In the sixth installment of his Real or Not Real blog series, Profile’s Coach of Coaches, Chris Clark, brings the realness about social support and how those you are closest to impact your journey.
Throughout your life you’re constantly changing. Your perception is ever-evolving and the things you experience shape the way you think and feel. Change starts in your mind and extends out into the world where it can be noticed by others. When you start thinking differently about your nutrition, activity and overall lifestyle, questions and observations begin to form and make their way into conversations you have with the people around you. Your perceptions begin to alter their perceptions and vice versa. This is all important to think about because the people you surround yourself with are part of your environment and they influence your life.
At Profile, we like to bring your friends and family into the change process for the support they offer. Sometimes, you may find it scary, difficult, or impossible to bring up certain thoughts with your “support” system. Real social support should help you achieve and maintain your goals, so let’s get real about social support and examine the role it plays in your journey.
When you change, those that are close to you are often the first to notice. We rely on their positivity to help us. Yet, we have all had moments where our friends and family weren’t quite as excited about an idea or new look as we had hoped. Are you wrong? Are they wrong? It can be confusing when those that know and love you best don’t see eye-to-eye with your decisions. Instead of questioning their love or friendship, let’s try to view the situation through their eyes:
- They recognize you as you were and are comfortable with the past version of you.
- They may wonder why you’re making the change. This can cause them to wonder if something is wrong.
- They associate you with all the good times you had in the past. Often times, these memories are centered around food. Those instances are important to them and they may be left wondering if things will be the same now that you’ve changed.
- They may ask themselves: do I need to change too? Maybe they’re not ready for that - and that’s ok.
Humans are creatures of habit. Change is hard for us. We all go through a change process for new behaviors. Believe it or not, those around you need to go through the same process when you change something about yourself. They need time to get used to a change they see in you. That can be extremely difficult because people don’t change until they are ready.
Think of what it took for you to decide to make a change in your lifestyle and become a Profile member. That process can take weeks, months, or years. Your friends and family may fight the change, just as they would fight anything they are not ready for. This is called precontemplation and is a normal part of the change process. You may feel the urge to push, provide education, or even beg for their approval. The reality of the situation is that your supporters need to time to come to terms with your changes as well and pushing them to accept these changes may make it harder. If you’re experiencing a similar situation, here’s some strategies to allow your supporters the time they need to accept these changes:
- Avoid judgement and acknowledge their lack of readiness to accept the changes you want to make.
- Help support them by emphasizing the choice is theirs to feel this way.
- Redirect the focus onto something else that you can do together that supports you both. Example: You used to go shopping and have coffee together in the past; let’s continue that activity to enjoy each other’s company. Remind them that eating isn’t the focus of your friendship and that all time spent together is valuable.
- Encourage your friend or family member to voice their opinions about new activities that you can enjoy together. Example: We used to go to the movies and eat snacks there; I’m open to going to the movies with you now and it will be ok if we enjoy different snacks.
Although we rely on others to help us through change, we must be aware that it can be hard for those closest to us to embrace it. It is truly incredible how the changes you make can lead to change in others too. When you see that you had a role in someone else’s positive change it can feel amazing. Don’t change so others change; change because you want to. When people aren’t quite sure what to make of your new lifestyle, smile on the inside and know that they have started a new journey as well. All good things take time. Step back, be patient and be ready to embrace them when they arrive, no matter how long it takes.