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People Pleasing: Dealing with Saboteurs

Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.
— Paramhansa Yogananda

In my last blog we looked at how to spot your weight loss saboteurs. In this blog we'll cover how to respond when people (wittingly or unwittingly) make your progress harder. Knowing that someone else's behaviour is unhelpful is one thing but knowing how to respond is a different challenge entirely.  

When you find that other people's responses to your weight loss are unhelpful you have two sets of values and needs in action, yours and theirs. A challenge experienced by a lot of people (many of whom call themselves 'people pleasers') is knowing how to balance the two . Often this results in the 'people pleaser' putting other people's needs first to avoid any conflict. While the ability to let potential conflict go is a useful skill in certain situations, in others it can store up even bigger problems with the 'people pleaser' bearing the brunt of the pain. So how can we deal with these situations in a healthy way? 

 

Be assertive: look for the win/win 

When your needs bump up against someone else's it can play out one of four ways. Let's look at the pros and cons of each: 

You win/I lose: This is called passive behaviour. In this situation you allow other people's need to come above yours. 'Their' needs and views get all the air time and yours take a back seat. It can make life seem easier in the short term and is useful in situations where conflict isn’t worth it. When used as a long-term strategy it can be destructive for you and, even worse, can reinforce poor behaviour in others. 

I win/you lose: Regardless of whether there is any physical intimidation this is called aggressive behaviour. This is where you put your needs and views first and do so in a way that doesn't allow for the other person to be heard. This involves putting your view across in a way that doesn't leave room for anyone else to speak up or dismissing or criticising the other person's point of view. If you attack another person's opinion instead of allowing room for multiple views then this is aggressive. You might feel like a winner in the short term but it can cause untold damage in the long term. 

You lose/I lose: This is called passive aggressive. This is where you put the other person's needs first (passive) but you resent it so you make sure they lose too (aggressive). Examples of this can be where you let someone get their way but you make it perfectly clear with your body language and facial expressions that you're not happy or maybe you agree with someone on the surface but then give them the silent treatment. It might feel like a small victory at the time but ultimately everyone loses. It's the most destructive of all the responses.  

I win/you win: This is being assertive. This is where you acknowledge and value the other person's needs and ensure the same is done for yours. Your needs get met and theirs do too. In some situations, both people can’t always get their own way but both should have their voices heard, respected and valued regardless of the outcome. If you can leave a situation with both people's needs being acknowledged and valued then you have been assertive. You can assert your needs and views even if you don't always get the outcome you want. 

 

Know your rights 

Every person on the planet is important. You deserve to be treated with care and respect, not because you've earnt, it but simply because you are a human being and you exist. There are certain inalienable rights we all have simply because we were born. As long as you do not harm others, you have the right to stand-up for yourself and defend your rights. Here are some of those rights: 

  • You have the right to be treated with respect. 
  • You have the right to express your feelings, opinions and wants. 
  • You have the right to set your own priorities. 
  • You have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty. 
  • You have the right to have opinions different than others. 
  • You have the right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally. 
  • You have the right to create your own happy and healthy life. 

These rights represent your boundaries and the key to a happy life is to be assertive when protecting them. 

 

How to deal with saboteurs 

1 Don't take it personally:  It's not you. You are OK. Remind yourself of this. Recognise what is happening. You're bearing the brunt of someone else's need, someone else's problem.  

Don’t take anything personally. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
— Don Miguel Ruiz

2 Take ownership of your thoughts, feelings and actions: You can not control others but you can control your own feelings words and actions. Other people are responsible for theirs. You are not responsible for making sure someone else's needs are met. We all get scared or angry sometimes but we choose whether to take this out on others or not. You wouldn't take it out on others, why should someone else? Take ownership for how you feel in any situation. No one can make you feel sad, angry or worthless unless you let them.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent
— Eleanor Roosevelt

3 Stay calm. Don’t get emotional. Two common responses are to attack the other person or withdraw. Don’t do either, neither will help.  Keep calm and  as hard as it can be sometimes try and respond in an adult to adult manner. 

4 Think through what is happening, acknowledge their need: Why might they be doing this? We're not trying to diagnose them or fix the other person, but there are 2 reasons why this is useful. Firstly, you think of the other person with kindness which always makes you feel better as well as causing you to treat them better. The second reason is that you might be able to acknowledge their need and allow them to move on with their sense of self in tact=win/win. 

5 Remember your rights: See above. These rights are yours and it's OK for you to assert them. 

6 Respond accordingly: Acknowledge the other persons' point of view and calmly assert your own. 

Some examples are below:

"I understand you have you read/believe/have heard X, doesn't work for some people. I've found that this healthy eating plan is working for me" 

"Yes you're right some people don't have much success with diets but I have found this one to be the right fit for me and my lifestyle. " (You can add in your weight loss total here if you choose. I had someone tell me my diet was a useless fad. I pointed out I'd dropped three dress sizes and had stayed that way for eversince-2 years. Needless to say, I didn't get any comeback.) 

"Thank you for the effort you have gone to with the cooking, you always take such good care of us. I'm very lucky to have a mum/aunt/nan that cares about me so much which is why I know you'll support me. I really appreciate your help" 

 

How about you?

How do you deal with saboteurs?

Does it work? 

What are your tips?