When you read articles about getting healthy and making positive developments in your life, they usually focus on enhancing your willpower to make behavioral changes, instituting new habits and replacing unhealthy actions with healthy ones. But few articles will tell you that the hardest part about any major life change may come from where you least expect it: your family and friends. Our social circles often bring great meaning to our lives, but sometimes our loved ones slip into a common human characteristic: selfishness. They want what is best for them, not for you.'
After a recent illness a few months back, I quit drinking alcohol 100 percent. I was poorly prepared for the backlash and confrontations I would encounter not only with my friends, but my family as well. To be fair - I have been quite the drinker in the past few years, a wine aficionado and the life of the party that you love to have around when you want to have fun. I work in the music industry, a business that is largely centered around going out at night to clubs and other music venues where alcohol is served.
When I started ordering glasses of water instead of bottles of beer or plastic cups of liquor, the admonitions began:
“Why aren’t you drinking?”
“Where is your beer?”
“I bought you a shot so you have to take it.”
“But it’s my BIRTHDAY!”
“You’re sober and it’s ruining my night.”
Along with abstaining from alcohol, I have recently made other healthy changes in my life, small steps like starting yoga, cutting down on sugar and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. I figured that my friends would support me as I turned over a new leaf, and many have – but there are just as many who prefer the former version of me.
But I can’t fault these friends – they are just being human and looking out for #1. I can no longer be their life of the party; I will no longer share wild drunken stories about last night or commiserate with two Advil in the morning. They fear they are losing a friend and a partner in crime, and in a way they are. I am much more likely to be found in 2013 at a yoga studio instead of an afterparty. Overall, it is a positive change in my life – but this positive change brought with it some negative social consequences that I was unprepared for.
As David Wong says in a Cracked article (6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person): “Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your jobless friends do not want to see you embark on a career.”
If you have set new resolutions for a healthier lifestyle lately and are dedicated to carving out a better space for yourself in the world, be prepared for some of those in your social circle to actively obstruct your new choices. Whether it is buying you a box of chocolates when you are on a new diet, egging you on to drink when you have quit, or persuading you to play hooky from exercise class, your friends may try to get the old “you “to return. Their actions are based on fear; make sure your reaction is based on love and a renewed commitment to your goals.