Haters Gonna Hate (and how to deal with it)
Do you receive hate for wanting to make a positive change?
When I first started working out and changing what I ate 4 and a half years ago I was met with an incredible amount of resistance from friends and family.
My girlfriend was supportive (she’s a good one, she’s now my wife) but almost everyone else wasn’t.
People regularly said things like:
“lol, can’t believe you’r getting up at 5:30 to go to the gym before work”
“Rob, what’s wrong? Are you sick? Why aren’t you ordering the huge pizza or the double decker burger?”
“No beer? What’s wrong? Oh go on! Drink it!”
“Just one won’t hurt”
“One day off from your diet won’t hurt”
“Come out with us tonight – you can skip the gym in the morning!”
“Don’t you get bored with what you eat now?”
“You’re losing too much weight – you should stop now”
It’s a problem that a lot of people face when they’re trying to improve themselves. It’s not just when you start making a change to your diet and exercise habits. I’ve had similar comments if I ever mentioned I was investing in stocks, not buying something because I wanted to save or stick to my budget, or if I was upping my pension contribution.
The reason people say stuff like this is actually not about you.
It’s about them.
The only reason people make these comments is because, by improving yourself, you are making them feel bad about themselves.
You are no longer the predictable person they knew. You are now on an upward trajectory, and that makes them scared. If you keep going on that path, you might become too good to spend time with them.
They also see you rejecting those behaviours that they still engage in as you rejecting them. Your relationship might be based on some of these experiences you are now refusing to engage in, and they feel threatened.
Perhaps they secretly want to make the same changes you are, but it just seems like too much effort or they are scared of failing, so they remain unhappy.
Perhaps they’ve tried to make similar changes before and they ultimately failed.
They want you to fail too, because if you succeed they will feel bad about their own attempts. If you succeed where they failed, it confirms them as a failure.
Keeping it on the down-low
If you can keep your new healthier lifestyle more private (not secret) then do so. There’s no need to tell the whole world that you’re going to the gym now and you no longer eat X and Y foods.
This is asking for a reaction. Unfortunately most people’s instant reaction (before they’ve even thought about it) is likely to be criticism or to shoot you down, rather than saying “good for you!”
Don’t hide it, but don’t parade it around people either. Let your work do the talking. In 6 – 12 months they’ll notice the changes in you and be more likely to respond positively if you haven’t shoved it under their noses.
What to do when people hate:
- Don’t rise to it or respond aggressively
- Resist the urge to thrown a negative comment back in their direction. “You know you really ought to look after yourself, too” isn’t helpful.
- Don’t succumb to the pressure and eat a load of stuff you didn’t really want to or drink a gallon of alcohol that you’ll regret.
- Remember this is about them being worried you will reject them when you’ve completed your transformation to “fully fledged healthy person”. So just remember they’re acting this way because they’re scared of losing you!
- If you have to remind people that it’s your choice what you eat and drink just say something simple like “just trying to be healthier” and make sure you keep it light-hearted. You can follow it up with “Don’t worry, we can still be friends even if we don’t eat the same!”
- Another thing you can say is “I totally understand not everyone wants to do what I’m doing. It’s fine for us to have different ideals in this area, and my choice isn’t a condemnation of yours,
- If all else fails, just smile, nod and ignore (to be honest, you’ll probably have to do this).
Cutting People Out
If people won’t stop, you have to question whether them wanting to spend time with you was based on you as a person, or because you used to validate their less than healthy habits.
Some relationships do run their course when you no longer share anything in common. You become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If the people you spend most of your time with aren’t supportive of your new goal, do you think you’ll be successful?
Perhaps you should transition out of those friendships and start hanging out with people who embody what you’re trying to become.
You’ll probably find you just drift apart naturally, but you may have to just cut those negative people out of your life.