Weighty Matters

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Providing Support

on October 7, 2013

There was an article in the paper over the weekend that talked about how some people do not receive positive support from their circle of family and friends. Sometimes, when you make positive changes in your life, some of the people around you don’t know how to react or what to say. Some may feel threatened as if your changes affect them or, often more to the point, as if it pressures them to also change.

Picture if a friend was a smoking buddy, drinking buddy or eating buddy. If you’re overweight and eat a lot and you’re around friends who also eat a lot and are overweight, it creates a more comfortable atmosphere. It’s okay to eat a lot around them because they’re doing it too. So if one of the buddies decides not to overeat, it can make the other buddies uncomfortable, like they’ll be judged for not making the same decision.

Some people will even go so far as to sabotage the other person’s positive efforts. It’s that important for them to maintain the status quo.

I have been phenomenally fortunate in that I have not encountered any negative reactions to my journey. Perhaps there are one or two friends/acquaintances who have been mostly silent and absent, but the vast majority of people in my life have showered me with overwhelmingly positive support. Even people I know more casually through business or around town applaud my efforts and cheer me on. Those of you here are also a constant support system. I am very lucky and always appreciative.

The article I read also talked about the journey being a two way street. It pointed out that it’s important for the person who is making/has made the changes to be supportive to the circle in the ways that the individuals surrounding them need. This was an excellent point. Supporting others in the way that they need means being sensitive to their journeys and where they are in their respective processes. It does not mean that I should suddenly start urging any overweight friend to get with the program and start working on their own diet and fitness. I’m not going to cast long, disapproving looks at their plates or scoff if they order dessert. Being supportive means being there to listen and encourage whether they’re able to begin weight loss efforts or not. That’s non-judgmental and truly supportive.

I spent too many years resisting help or running on the “lose-lose-lose-gain-it-all-back” wheel to not understand how difficult it is to maintain long term success. I am not going to fault someone else for not trying or not trying harder. If they want a diet and fitness buddy, I’m available. If they don’t, that has to be okay too.

It’s hard sometimes to find the balance. When my mom had her last, worst relapse, she not only fell off of the wagon with her alcoholism but the wheels nearly came off her life all together. There was no way that we, her family, could not stage an intervention. However, we also knew that if she did not choose to try to recover, we could only change our own lives and choices in order to protect ourselves. What she did with her life was up to her. If she chose recovery which, thank God, she did, then we could give her every bit of support and help that we could muster.

It’s most difficult for me around the few friends that still smoke cigarettes. Yes, I’m one of those former smokers who absolutely hate cigarettes and all forms of smoking. (Coming up this October 28th will be the 27th anniversary of me quitting.) The smell of cigarette smoke grosses me out. I have a couple of friends who are heavy smokers and the smell infusing their clothing is so strong that it almost makes me sick to hug them. I hug them anyway because I love them, but I don’t comment or wave my hands to blow away the smoke if they light up. I do try to stand upwind, however. Smoke blowing in my face makes me sick. I don’t permit smoking in my house or car but keep a single ashtray around if someone wants to smoke on my outside porch.

If they want to quit and ask me how I did it so many years ago, I’m happy to share and empathize, cheer for them and support them however they need. It’s up to them to make the choice.

This makes me think of a quote by Plato that I have taped to my desk. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

3 responses to “Providing Support

  1. Hope says:

    Of course everyone is supporting you. You’re awesome and have excellent taste in friends!

  2. Susanne says:

    I love that saying. Kindness is such a wonderful attribute.

  3. Skye says:

    It’s amazing how many people can suddenly become aggressive or vicious when you do things in your life that feels like a threat to their way of life or their world view. I’ve definitely enountered that. I think it’s wonderful that you can be open and compassionate and supportive to others without trying to “help” them achieve what you have achieved (of course, that is the kind of person you are!), and that you have such caring and supportive friends and family. That makes achieving success easier. I’m very happy for you!

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