So you’ve made the decision: you’re overhauling your life. You joined a gym, you cleaned out your pantry, and your potluck contributions now come straight from Eating Well. You’re proudly telling the world about this change, and you full expect everyone to be equally excited about your revelation.
But they’re not. What gives?
First, let’s examine our history. How many times have we declared that we were ready to change? How many times did we jump with both feet into something only to give up a few weeks later? Well, I’m only speaking for myself here, but I’ve lost count. I get really excited a lot about a lot of things. And then I get bored.
It’s kinda my thing.
So I have to forgive my friends and family for not knowing that this time, it’s for real. They’ve been listening to me complain about my situation for a long time, and while they want to be ecstatic, it’s justifiably difficult. If the situation were reversed, I’d probably be the same way. But it’s not (and I don’t always operate on logic), so I’m hurt. And feeling hurt sucks.
That’s not great news, so what can you do about it?
You can keep on rocking it, and you have to trust that they will start to understand that this is not a phase. I know that’s not what you want to hear, because you want them to be excited for you right this minute. But it simply doesn’t work that way. And I’m sure they can fake it, if it truly means that much to you. But a better alternative is to find a buddy who is on the same path. They will understand in a way that your family and friends may not, and you can be excited for each other’s success.
You could also tell me about it. I’m ecstatic for you!
Second, let’s talk about envy. I know it’s not a fun word, and I know we don’t want to believe that our friends and family could be guilty of it. But think back to when you’ve been struggling with something, and your friend/neighbor/cousin/sister has just gotten it. And if it seemed like it happened easily? Worse. This could really be anything – a dream job, a new love, children, an exotic vacation, a beautiful home, whatever. You want so much to be excited for them. But you hurt inside. And you immediately start to defend your own situation.
And while you’re busy trying to explain the reasons why you’re still okay being with who you are, you’re actually putting down their success. And that sucks.
But we’ve all done it. I know I have – plenty of times. I don’t know why we go immediately into defense mode, but sometimes it feels automatic. Like we can’t control it. Our mouths start spewing out words, and before we know it, we’ve just totally put down someone we love. All because we’re envious.
So now, we’re the one making the huge life change, and our friends just aren’t ready. And they are trying so hard to be excited for us, but they also have to remind themselves that they’re okay for not being ready. I think some people do a better job of balancing that than others, and that’s okay.
It doesn’t mean they don’t love us. It doesn’t (usually) mean they’re jerks. It just means that they’re human. And although that doesn’t necessarily help us feel better, I think having compassion for them can help. Because we don’t know what’s going on in their minds. And if we’re doing something that we know is bettering our lives, then we don’t really need their approval. It would be nice, but we don’t need it.
And the next time a friend achieves the very thing we’ve been personally struggling with? We have to remember to mirror their excitement. Even if it means we go home and cry. Because maybe their achievement will help us in our own journeys. And hell, if nothing else, it’s really good karma.
And the fact of the matter is, your own journey may be the very thing that makes an unsupportive friend change their own life. That same person that’s trying to cram fries down your throat while you’re busy enjoying a salad may call you for weight loss advice in the future. Maybe not of course, but you just never know. So regardless of what’s going on around you, keep on doing you. Because in the end, you’re making a change for you and no one else.