We operate in systems with our family, friends, workplace, neighborhoods and expectations of our cultural and religious upbringing. There are certain ways we behave and have become known in communities we belong to. When we change, their routines are also disrupted and these systems will try to bring their world back to equilibrium.
An example would be when you decide to end your bad habit of TV and ice cream after dinner with your partner and replace it with a 30 minute walk.
When you say, “ I am going for a walk after dinner, instead of eating ice cream and watching TV, because I have decided I need to lose weight” you should brace yourself for some push back. It’s human nature for others to question why you are changing. It’s also human nature to make it all about them!
Your partner could have a variety of thoughts:
This nighttime ritual is something your partner expects.
It’s also his bad habit.
In his mind you are telling him this behavior of ice cream and TV is wrong, therefore he is wrong to engage in it.
If you start an exercise program and lose weight you might leave your partner for someone thinner, prettier, healthier, etc.
You deciding to do something different may cause your partner to go to an uncomfortable place. He knows he needs to lose weight and get healthy and he gets angry with himself and projects that on to you. If you can do why can’t/won’t he?
There are all sorts of thoughts that go through people’s heads when we see someone make a change that disrupts routines. This disruption is even worse when some around you know they too need to make a change. Ask yourself, “What do others have to gain by my staying, overweight, financially unstable, or in a job I hate?” This will give you insight into some strategies you can employ.
But also remember that you do not need to justify yourself to anyone. You can be compassionate about the journey of others and still remain steadfast on yours.
What forms will the sabotage take?
Sometimes this sabotage will be so blatant that you can’t miss it and other times it will be so subtle you play right into the sabotage without realizing it.
The less than subtle forms:
• “Don’t go on a diet. You are always grouchy when you go on a diet,”
• “You don’t eat ice cream? Who doesn’t eat ice cream? It’s not like you’re allergic!”
• “I made this big batch of butter, cream cheese, chocolate, butterscotch and sugar cookies for you and you’re not going to eat them?”
The subtle forms:
• The closer you get to your “goal” weight the more you find yourself giving in to your partner’s desire for pizza.
• Your friends ask you to go to the bar after work, when you have already stated it was your evening to work out.
These subtle forms are usually without malice. Many times, a simple reminder will suffice and keep you on track and remind friends and partners of your priorities. But what about the less than subtle forms of sabotage?
When you realize or suspect someone is trying to sabotage you, there are three things you can do:
1. Negotiate a change in the behavior of others.
2. Change yourself.
3. Change the situation.
Negotiate a change in the behavior of others.
Stop engaging in the “But you don’t understand me,” game. They don’t need to understand, they need to know how to support you.
Figure out how you need to be supported and ask for it. When your friends ask you out for all you-can-eat Mexican lunch, suggest a healthier alternative.
Have the courage to tell them what support you need. “Hey, I really love our gal time – but I need you to stop asking me out for Mexican. Could we try this new food truck park that has options for me as well?”
Your friends may not even realize what they are doing. If so, they will support you by not asking you out for a binge fest or they may suggest a healthier option. One or two of your girlfriends will probably thank you because you had the courage to do what they needed to do but couldn’t.
Be intentional about your actions, but then turn those intentions into decisions. Make that decision to stay on your path, no matter what. Be that person who doesn’t eat ice cream every night. Be that person who exercises three days a week. Be that person who pursues her passion of painting. If your partner or friends insist on ordering pizza or eating Mexican, that’s fine. You can take yourself elsewhere, try a new recipe at home or bring your own snacks to a party.
These options may seem they are just punishment to you. You may feel left out because your friends are engaging in activities you can’t – at the moment. Once you get your good habit formed – it’s okay to go out and have that occasional taco. (Of course this is a different story for those of you who are quitting smoking, etc. That above advice is not good advice for you!)
How can you stay on track and still have fun with family and friends? Know your “why.” Why do you want to continue down this path of good habit forming? Why do you want to be that person who no longer procrastinates? Why do you want to be that person who loses 50 pounds or finishes writing that book?
My thoughts on a why that will make you cry.
Know your why and carry it with you all the time. Look at it, read it 50 times a day if you need to. Going back to your why will help sustain you through those moments you want to throw a pity-party or go off course.
Change the situation
If none of the above work – then you have two more options:
1. Give up on your goals and dreams – so the situations of having to ask others for support or making a change in you will no longer exist. (I don’t suggest giving up – how many times have you don’t that already?)
2. Leave the situation. Yes this is hard. I have done it myself. There were people, husbands, jobs and friends I had to let go of because they did not support me and they actively derailed my progress. Period. End of discussion. There came a time when I decided that what I wanted and how I needed to live my life was more important than how others wanted me to be.
More thoughts on making a change.
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