You know that negative friend who calls you to complain about how bad her life sucks? The one who can’t wait to spread the misery, especially if it’s someone else’s? The one who makes you forget all the healthy things you did all day in favor of chips, cheese dip, and three margaritas, just so you can make it through dinner with her?
We all have that friend. And maybe you’ve even been that friend. (I know I came close during the wreckage that was my 20s.)
I know you know that negative people bring you down, emotionally and psychologically. But have you ever stopped to consider that your negative friends may also be keeping you from losing weight?
If you’ve been trying to lose the same amount of weight, over and over again for years, and you feel like you’ve gone on every diet imaginable, one of the main issues is that your perspective is now radically off.
If you’ve been dieting, you’ve naturally been failing — because diets don’t work. But the part worse than failing is that you’ve been blaming yourself for the failures. As a result, your confidence has slowly been drained, as has your motivation to make changes.
All of this creates a resigned, hopeless outlook and a feeling of being stuck. (I promise you, you’re not!) So what you need most of all is the polar opposite: a surge of energy and excitement to blast you out of the inertia that you feel.
But how do you get that?
The answer is that you have to do things that make you truly happy, which increases your joy, creativity, and enthusiasm. Which in turn compels you to start dreaming bigger and setting and achieving exciting goals. And all of that ultimately results in natural, effortless weight loss.
But you will never get any of that as long as you surround yourself with negative people.
I don’t think most of us realize just how much we are affected by others and their attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and talk. Intellectually we know, but the reality is that we don’t protect ourselves. The worst part is that we’re so used to being around the people that are sabotaging our success that we don’t even notice what’s happening. And the consequences can be far-reaching.
For example, your health. Your mental and emotional states, which are in large part determined by your surroundings, show up outwardly. Your body is a reflection of what’s going on inside you. So if your surroundings — including the people you spend time with — are negatively affecting how you think and how you feel, your health will suffer and you will never have the body you want.
So in addition to creating a black cloud that settles unnoticed around you, there are specific ways that your negative friend is keeping you from losing weight.
She has the wrong beliefs. Your negative friend believes and supports the false truth that losing weight is “hard.” Not only that, she wants you to commiserate with her about it. Even if you don’t necessarily agree, just listening to her repeatedly say this is enough to make it sink in.
Our tendency as women is to validate each other (future post on the way), so you’re not very likely to push back on statements like “This is just what happens as you age” and “It’s hard to find time to work out.” And if you verbally agree with it instead of challenging it, it will creep into your thoughts and settle there . . . and become your new reality.
She has bad habits. Why exactly does your negative friend think it’s hard to lose weight? Because she has habits that keep the weight stuck to her body. Your friend has to believe that losing weight is hard because of the lack of progress in her own weight-loss journey. And this lack of progress is likely the result of poor health-related habits.
When you spend time with people who have bad habits, is it easy for you to stick to yours or create better ones? No, it isn’t. And if you have bad habits and you don’t work on changing them, the natural thing to do is blame external circumstances for your lack of results instead of yourself.
If you consistently eat fried food and never work out, it’s a lot easier to blame it on age or lack of time. And your negative friend will be right there to validate all your excuses — and recruit you to engage in more bad habits.
She doesn’t want you to succeed. If you feel good about yourself and about your life, you want to help others feel the same. But your negative friend definitely doesn’t feel good about herself, so watching you succeed is excruciating for her. Plus, the better you get, the less you’ll want to spend time with her . . . and she knows this.
Therefore, it’s in your negative friend’s best interests to keep you down with her — and she’ll do whatever she can to make sure this happens. Remember that old saying: Misery loves company.
Ok, so now that you understand how truly destructive your negative friend’s presence is in your life, what can you do about it?
I know that since you’re such a good person and a good friend, you don’t want to cut someone completely off. But don’t worry, you don’t have to. There are subtle ways that you can make your negative friend a minimal presence in your life.
Your primary goal is to crowd her out. Be busy — preferably with something positive. (Your downer friend loves nothing more than to perch herself next to you to eat, drink, and gossip.)
Pick a healthy activity: do a yoga class, a hike, or a salsa class. Do something creative: take a writing class or a vegetarian cooking class. Be busy working toward a goal of yours: learning a foreign language, training for a triathlon, starting a new business.
Also, if she calls you, you don’t have to call her back. Send her a text instead. A negative friend is likely someone who’s a huge phone talker, and it’s really hard to hang up with someone who complains incessantly about her life and about how awful everything is.
You are not obligated to listen to this kind of crap, nor is it a requirement that you call her back in person. Shoot her a text, tell her you’re sorry you can’t talk, but you’re busy setting and achieving goals. Bye Felicia!
If you are stuck and have to spend time with her, invite someone positive to come along with you. Call someone who always has something kind to say, who has a great sense of humor, or who is actively pursuing big goals of her own. Warn her in advance what you’re dealing with, and recruit her to change the subject when the conversation veers off course into Misery Land.
I think it’s helpful to remember that people are unhappy for a reason. You never know what someone has been through, and it’s important to have compassion for people. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to let your habits and results suffer from subjecting yourself to a negative vibe when you don’t have to.
Don’t forget that even if you do everything right but you spend your time with everyone wrong, all your efforts will be a total waste.
Besides, you’re already up against the most negative voice in the universe — the one that lives inside your head. Make sure you don’t add to it.