Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Stopping Your Saboteurs

dark cloudsYou try to improve your life and are determined to stick to your diet, exercise regularly, get your spending under control, stop smoking or break another habit. You get your act together and your determination is strong. Everything is going well. It’s hard but you’re managing to keep your resolve. Then your friend or romantic partner or mother does something to put temptation in your path and you begin to struggle to stay on track. Why can’t people support you?? These kinds of people can put a dark cloud over you.

Unfortunately there are people who see you making progress that they haven’t been able to and are jealous, or who feel threatened by what you’re doing or have  other reasons for not being happy for you. Not only do they not support your efforts, they also create roadblocks for you. For example, years ago I’d gained a bit of weight and decided to get rid of it. I got myself into a really good zone and my body began to slim down.

I was seeing a guy at the time who was a bit insecure and that insecurity made him try to sabotage my weight loss. He began by telling me he was fine with me the way I was and it wasn’t necessary for me to slim down. I explained that I wasn’t doing it for him. It was for me and I wanted to take off my extra weight. He argued about it, which I found annoying. Then he began bringing fattening goodies when he came over and tried to tempt me with it. He’d leave a box of my favorite cookies on the counter, knowing that cookies talk to me or he’d bring a quart of ice cream, eat it in front of me and then leave it for me in my freezer. I asked him not to but his ears were deaf to it.

When we went out to eat he’d push me to get dessert and when I refused, he ordered something he knew I liked and kept offering me a bite. It finally hit me that he was afraid I’d find someone else if I got my body into shape or bug him to work on himself. He wasn’t fat but could have gotten fitter by eating in a healthier way. In the past we loved to go to eat together and both of us had fun pigging out. But he was able to burn most of it off while the food lodged in my belly and hips. I wasn’t fun to go out to eat with anymore. When we both had unhealthy eating habits, there was no guilt as we encouraged each other. While I ate more carefully he did feel guilty, which wasn’t fun.

Once I realized why he tried to sabotage my diet, I had more compassion. But it still wasn’t right! I’ve also had friends who tried to sabotage certain friendships by instigating problems if they felt left out or wanted more of my time. And I’ve recognized bad advice given on purpose for how to handle a situation with a boyfriend, when she didn’t have one.

Sabotage can be overt, like my boyfriend tempting me with fattening food when I dieted, or subtle, like encouraging behavior that can create a rift between you and someone or telling you someone’s behavior isn’t nice when you find nothing wrong with it. Saboteurs can be found in all areas of life. A co-worker may push you to do things that could sabotage your promotion or create trouble between you and a co-worker.

It’s up to you to stop saboteurs. You don’t have to get angry or nasty. But you do need to set them straight. The softer and nicer you express yourself, the greater the chance you’ll get through to them. First, think about the repercussions of letting them continue. How will you feel if you gain weight or hurt a friendship or romantic relationship or rapport with colleagues or your boss by going along with the saboteur? Let that motivate you to take a stand and set boundaries. For example:

•    Say your version of, “If you can’t respect that my diet is important to me, I can’t eat with you anymore.”
•    Change the subject if the person starts to “advise” you about other people or try to put down someone you like.
•    Explain that you don’t like their comments and would appreciate their respecting that.
•    Don’t defend yourself. You have a right to choose your own food or behavior or opinions or friends. A simple, “I’m fine with what I’m doing” or “My choices work for me” is all you need to say.
•    Don’t complain to the people involved.

There may always be people who are jealous or threatened by you or what you’re doing. It’s up to you to set boundaries about what you don’t find to be appropriate. Love yourself enough to be firm. If someone is a real friend they’ll understand. You may have to cut ties with dome people, which is better than having a toxic influence.
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