So you’ve decided to square your shoulders, lift your head and get healthy. Everyone you know is going to be supportive, right? Wrong.
The pretty one. The smart one. The athletic one. The funny one. The fat one. We all have people in pigeon holes and we all fit in someone else’s cubbies. It’s kind of a Cosmic Spice Girl thing without the platform shoes. When we Fat Ones decide to climb out of our cubbies, we sometimes meet resistance.
None of us makes the decision to change in an instant. We gave it a lot of thought before we changed our lifestyles. We got used to the idea internally before we ever floated it out there in the world. By the time we get the idea into action, it’s not new to us anymore; however, to those around us, it may very well be. The aren’t used to it and, frankly, they may not like it. We are upsetting their cubby system. We are all set to mess up their pegboard.
Fortunately, the wonderful people in our lives will make the adjustment from surprised to supportive to willing to revamp their own pegboards in just moments. The toxic people in our lives will not. They are the ones who will say things like, “You’re so fat, what does it matter if you miss one day at the gym?” (Someone actually said that to a friend of mine. Can you imagine?) They may say, “What are you doing? Starving yourself again?” (Again, an actual quote.) Those statements are, as my mother would have said, about as helpful as a case of the clap.
I know that it’s unrealistic to remove those kinds of toxic people from our lives 100%. We might want to, but it’s not possible in a social, familial, or professional sense. The keys to handling toxic people, I believe are:
- Identify them – knowing what they are and knowing that their toxins are their own issues reduces their power,
- Limit exposure to them – if I put myself into a toxic environment – say a room with dangerous levels of carbon monoxide – I must limit the amount of time I spend in that environment else I will be overcome by the poison. The same thing is absolutely true with toxic people.
We have changed (are changing, are maintaining) our lifestyles so that we can live healthier, more comfortable lives. Our relationships with anyone who doesn’t support us in that quest really need to be examined. How can they not want us to be healthier? How can they not be supportive each time we try, even though we often fail? How can they not want us to continue to strive to live better?
Looking at it another way: what kind of person wants us to continue to poison ourselves or to be in physical pain that is reversible?
I know that it’s not easy and I have honestly never had to do it, but I wonder what the response of the toxic person would be if we countered their derision with, “Exactly why is it that you want me to continue committing suicide with my behavior?” Let’s try it! C’mon, it’ll be fun.
Listen, ultimately, we have no control over them or their behavior – their trash is their trash. Let’s leave it to them deal with it. Let’s do what is best for us.
Square pegs unite!