OK gang, last week you learned that there are powerful social forces working against your best efforts to have a more fulfilling, happy, and satisfied life.
You learned that when you put forth efforts to change and improve your life, certain powerful forces will act to make you retreat back to your old way of being.
This explains why sometimes you feel like you take one step forward, and then two steps back.
Your ENVIRONMENT acts like a gravitational pull, keeping you “down” and closer to earth when you try to grow and expand.
Your environment is comprised of three main elements. I will describe one element each week in depth, so you can understand how they work against you, and the steps you can take to overcome them.
Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood (Metaphorically and Literally)?
The first element you need to know about is how the PEOPLE around you, the people in your environment, keep you from improving and becoming happier.
When I say “people,” I mean just about everyone in your life: your family of origin, your spouse, your children, your neighbors, friends, church associates, co-workers, and acquaintances in the community.
I want to start off by saying that, for the most part, the people who act against you probably are NOT doing it intentionally or consciously.
The truth of the matter: when you start to improve and take control of your life, it can be intimidating to the people around you.
They may start to feel self-conscious, maybe even guilty or ashamed that they are not doing the same things you are.
When they say discouraging comments, or comments that appear to be unsupportive (if not downright destructive), they are speaking about their own perceived inadequacies.
Why Does This Happen?
The first thing to understand – human relationships are wildly complex.
As we go through life, we develop relationships with people. It starts with our family. Our parents spend a huge amount of time “studying” us, learning about our tendencies, weaknesses, strengths, and even our “triggers.”
As we push out into the world, we encounter other people.
Because the world is really big, and because it can seem overwhelming to tackle the impossible job of knowing all the details, nuances, motivations, and desires of absolutely everyone we meet, our brains form an understanding of other people based on just a few characteristics.
We learn how that person responds to things, their general way of looking at the world, and their preferences in various situations. The more time we spend with them, the more we feel confident that this person will behave in certain predictable and knowable ways.
Naturally, everyone is also looking at YOU, doing the same thing – trying to get to know you based on only a relatively few characteristics.
When you KNOW someone, it means you generally can predict what they will do in normal situations and in your interactions with them.
When that person starts to CHANGE – they change the foods they eat, the way they spend money, the places they spend their time, the types of things they talk about – it means that person is no longer predictable for you.
If a person becomes unpredictable, that makes US feel nervous. We may try to subtly encourage that person back into a behavioral pattern that WE understand so that our discomfort goes away.
In the Battle of Comfort vs Discomfort, Comfort ALWAYS Wins….
Let me tell you, there are few things more intimidating than seeing a close friend or relative achieve high levels of success when you are not achieving anywhere near those levels.
Unfortunately, much of human nature comes out at these times. People around you – even close friends and relatives – will display their own hurt and shame about their own lives through mean or dismissive comments. Some people may even overtly try to tempt you back into old habits.
One of the hardest scenarios is when your spouse is the one who works against your progress. I see this all the time, I’m sad to say.
My direct advice in this instance is to make a very strong, concerted effort to improve communication with your spouse, even to the point of meeting with a counselor to help sort out the conflicting emotions and reactions everyone is experiencing.
No matter the source of the “people forces” seeking to keep you down, the solution is the same: expand into a new social circle of people who ARE supportive of your best and highest goals and objectives.
When you are the only one you know who is trying to lose weight, be more fulfilled, make more money, or pay down debt, it feels lonely and isolating.
It can feel like you are fighting a losing battle when you never see anyone around you doing the same thing and WINNING at it.
The people around you will dictate the level of support you get. This is not a matter of “dumping” any friends or family.
Rather, it is about adding to your social circle a group of like-minded folks, some of whom are farther along in their journey so you can have a vision for what is possible. It is also helpful if that circle of new associates has people who are newer than you are to the journey. This will offer perspective on how far you have come, and allow you to mentor and teach the “newbies.”
This combo of serving as a mentor while being SERVED by those farther along that you will strengthen your resolve, give you assurance that you are on the right track, and the certainty that others have done similar things successfully.
I would be amiss if I did not add a caveat – if someone in your life is destructive to your best efforts, you may want to consider reducing the amount of time you spend with them (excluding a spouse).
Sometimes we need to release people who actively undermine us.
This act alone – minimizing previously held relationships – may also cause some drama in your world.
I do not advocate being mean, unkind, or hurtful to anyone. You want to unwind yourself from unsupportive relationships with grace, compassion, and love.
After all, their antagonism results from their own hurting hearts.
When it comes down to it, the decision on a daily basis is: Do I pursue what is in MY best interest, or what the people around me say I should do?
People matter – they are THE major part of your environment and the most obvious obstacle to your success.
If you want an outline of this blog series, click here for a free report.
Stay tuned, because next week I reveal the SECOND aspect of your environment that adds to the gravitational pull of your environment keeping you down and churning in mediocrity.
Comments? I’d love to hear them!
Who in YOUR life is most supportive? And where can YOU find MORE supportive people?
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