Achieving a new health goal can be a very difficult task, and having a support system is crucial to success. Have you ever told someone about a goal or dream of yours and they immediately started …
Achieving a new health goal can be a very difficult task, and having a support system is crucial to success. Have you ever told someone about a goal or dream of yours and they immediately started telling you all of the reasons why it might not work out? Maybe you’ve even been the person putting someone else’s dreams down. It’s a normal first instinct to protect people we care about. As humans, we have a negativity bias that tells us to look for safety and watch out for potential threats, and taking a risk on a new goal seems very unsafe. Although it’s normal to want to tell your friend to wait, take a different route, or reconsider, it’s actually not very helpful. Chances are, the person we care so deeply about has taken a lot of consideration on their goal before sharing it with you. They are coming to you with something they feel both excited about and afraid of because they trust you. It’s okay to ask questions and be curious to learn more, but it’s crucial to lead with encouragement and words of affirmation. What you say to them in such a vulnerable moment can greatly change their course of action, so use that power for good.
Once you’ve let them know you’re here to support them, you may be unsure if they’re looking for your input or advice. One of the most valuable tools I’ve learned over the last few years is to ask the person you’re supporting what they need from you right now. A simple question such as, “What would you like from me right now? Do you need me to just listen and support you, or would you like my input and advice?” can go a long way in both making your friend feel heard and also deepening the relationship. Some of our most basic needs as humans are feeling love, safety, and connection from others, and asking your partner or friend how they’d like you to show up at that moment makes the relationship much easier for both of you. Nobody likes receiving unsolicited advice, so when they don’t want to hear your thoughts, don’t share them.
Lastly, we must let people go through their own processes. Your friend may be looking to achieve a goal that you’ve already accomplished. If so, refer back to point number two and be sure to ask if they’d like your help and advice before offering it. There is a high chance they’re going to take a different path than you to achieve the same goal and you have to let them. We all have different lives, medical histories, schedules, timelines, priorities, and preferences that influence the path we choose. There rarely is a universal right or wrong answer when it comes to achieving health-related goals, so respect their process. Be sure to honor their new habits and boundaries and find new things you can do together.
Someone close to you changing the way they live their life may make you feel uncomfortable. This is for you to process alone, with a therapist, or with a different person you feel safe with. It is never someone else’s responsibility to stay the same to keep you in your comfort zone. We all have the capability to be excellent supporters of those close to us. I hope you take this opportunity seriously and give others the type of support you’d like to receive.
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