All too often I receive messages from followers about people in their life who are unsupportive and negative about their newfound, healthy habits. It may be anyone from their boyfriend/girlfriend to their parents to their friends, or even their co-workers. The good news is, there are ways to help these people see how positive your new lifestyle really is! First and foremost, make an effort to understand where they are coming from… Once you have pinpointed the reason for their remarks, it makes it easier to find a way to approach them. The reasons behind negative remarks about a lifestyle change typically stem from one of the following: concern, jealousy or misunderstanding.
Is It a Place of Concern?
Keep in mind, change can be a very scary thing to some people. Many individuals appreciate consistency and continuity in their lives and the behavior of others around them. It’s comforting! When that continuity is broken and that consistency becomes disrupted, people are left unsure and wary. These feelings can be exacerbated if they think that someone they care about may be doing something harmful or something they deem “extreme”.
How to Deal – If their remarks stem from a place of concern, take some time to patiently explain to them the positive benefits of your new lifestyle. If they are able to see all the GOOD things your new habits are doing for your health and your emotional wellbeing, they may back off because they will see that there is no need to worry. For example: “Eating these foods and exercising the way I do gives me so much energy! I feel refreshed, happy and confident. I love the way eating well and working out makes me feel.”
Is It a Place of Jealousy?
Jealousy can be a very ugly emotion. It can bring up a lot of negativity and toxins in others that you may not have known existed. When someone sees you improving and doing something positive with your life, they may become angry. This anger has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own insecurities. They may be angry because they are reminded of their own shortcomings. They might be insecure about their own unhealthy habits and the way it makes them feel. They may want to keep you down because it boosts their own self-esteem.
How to Deal – If this person has continuously harassed you despite your attempts to explain your new lifestyle to them and despite your efforts to explain the way their words hurt you, you may need to take a step back and reevaluate the relationship. Are they toxic to your wellbeing? Are they bringing more negativity and stress to your life than happiness? A REAL friend, someone who TRULY cares for you would not continually hurt you or try to bring you down. I have had to remove some of these toxic friends from my life… and I will tell you honestly, it was worth it. But that is a decision you will have to make for yourself. It’s obviously more difficult to cut a person like that out if they are a family member or a spouse. If you don’t want to cut this person out of your life, consider limiting your exposure to them, or simply avoiding the topic of health and fitness.
Is It a Lack of Understanding?
Sometimes when people don’t understand something, they mock it or pick it apart. It isn’t necessarily because they don’t like it… it may just be because they don’t get it.
How to Deal – Patiently explain to this person why you do what you do. Depending on that particular person, they may actually find the health benefits behind eating clean and exercising on the human body interesting! Or maybe they are a person that does better with actually engaging in the activity. Ask them if they’d like to tag along with you to yoga class or invite them to try some of your healthy recipes. You will have to use your own knowledge of the individual to find the best way to approach them! If you find, however, that despite your efforts to explain or engage them in your new habits, they still mock you, tell them how it makes you feel! Be open about your hurt feelings. If that person cares about you, they will not want to hurt your feelings!
Tips for Success:
Focus on You – When explaining to others how their negative remarks make you feel, don’t attack them. I know, easier said than done in some cases.. but there are better ways of expressing yourself. Using the words “me” and “I” instead of using the word “you” will greatly increase the chance of them hearing you out. By saying things like “YOU do this”, “YOU do that”, they may become defensive and refuse to hear what you have to say. Instead, turn the focus onto yourself. Say things like “It makes ME sad when I am told my food is weird” This illustrates your feelings and your thoughts without creating a tense and potentially hostile environment.
Be Respectful and Expect It In Return – If you show others respect, you deserve it in return. Remember that and do not settle for anything less. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. It would be unfair to mock or degrade others, only to turn around and criticize them for mocking you for your own lifestyle. Make sure you are not, in fact, doing what you accuse others of doing.
Create a Support Network – Reach out to people with similar interests and lifestyles. It might be tough at first if you are not naturally outgoing. But in this day and age, social media makes it easy to make new friends without that awkward initial “hello”. Try to step out of your shell at your next yoga class or spin cardio and talk to the person next to you. You’re more likely to meet people with a similar lifestyle if you reach out to individuals who are engaging in activities you enjoy.
Rid Yourself of Negative Thinking – It can be hard to do and may take some time, practice and extra effort… but creating a positive mindset is KEY to being successful at your health and fitness! The next time you catch yourself thinking or saying something negative, STOP, and immediately make yourself focus on something positive about the situation. Like I said, it will take some time and extra effort, but if you put in the work, it will be worth it.
I’ll leave you with this quote as food for thought: “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what you reinforce.” – Tony Gaskins