…is that it is never easy. I have a client who came to me about six months ago, overweight and ready to take control of her life and health. Since committing to herself, she has put in hours of work, stayed focused, determined and (most importantly) positive in her quest to lose weight and lead a healthy, active life. Her progress is visible and impressive, so when a “friend” suggested they go shopping together once she “lost some more weight,” instead of celebrating the progress she had already made, my client was a little hurt and confused.
Sadly, this is not uncommon. Wes and I both have both heard clients express how one of the most difficult parts of making life changes is dealing with friends and family who, for whatever reason, aren’t supportive. I dealt with it firsthand several years ago when I quit drinking. I had to avoid a few people, and even change the way I drove home from work so as not to be tempted by my favorite happy hour spot. My drinking buddies didn’t get it, and I got a lot of, “oh come on, one won’t hurt,” before they finally accepted that this was s lifestyle change—not simply an experiment in sobriety.
A similar situation occurred when I started training for my first half marathon. An inexperienced endurance runner, I accidentally lost a little weight as my body adjusted to the new demands I was placing on it. Rather than cheer my commitment to my goal however, I had “friends” who focused on the temporary weight loss, telling me to “eat a cheeseburger,” and accusing me of having exercise and eating disorders---OUCH!
Change is never easy—and neither is growth---that’s why the term “growing pains.” And when the change you are making is positive and the people closest to you don’t support it, you may be tempted to give up. I know I was—both times. But don’t! This is your journey and yours alone—it is not your job to make the people around you understand it—or support it.
Typically, snarky comments, or backhanded compliments are the result of what’s going on inside the other person. Perhaps they are jealous of your success, maybe they wish they could do what you are doing, or maybe they simply miss you because you no longer hit the bar or the fast food joints with them. Whatever the reasons—you have to decide if these are people that add value to your life or if they are detrimental to your progress.
Your true friends will not have to be begged to be supportive or to celebrate your successes. They will not put you down or belittle you—instead they will be your biggest cheerleaders, sharing every accomplishment with pride. And if they don’t, then you might need to reevaluate the size of the role they are playing in your life.
Sometimes walking away from naysayers isn’t as easy as it sounds—especially if they are family or lifelong friends. Here are a few tips for navigating or diffusing potentially hurtful situations while retaining those relationships.