Unsupportive Family

How do you deal with family and friends who don’t support your journey to make peace with your body?

Hi, I’m Nicole C. Ayers.. Welcome to the Love Notes to My Body Community Chat. Today I want to talk about another question I’m often asked, which is: I’ve decided to make peace with my body and to be more accepting of my body just as it is, and I have some really unsupportive family and friends who just don’t get it, who don’t get me. So how do I deal with that?

Oh, that is heavy. And that is hard because when we are trying something new, we are told we need to seek support and that’s what helps us be successful. W e want the people who are supposed to love us best to be supportive of us. And sometimes they just can’t be.

So what do we do then? How do we that? The first thing that I want to offer you is to let yourself grieve and even be angry [00:01:00] that they are not giving you what you need. If they’re not being supportive or if they’re even being oppositional, or they’re being really harmful to you in some way, let yourself grieve that it hurts and it probably pisses you off.

It’s okay. Have those feelings. Let yourself be with those uncomfortable feelings and use your healing modalities to help you move through that.

Now, after you given yourself time to grieve– that grief might come in waves; it’s not going to probably be a one and done sort of deal– but after you give yourself some time to be with the hurt, keep telling yourself that this is them and not you.

You don’t need to villainize a loved one who can’t support you. You just have to look at the bigger picture. And if they can’t be supportive of you, especially around something about your body, it is most likely because [00:02:00] they are dealing with their own trauma and wounds about their own bodies. They have all kinds of internalized beliefs that they’re projecting onto you, or they want to keep you safe. And so their way to keep you safe is try to make you conform to society’s beauty standards. Right? That’s all. But that’s where we’re coming from. And unless you start to untangle from all of those beliefs and do the work yourself, it might be hard to support someone who’s doing that work.

So if you can draw yourself out into the bigger picture. This is really not anything to do with me. This is their own garbage. And then maybe grieve that and be angry at that. Not only for your sake, but for theirs.

And then I would say seek support elsewhere. If your best friend can’t give you that support, could you find a support group online? Or could you start, um, is there a coworker who is on board with you that you could start having these conversations with? Or send [00:03:00] me a DM or find somebody that you can talk to about the things going on, on your journey.

So that’s the biggest thing. Let yourself feel your feelings. And then remember, however your family feels about your is not your concern. You and your body are your concern and that is it. And then get some support elsewhere if you can.

But what do we do in practice? Let’s say we have to go to a family dinner or some kind of reunion or gathering, or we have a friends group that’s getting together. What do we do?

Well, the first thing to do is figure out what your own boundaries are. What are you no longer willing to put up with? I’m going to use weight here or talk about dieting as an example, just because that’s a really common one. Let’s say you’re no longer willing to participate in conversation about your weight or about dieting.

So that’s very clear in your mind that is your boundary. Communicate that to your people. Ideally, you’re going to tell them this [00:04:00] in a calm, peaceful time before it becomes an issue, and maybe they’re not even talking, you know, you’re talking about something else and you could say, “Hey, just so you know, I am no longer interested in having conversations around my weight or dieting.”

Then you change the subject and you move on. That would be ideal. If you can prep people ahead of time, that’s great.

I will tell you, you will probably have to remind people repeatedly about your boundaries that may not be in the cards for you though. So you may be at this gathering and someone starts to talk about your weight or about dieting or things like that.

So what do you do when it’s in the moment? Offer yourself a ton of grace and compassion. If it feels safe to you speak up and say, “I’m not going to talk about this anymore” and change the subject. And so I say– excuse me– prepare yourself ahead of time. Have a couple of [00:05:00] topics that you can switch the subject to so that you’re ready.

So be prepared. Be like, “I’m not going to talk about my diet today or I’m not dieting anymore. And I don’t want to talk about it. Hey, how about the weather? How about the new construction going on?” But have some sort of plan in place.

If that doesn’t work or if you get scared and aren’t ready to step into that conversation, you can just have an exit strategy.

Your exit strategy could be like, “Excuse me, I need to go to the restroom.” Your exit strategy could be like, “Oh, all of a sudden I feel really sick and I need to leave.” Both are appropriate. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. And then just give yourself so much love and grace and compassion.

And if you have a boundary and you promised yourself this was going to be the time that you stuck to it and you took up for yourself and then you didn’t, give yourself some grace, because [00:06:00] this is a practice and it takes time. And it hurts when our loved ones don’t love us in the way that we need them to.

So just know that I am here for you, and that you are worth every boundary that you need to set for yourself around your body image. And that it can be, this can be a lonely journey if you’re the first person in your friend group or in your family to start making peace with your body, but it will be so worth it.

And I promise you, when people see you at peace with your body, they’re going to want some of the magic that you have. All right. Take good care. Bye.