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By Dr. Alexa Altman
If you have made the decision to begin exercising, modifying eating behaviors and creating a healthier life style, congratulations! Have you noticed that not all of the people in your life are as excited about this decision as you may be? As social beings we are intricately involved in a complex social system that includes predictable expectations, roles, behaviors and styles of interacting. Basically, the people in our life learn to expect and rely on us to be who we have always been. This is an important concept to acknowledge as you continue to forge ahead with your weight loss because your social environment can further reinforce or sabotage your efforts. The objective here is to learn to identify, prepare and protect yourself from those in your environment that maybe intentionally or unintentionally jeopardizing your health and wellbeing.
Let's begin with some basic questions to identify who and what may be negatively impacting your weight loss efforts. After each question write the initials of the person(s).
What do you notice? Is your life full of sabotaging? Are there other ways that people in your life negatively impact your efforts? What happens to you in response to this kind of behavior? How do you protect yourself? Do you set limits or use boundaries?
What is a boundary? A boundary protects us emotionally and physically. We have all had the experience of someone getting a little too close and rubbing up against our physical boundary or personal space. Our body usually lets us know when our boundary is being violated, we get uncomfortable and we want to move away. Emotional boundaries are similar in that they also protect us from unwanted intrusion. When we have good boundaries there is often a sense of feeling protected or safe in the world. What do poor emotional boundaries look like?
When an emotional boundary is violated by abuse, criticism, humiliation, neglect people often experience difficultly feeling capable or entitled set a boundary. As you can see, life can feel more threatening with poor boundaries.
Experiment this week:
Experiment with observing times when you react automatically to people in your life. Are there times when you communicate yes when you really want to say no? How does it feel when this happens? What do you do with the feelings that arise as this happens? Are you willing to experiment with some other ways of responding? What do you think would be the worst case scenario if you were to say no? This is an opportunity to learn how to best care for yourself.