Rearranging the Puzzle Pieces

Last week, I wrote about the most important relationship you have in your life: the one with yourself.

However, no one exists in a vacuum. We all have people in our lives that we connect with. We are a piece of someone else’s life. We get comfortable with how we fit with one another, like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Have you ever noticed that when you start making changes for the better, other people in your life sometimes gripe at you about that, rather than being supportive?

We’ve all done it, at one time or another. Sometimes we do it when we don’t even mean to, when we don’t have any jealously or fear pushing us. Even if we’re happy that they’re trying to make a positive change, sometimes we wish they’d find a different way. For example, when we were still married, my now ex wanted to go low/no carb for health reasons.

I hated the idea.

I love fruits and vegetables. Don’t tell me that they aren’t good for me. Since he did need to make a dietary change of some kind, and it wouldn’t kill me to be healthier, I gave it a try.

Here’s what I discovered: my body despises a low/no carb diet. For me, eating that much fat makes me feel sluggish and unhealthy. It can even make it harder for me to breathe. Eating that little fiber makes other systems shut down. Out of emotional craving and physical necessity, I went and got some whole grain bread, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, celery, and lettuce, just for me.

He couldn’t stay out of them and asked me not to buy them again. Next time I went to the store, I skipped the bread, but got vegetables. He still couldn’t stay out of them. Frustrated now, he asked that I stop sabotaging him. Frustrated myself, I told him that if I wasn’t buying any vegetables, then I wasn’t buying toilet paper anymore, either.

He didn’t have to eat the vegetables and whole grain bread. He chose to do that. It’s not like I came home with pastries, doughnuts, cookies and ice cream. I wasn’t trying to sabotage him from eating healthier, but I was making it much more difficult for him to follow his chosen diet.

Sometimes people try to sabotage you for much more sinister reasons than their own constipation. When you try to make positive changes, sometimes people try to tear you down for psychological reasons. Maybe they are afraid you’ll achieve more than they have. They are jealous of the idea of your success. They don’t want you to have more money and more free time because they want more money and more free time, and they don’t have those things. They don’t want you to be happier because they want to be happier, and they aren’t. If you try what you’ve always wanted to try and succeed, they feel like that reflects poorly on them. They feel like an idiot for not facing their own fears. Sometimes they even try to make you feel guilty for making them feel bad about themselves.

Guess what?

That’s their problem. Not yours.

Your problem is how to succeed despite their efforts. If you’re changing yourself for the better, do what you must do. They’ll find a new way to fit into your life. And if they can’t find a new way to fit into your life, or if they don’t want you to succeed?

Perhaps they shouldn’t be in your life in the first place – or at least, not very much.

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