A 3-Step roadmap to deal with negativity
So, you’ve been on a journey towards better health and your dream weight for a while, and you’re feeling great! No matter whether your goal weight is lower or higher than where you are now, you’ve taken action, put in the work, and the results are becoming clear to everyone around you, even your usually oblivious Dad!
This is when the trouble starts. Well-meaning acquaintances take it upon themselves to comment on your new size or shape. Your family runs out of patience with your dietary requirements or gym schedule. You begin to doubt yourself, and think longingly of staying in bed instead of going to yoga class.
Welcome to the joys of undertaking a personal transformation in today’s information-overloaded world. Everyone seems to be an expert in everyone else’s business. In my experience, metamorphosis is a time when we’re raw and almost breaking. Gathering up resources, committing to doing the work to make the change, figuring out exactly what the goal is… these are huge achievements, and often make us feel our most vulnerable. Add too much external input, and we are left shaken and distrusting ourselves.
I remember when meeting a mentor of mine when I was at my highest weight, and then again, 6 months later and 6kgs lighter. She looked at me, and said I looked great! And then proceeded to tell me I shouldn’t lose more weight, that I was now “fine”. And at that point, I was a good 25kgs from my goal weight, and at least 18kgs away from a normal BMI (although BMI isn’t the only or best way to determine goal weight). I was flabbergasted! I did not look or feel fit by any stretch of the imagination. Her comments really bothered me, and that triggered me to come up with the simple 3-step formula to deal with unwanted comments and *cough*nosey parkers*cough* that I’m going to share below.
Once you’ve found a goal weight that feels good and a plan that you think is the best way to your goal, go for it! Play full out, and know that even if you slip, all you need to do is get back on your feet and keep going. Channel Dory from Finding Nemo and just keep swimming! This can take all of our bandwidth, so when people start gently prying or judging, we have no resources left to handle that. This is why I use a standard set of responses based on who is doing the prying. I’m going to share my system here with you, so you can tweak it to what feels best for you.
When the person is a casual acquaintance, colleague, neighbour – someone who is on the periphery of your life, and isn’t someone you want to share intimate details with:
Step 1: Smile and say, “Thank you for noticing!”
Step 2: Avoid all mention of numbers. There’s no need for you to be specific. Be as vague as you like. If pressed, say something along the lines of, “I’m feeling great, and really enjoying my plan. I’m not really focussed on the numbers.” In other words, lie through your teeth if you want to!
Step 3: Change the topic. The best way I’ve found to do this is to compliment the other person on something, or ask them about something important to them. Stay pleasant, and just keep telling yourself that their heart is in the right place.
When the person is a close friend, loved one, or family member who is privy to your journey, and is beginning to be concerned and critical:
Step 1: Acknowledge their concern and thank them for talking to you about it.
Step 2: Without getting defensive, mention at least two reasons why it is so important for you to hit your goal, whatever it is. You don’t need to specify numbers here either unless you want to.
Step 3: Enlist their help and support. You loved ones want you to be happy. Including them, even if in a small way, in your journey can make them feel appreciated and more invested in your success.
When you’re beginning to doubt yourself, and wondering if you’re doing the right thing:
Step 1: Take a deep breath in. This can be the trickiest of the lot to handle. First, start off by thanking yourself for starting on the path to better health, and for loving yourself enough to do it.
Step 2: Look at why this resistance is cropping up at this particular moment in time. Are you at a weight where something significant happened to you? Have you never been this weight before? Are you feeling sick? Take some time, journal about it, and get some clarity on whether this is a block based on fear, or your gut is telling you that you’re veering off track.
Step 3: Once you have clarity around the issue, take one tiny step towards your re-evaluated goal. It might be committing to a new food plan, or telling someone you’re finally done, and you’re where you want to be. Whatever your inner compass is guiding you towards, show that you’re listening by taking intentional action.
Looking after ourselves is one of the best things we can do to improve our self-image and our sense of self-worth. This is so crucial, so personal, and as much as we would love to be able to sit in a bubble and not let the world influence us, its effects are manifold and insidious. Staying true to ourselves, whatever form that takes, is what this world really yearns for. You are precious, and what you have to offer is desperately needed.
Here’s to your unique path to self-love and success!