Does it sometimes feel like the one person you KNOW has your back the most – who supports you NO MATTER WHAT – all of a sudden… doesn’t want to see you succeed?
It need not be your most significant person, either. Anyone in your social circle. Maybe even at work? You talk about goals and/or changes you’re making for the better, but they’re not showing interest in your efforts to improve yourself.
Maybe you can recollect a time when it felt like someone you care about is actually trying to sabotage your progress?
You’re not alone.
Years ago, I was working with a personal training client who had over 200 pounds to lose. She was so dang determined! Just walking from her car to the front door of the gym was difficult.
If someone has 200 plus pounds to lose, the time spent in the gym is really important… not necessarily for the reasons you might think (the workout) but, rather, helping shift mindset. Much of our time together was spent figuring out what was going on in her head, why she was numbing herself with food. Listening to discern what triggered certain feelings and how I could help her to create new habits and new ways to cope with these feelings other than food.
By the 3 month mark she had lost almost 60 pounds!
But then, all of a sudden, something changed.
She hit a major plateau. She started missing sessions. There was always an excuse. She stopped turning in her food journal and, before long, she started to gain the weight back.
So we sat down and had a heart to heart. What I found was something that’s more common than many people realize. As her habits and outlook were improving, as she was working so hard to make positive changes, her relationship with her husband began to suffer.
Though, I must acknowledge, he was supportive at first.
He helped to make healthy changes in her diet. He would drive her to her sessions with me. He prepared healthier dinners with her and didn’t complain at all when she stopped buying some of the junk I told her she had to give up.
But before long, he was bringing home treats after work… first it was a piece of pie to reward her for losing more weight. Then it got more regular. Next, he started giving her grief if she didn’t want to go out to dinner every night. Soon after, he stopped offering to drive her to our sessions. They started fighting. He told her, “I don’t like who you’re becoming.” She confided in me that she didn’t like who he was becoming. It was so hard for her to come to terms with what was going down, eventually explaining that it felt as if he didn’t want her to get healthy. Crying, she elaborated…
It feels like he’s actually jealous or angry about the fact that I’m feeling better! And he really gets annoyed when he sees how proud I am of my progress. Oh, and he doesn’t like you. He really doesn’t like you. I just feel like he would be happier if I failed at this.
This is super normal and it has nothing to do with their lack of support or love for you.
In fact, it is precisely BECAUSE you are so important to them that this is happening. You know me and my lists (ha!), so allow me to go further and explain why someone who loves you would respond this way.
• Fear of change.
• Fear of abandonment.
• Feeling a loss of power or decrease in personal significance.
• Desire to be needed.
• Trigger self-awareness (your progress or behavior triggers something in them they wish was different but aren’t yet willing to make the change).
• Control – people want to hold tight because they love and need you.
One of my favorite analogies that really helps to paint a picture of this entire scenario is called, “Crabs In a Bucket” – more commonly referred to as Crab Mentality.
Picture it: A bunch of crabs clawing about in a bucket. A healthy crab could easily escape, but doesn’t. WHY? Well, each individual crab is more focused on saving himself rather than that of the entire group. So when a crab actually does try and get out of the barrel, the rest of the selfish group will do everything it can to drag the poor little crab back. Like, literally, they will all pull him down! And that’s pretty much their existence. Until they effectively bring on their own collective demise. Or make their way onto your seafood platter.
This crab analogy works perfectly with my story of said fitness client. The husband’s behavior was really an attempt to diminish the progress of his wife’s accomplishments (for reasons we can only speculate) – who was excelling far more than she ever had before. She was getting there!
What to do about it.
Oooh, another list!
• Evaluate – consider if the relationship is valuable (friends vs family).
• Use Empathy – imagine what it’s like from their point of view.
• Self Awareness of Your Obsession – are you only talking about your new path?
• Lead with Love – change is only embraced when we feel loved and safe.
• Lead by Example and Invitation – don’t shame or tell people what they should be doing or what would be good or them. They already know.
• Communicate – with empathy, use their words, avoid pointing fingers or saying “you”.
• Reframe Opportunity – view discord and disconnect as an opportunity for growth.
Leave me a comment down below and tell me if you can relate to any of this. Who supports you (or used to) in your life? And remember, lead with love. Can’t repeat that enough.