How to overcome negative feedback when discussing "PeakProsperity"?

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flexmens's picture
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How to overcome negative feedback when discussing "PeakProsperity"?

Hi all,

I am new in this forum, but not new to the topics that are discussed here. Problem I face in the "real world" is that people do not like to hear about these topics, including my wife. I am tracking these topics since 2007, and there were moments in 2008-2009 (for instance peak-oil was discussed heavily then) that my wife said "stop with these negative documentaries and books". She is a bright and intelligent lady but she does not want to look too much in the future, she says "we only have NOW and we should make the best of it, you cannot predict future and I cannot live with all these negative views". And she is not alone in this, actually the majority of people do not want to hear this (when I try to discuss), and even if they understand, then they think "we trust on human capability to come with solutions", so they do not want to bother with it. To give a recent example: "a friend of mine in Dubai bought with her hard-earned money, the latest and greatest SUV, and I told her that this is a consumer mentality and she could have done better with her money, and she was heart-broken, she told me that I was negative while she worked hard to reach this moment of joy". Anyway .... So it seems, it has to become much worse, for people willing to face it and change.

I have become now more careful discussing these topics, only sometimes and trying to be really positive about it ... but partially I have given up, people just want some small happiness everyday, and are not interested in the bigger topics that are controlling them...

What is your experience and what do you do in these circumstances?

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
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Joined: Feb 28 2013
Posts: 324
Focus on what you can do

Hi flexmens,

Welcome to the forum.  I think most of us are here because this is one of the few places where people can intelligently gather to discuss what is really going on in the world.  Many (if not all) of us have had the same challenge with family and friends.  I have found in my own life that it is better to focus on getting my own affairs in order.  When I do that other people take notice of what I am doing and ask about it ("why do you have so many chickens?"  "Don't you miss the city?" "You aren't in a 401k??").  By virtue of them approaching me they are more open to the ideas I have to share.  I can be a little scatter-brained trying to explain it, so if they are open to it I refer them to the crash course.  The new accelerated crash course is a great tool.  In fact, for the first time since I learned about peak oil in 2011, I have a friend coming over tonight who watched the ACC who wants to learn more. 

The issue of your wife is a tricky one.  My wife gets it, but hasn't taken the leap to taking action and she easily forgets how serious the coming changes will be because she doesn't see things changing in our world.  We have made a lot of progress towards resilience, but she mostly counts on me to drive the ship and like your wife she doesn't want to hear about negative news.  It's an interesting dichotomy since she is the most important person in my life and my reason for working as hard as I am to insulate us from the risks of our system.  It took us some time and was initially difficult on our marriage, but we have found a nice balance.  If you're having trouble with it, Kathy McMahon of Peak Oil Blues is a psychologist who graciously dedicates a lot of time to helping people cope with the magnitude of the changes that are coming and the impacts that being aware has on our relationships.  She helped me tremendously early on in my journey (which reminds me, I should reach out to her with a thank you).


Yoxa's picture
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Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 306
Avoid being too negative yourself

If you're getting negative feedback, make sure that you're not dishing out excessive negatives to start with.

It seldom accomplishes much that's useful to reproach someone for poor decisions they've already made.

It would have been both better manners and better psychology to hold your nose and say something congratulatory to the friend with the new SUV, and -only then- segue to discussions about "future proofing" and what might be good goals to set next.

If you make someone feel as though you think they're an idiot, it will be A LOT harder to have constructive conversations with them about future actions and  goals.

On one level everything you said about the SUV was correct, but sometimes correctness needs to take a back seat to effectiveness.


waimak1's picture
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Joined: Jul 15 2014
Posts: 2
I agree with all the comments

I agree with all the comments above. My wife politely listens (I don't raise too many issues these days), doesn't really engage, but she is supportive. She doesn't help prepare as such, but she does let me work part-time while she works fulltime so I can pursue my own preparations. In her mind she is sacrificing consumption to help me pursue my passions. To save our marriage this is enough for now. 

