It seems like the definition of friends and family would be “people who have your back, no matter what.” Sadly, that’s not often how it feels when they say things like:
- “I don’t know why you married that man”
- “Don’t leave your job! You’ve got benefits and security!”
- “I know you said you’re on a diet, but do you want to split the brownie sundae?”
- “You can’t make a living from Art. You should get a business degree.”
- “Can’t you just take mom to all her doctor appointments since you don’t have a job?”
- “Oh, I didn’t parent you with all this cotton and organic stuff and you turned out fine.”
Today you’ll learn the 4 reasons friends and family are unsupportive and my top 5 tips for handling them like a pro so you can walk away feeling calm and confident.
But Why are They Unsupportive, Abby?
#1 They want to keep you from pain. They’re negative and shooting things down because they love you and they’re trying to keep you from failing or having pain in your life. It’s their way of saying they’re afraid for you. They want what’s best for you and think they know what you need to ultimately have a happy life. They don’t want to see you sad or upset so they don’t support any decisions or thoughts you’re having that don’t line up with what they think will make you happy in the long-term.
#2 They don’t want to worry about you. They want to feel at ease about what you’re doing so they don’t have to worry about you. They try to control you and direct you to the options they think are best. This is when your mom is pushing you to get married even though you’re unsure because, to your mom, being married means safety and security and once you’re married off, she’ll exhale a sigh of relief.
#3: They see your actions as a reflection on them. This comes up mostly with parents and siblings, but I’ve also seen it with partners and friends. Living a certain way, looking a specific way and making particular life choices are important to those around you because they think it’s a reflection on them. Your parents don’t support you having a child if you’re not married because of how they think others will perceive them (although they say they’re worried about how others will perceive you)! Your friend is vocal and negative about your choice of style because they don’t want to be seen out at the club with you looking like that.
#4: They’re jealous. You might not be supported because a friend or family member is jealous of a decision you’re making because they unconsciously wish they could do what you’re doing! This drives them to shoot down or dismiss what you’re doing so they don’t have to deal with their own feelings and actions.
The 5 Things to Do if Your Friends or Family are Unsupportive
Tip #1: Don’t look for approval
The biggest problem is looking for approval. The only person in the whole wide world who needs to approve of what you’re doing is you. When you look to your friends and family to approve of what you’re doing, you’re setting yourself up.
Tip #2: Set them up for success
Start any conversation with what you want. What are you looking to get from this person? How do you want this conversation to end? Set the other person up for success by being clear about what you want before you share.
Tip #3: Be mindful of what you share
If you have someone in your life who cannot seem to be anything but unsupportive, I would ask you to start thinking about what you’re sharing with this person. Why must you share this piece of your life?
Tip #4: Find other resources
Instead of sharing certain things with your usual friends and family, build your own support network.
Tip #5: Make the cut
When family members aren’t supportive, I lean towards not sharing certain things with them. When friends aren’t supportive I think it’s a different issue. My big question is: why are these people your friends!? No matter what, you need to feel your friends have your back first. Really look at these relationships and ask yourself some hard questions about why you’re keeping these relationships alive if you’re continually not getting what you need.
I want you to listen my loving kindness guided meditation. Then, listen to it every day, for one week and watch the changes happen. As you become more peaceful, compassionate and loving, not only will your inner critic become muted, but your life will open up in new ways.