When we decide to make changes in our lives - to become healthier and happier by starting new life habits - we often assume that the people closest to us will be behind us 100%, rooting for us all the way. It can be quite a shock to realize that friends, family, and coworkers may be resistant to those changes - even if those changes will obviously be good for us. What is going on? Don't these people care about us?
The reality is that many people fear change - even if it is positive change. There are many different reasons for this fear, some rational, some irrational. People may be afraid that if you change some of your lifestyle and habits, that their relationship with you will be changed. A spouse might fear that you won't care for them the same way; a coworker may fear that you will out-compete them at work. A friend might be afraid that you will no longer share common interests.
Whatever their reasons, you must keep in mind that YOU are making changes to have the HEALTHIEST, HAPPIEST, most COMPLETE LIFE possible. How can that be a threat to anyone who truly cares for you? Reassure those close to you that you are making healthy changes, and that these changes are recommended by your doctor. They are welcome to join you in making healthier changes to their lives as well, but that decision is entirely up to them; what you are doing is in no way a judgment or criticism of their behavior. We are all adults in a free country; we alone can decide how to live our lives. Don't let the problems of other people get in the way of your quest for a better life. Watch out for people who may be negative, jealous, insecure, possessive, ignorant, or controlling - don't let THEIR problems become YOUR problem.
Some people may be completely unaware that their behavior is sabotaging you; other times, we can't be sure. The important thing is for you to recognize when it is happening, and learn how to handle sabotage effectively. Here are some examples of sabotage, and ideas how to counter them:
- A friend/coworker says "you don't need to lose weight." Answer: "Oh, thank you. I'm not really on a diet, I'm just trying to eat in a healthier way, and get more exercise."
- A family member says "You're the one on a diet; why does the rest of the house have to suffer?" Answer: "Healthy eating is good for everyone in the house; how is that suffering? I plan to fill the house with plenty of healthy, tasty food. If you want to continue to eat junk food, lets keep it in a separate cabinet so I'm not tempted by the sight of it."
- A coworker says "I made these brownies especially for you, you can just have a few, since I know you're on a diet." Answer: "Thanks for thinking of me. I DO love your brownies, so much in fact that I can't stop at just a few, so I'm going to have to pass. Let's pack these up for the kids/my mom/the sweet old man down the street. They're just so good!"
- A family member says "it's selfish for you to take time exercising/going to the gym. You don't spend enough time with me or the family." Answer: "If I don't take care of myself, how can I take care of you or the family? Would you like to exercise with me? We all could get in shape!"
- A friend says "You were so good on your diet all week, you deserve a treat. Let's go out and celebrate with ice cream!" Answer: "Thanks for noticing, but I'm afraid a hot fudge sundae would be the beginning of the end! Let's go out to a movie/go shopping/see a show instead."