And as for friends. We are so far away from each other. I have reached the point where I just get my own house in order and put my actions in a context that others do get. I bought some rural land as "somewhere to get away for the weekend". My chickens are because "I don't support industrial egg and chicken production". Solar is "the price of electricity is only going up". Same for water. My quaint compulsion for gardening is "the chemicals on supermarket vegetables..." etc. All true in themselves. No point in going into too much detail as people often just get angry when they are told the world does not work as they've always believed. 

Cognitive dissonance is a powerful psychological experience and when people hear something that contradicts their world view (i.e. social training and education) it can be extremely difficult to unwind all those connections. 

If anyone shows signs of awakening and question so-called mainstream thinking I try to ease them in with a discussion of (for example) peak oil only. The actual topic depends on what they have questioned. How they respond to that will impact whether I raise other issues.

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 28 2013
Posts: 324
re Waimak

Agree competently with your strategy.

jgritter's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2011
Posts: 273
I do too

I agree.  Try to keep it up beat, don't push, certainly don't push if the relationship is important to you, be prepared to not be understood.  It seems to be a numbers game and the majority don't get it.  Have confidence in yourself, the data and the math.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

John G.


flexmens's picture
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Joined: Jul 15 2014
Posts: 9
Fair enough

Thanks for the comments, and I agree, some "tact" is needed in conversations, and I can have a lot of patience and tact in conversations if I feel good, but sometimes (you have those moments), you lose the patience and say what you think in a more direct way. For sure, I regret most of the times if it comes across "negative", and I always correct it (this honesty and openness is respected). I am sure that most of you feel that impatience now and then, especially if we do not have much time as human beings to transform. The bigger issue is that the majority does not care, they continue "as-is" and I do not blame them, it is wired in our DNA to enjoy every day of life and do not worry about issues that you cannot comprehend.


Sterling Cornaby's picture
Sterling Cornaby
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Joined: Sep 5 2012
Posts: 152
Great Converstation

I am still figuring out how to communicate this to others myself.  I agree with all the advice given; my thoughts are really only restating what has already been said in my voice.

My two thoughts

One thing I have stopped doing is "forcing" the issues --especially if I have not had time to settle into my own thoughts.  Upon first learning something hard about the 'the world' I often got angry and lashed out by upping tempo in conversations; this is very easy to do.  I believe this is all part of the 'stages of grief'-- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance...  Now I am only willing to openly discuss with others what I have come to accept (If they are in denial).   I don't talk to folks in denial about what I am angry about, it does not work.  One nice thing about PP is that I can make comments about things I am angry about or depressed about and there is much more support available.  There are many more here on the acceptance side, so it works.  


Also, when I do talk to people I make sure to leave them a way out.  This is my form of 'tact'. For example, I might say something like "I believe such and such, therefore I have started doing or thinking such and such.  I don't expect you to believe this yourself but understand I am acting/believing this way because of my present values, I don't expect you to conform or believe in to my values."  They have a way out; they do not have to accept my present values.  This can help others relax a bit and not feel like a challenge of wills.  Just yesterday had a conversation with a man that manages the 401k plan at the company I work at; I only contribute 1% he's quite astounded (I should go to zero; I haven't quite got there yet).  I simply explained to him I understand very well the incentive of corporate matching that I am disregarding, and that I value investing in hard assets and dispelling debt more then I value paper promises, which I presently believe are extremely over valued.  I gave him the out of "my values".  I could see the "I believe you are wrong" look in this eyes, but since he didn't ask any probing questions that was that.  

I will add that I open up about what "I believe or value" quite a bit.  It is not uncommon for others listening to ask a few more questions, which I respond truthfully (keeping paths open for them to get out).  I do try to stop as soon as they stop asking probing questions.  I am not always successful at stopping at the right point--its hard to stop since I am passionate about these things, as I am sure others here can relate.  So I do believe some things can get through to people this way.  

I am quite sure with the next looming financial crash more people will become aware, and more fruitful conversations will become more common.  (Looking for a job in 2008 shook me enough to come to know about this stuff in 2010, and come to terms with it in 2012).   

Thanks for reading



DisappearingCulture's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 21 2014
Posts: 38

Excellent post; good job.

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