"Sup.port.ive: giving support; providing sympathy or encouragement; providing additional help or information." (dictionary.com)
I often hear clients say when they talk about making healthy changes - "My spouse/friends/parents/kids are very supportive." Which is great. It makes taking care of yourself a whole lot easier. But let's talk for a second about that word support. And what it means to be supported.
My husband has been very supportive of my decision to create health. In fact, he created his own health right along with me. But that doesn't mean there weren't and aren't times when I have to stand really strong on my own two feet and stubbornly advocate for what I need - usually for some alone time to recharge. Or a less cluttered house. Yes, being "supported" is a shoulder to cry on, or a cheering section in your corner. Yes, being supported is getting agreement to spend money on a food plan or gym membership. But sometimes being supported also means the "supportive" person has to make concessions. Sometimes being supported means your spouse/friends/parents/kids are willing to go to a different restaurant with a healthier menu, or serve healthier food at the holidays, or split up the household chores more evenly... or stay home with the kids while you take a break, see your friends or go work out. Sometimes, in addition to "support" we also need more compromise and sacrifice. Which is where the supportive rubber tends to meet the road.
Here is what I have learned. When you make a choice to create health. A serious choice. The kind of choice where nothing is getting over that wall - it is OK, and frankly it requires, receiving support - regardless of whether it is being offered. Especially when you are often someone who cares for everyone else.
It is OK to put yourself, and your health, first. It is OK to say "this is what I need," and then expect it. Everyone else will survive. They may or may not like it. They may or may not know what to do with this healthier, stand up for yourself, version of you at first. But they will get used to it. And they will be thrilled for you when you feel better, physically and about yourself. But until that happens, and in order for that to happen, there is no need to apologize or feel guilty about creating health. You plant your feet on the healthy side of the road and get DONE playing small.
I joke about how, but it wasn't so funny early on, when I first started going to yoga - I told my husband to think of it as my "tee time." I don't make him late for his tee time and he doesn't make me late for mine. Period. My husband is very supportive of my yoga "me time" twice most weeks, and understands that it is what I need to stay sane. There have been times where he has had to make sacrifices for that to happen. And I know more than once I have walked out of the house, yoga mat in hand, to the chorus of two crying kids and said "see ya." And I don't feel guilty about that at all. Any more than he feels guilty about going golfing or playing soccer or basketball, or whatever else he needs to stay sane and healthy.
I guess my point is that supportive goes both ways. And - as you seek to make positive change - the word "change" is still there. Even though someone wants to be "supportive" they may not want to change. Yet if they truly are, or want to be, supportive - change is part of the deal. And so sometimes to receive support, you need to stand strong and help someone walk the walk... or put their money where their mouth is... however you want to say it. And stick to your guns. In the end you will all be healthier and happier for it. How's that for a New Year's resolution? Instead of lose weight, "receive support." I like it! You have 30 days to think it over.
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