Rap stars aren’t the only hustlers with haters. Any time you make a significant lifestyle change, launch a new business, take a chance or expand your horizons, there will be nay-sayers. Most of the time, you can move on from those people, but what if your friends, family and loved ones are the non-believers?
The first thing to remember is that your close friends and family feel they’re protecting you. They’re just worried this new plant-based diet of yours will leave you malnourished. We’ve all heard about the vegas who don’t get enough protein.
In many cases, they truly do mean well. Often they’re just projecting their own fears and insecurities onto you. Stay steady along your path, and lead strong by example.
It won’t be easy walking alone, but here are three strategies that can help you deal with unsupportive friends and family:
Address your own self-criticism
Let’s face it: negativity is everywhere these days, but not all negativity affects us equally. Surely you’ve shrugged off the words of a stranger, yet those same words coming from someone you love can trigger all sorts of emotional pain. Why is that?
It’s not the words from these individuals that hurt us. It’s how the words trigger our own self-criticism. If we’re sensitive about our weight, for example, and someone close to us insinuates that we might want to consider exercise, that can hurt tremendously. (I’ve been there.) It hurts because we already feel shame, disappointment, or any other negative feeling towards that situation.
If we shore up our emotional health and address the negative voice in our head, we’ll be much more resilient to words that come our way, no matter who they’re from. Try therapy, meditation, gratitude journaling, and just taking a little time each day to tell yourself how great you are.
Consciously emphasize the positive vision of your future
Did you know that our brain weights negative information twice as heavily as good news? Why would we be wired that way? Think about the wildebeest on the savannah. He looks left and sees the lovely lake with precious water to quench his thirst. He then looks right and sees a lioness chasing down his friend. Which piece of data is more important? Our human mind is not much different.
Therefore, when a close friend or family member says something negative to us, it can overshadow all the loving and caring things they’ve done for us over the years. All we can think about is how they’re not supporting us in our change.
It’s important to remind ourselves of what I said earlier. They’re just looking out for you the way they think is best. We can step back, take a deep breath, and acknowledge that these may be their own fears, and that’s ok! We can navigate through it.
Focus on the positive vision of your future. Repeat that positive vision 10 times for every one time you hear a negative comment. Sure, if there’s some truth to what they’re saying, pay attention and adjust accordingly. It’s important to take a rational approach to decision making. Beyond that, live in the vision of your ideal self.
I can tell you from personal experience. I lost 100 pounds on a whole-food, plant-based diet, and some of my biggest skeptics turned into my most inspired supporters.
Surround yourself with the right people
It’s been said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Being around negative people will incline us to think and feel negatively about ourselves and our potential. By contrast, being around yes-people isn’t helpful either. They might say nice things to you that may not be constructive, leading you down the wrong path because they’re afraid to be truthful.
Find like-minded, purpose-driven people who believe in you AND are willing to give you honest, constructive feedback. It might take some time to develop those relationships, but when you do, I promise your life will improve dramatically in so many ways.
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