Have you ever had someone say something horrible about your goal, project, or idea? Where their words hit you like a punch in the gut and left you thinking, “How could someone be that mean?” I have. Many times. It continues to happen to this day.  

When you’re blazing new trails and making change—expect a steady stream of criticism, judgment, and even ridicule. It can come from your own mind, your loved ones, friends, mentors, colleagues, total strangers, and rando ass-biscuits on the internet. It’s important to realize that (A) this is normal, (B) you’re more than capable of handling it, and (C) some- times a put-down can be the best fuel to fire you up.

Let me tell you about an interesting encounter I had at a big business conference. My flagship program, B-School, was a few months away everything is figureoutable from launching for the very first time. I was bright-eyed and excited about meeting new people and learning new ideas. My conference badge was hanging around my neck. I held tight to my big plastic binder. I was committed to finding promotional partners and doing everything in my power to get the word out about my new course.

On the first day of the event, I was in the hotel heading up to the main ballroom on an escalator when this guy—also an attendee at that conference—introduced himself and asked about my business. I was thrilled to share. I told him about my new program and its mission to give creatives and small-business owners the skills they needed to market and sell with integrity online. I said that business education could be enjoyable, heart-centered, and even fun, while still generating massive results.

He laughed and said, “Really? Is that a real business? You actually make money doing that? C’mon now. This is a hobby, isn’t it? Tell the truth. You’ve got a rich boyfriend or husband who pays your bills.”

For a few long seconds, I was speechless. Was this dickwad serious?

Was I caught in some nightmarish time-machine? Because last I checked, it was 2009 not 1909. My blood boiled. It took restraint to keep from grabbing him by the collar and throwing him off that damn escalator.

While it stung in the moment, the truth is I’m grateful for that interaction. I thank him for not believing in me or my idea. Why? Because his words fueled me to make B-School an even bigger success. His blatant ignorance reaffirmed how important my mission was to help business owners (especially women) control their financial destinies. I hustled even harder at that conference. I was already committed but, after that exchange, absolutely nothing was going to stop me.

When people shit on your dreams, become an alchemist who turns negativity into productive gold. Bullshit makes good fertilizer. Fuck- you fuel, if you will. Yes, I’m aware that wanting to prove people wrong isn’t a healthy source of long-term motivation. But in the moment, we work with what we’ve got. Refusing to be refused means taking a stand for yourself and protecting your dreams.

To be clear, this isn’t about being so sensitive that you don’t seek the critical input needed to learn, grow, and improve. There’s a difference between getting defensive and getting determined. This is about maturity, discernment, and most crucially, considering your source.

Excerpted from Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Marie Forleo, 2020.