.

9) Feed them veggies (and be meat)

I use this tactic from time to time. Just don’t get caught up and lose who you are, in it. What it involves is giving your dragons what they want through lip service or silence (like at family dinners, passing at work, etc.) just to appease, getting them off your back, but then knowing your actual truth. Don’t lie or give in to their naysaying; just avoid by changing the subject or skirting around your truth since they don’t deserve to know it anyway. The trick here is to not sell yourself out for yourself. So, don’t. Just feed them veggies, instead of your meat.

10) Learn how to fly and breathe fire

The biggest thing that you can do to slay your dragons is to, in spite of their grumbling, naysaying, and digging, grow your wings and fly. BECOME the dragon yourself and then leave them all below, in the dust, as you light up your way with your bright and luminous fire.