If you’ve been on the holistic health path for some time now — like I have — you’ve probably experienced a ton of growth and healing in various aspects of your life. Maybe you’ve improved your diet and sleep habits and notice that you have more energy. Or maybe you’ve started an acupuncture course and get colds less often now. Or it could be that a consistent exercise routine has improved your self-confidence. Who wouldn’t want to feel this great all the time, right? If you’re anything like me, you may be struggling with an issue I commonly come up against. It’s that just because we want to live a long and healthy life, doesn’t mean that everyone in our lives wants that for themselves, or more accurately, are not necessarily willing or ready yet to put in the effort and make the sacrifices/investments that a healthy lifestyle requires. I recently had a conversation with a couple of Pilates instructors — from Gold Line Pilates in Pasadena — about this topic, and realized I had some tips to share about how to navigate relationships with loved ones who aren’t exactly on the same page as you health-wise:
1 | Lead by example
This one is super easy. Just do your thing! When you spend time with your loved ones, stick to your daily health routines, whether that’s bringing your filtered water with you everywhere you go or ordering the healthful option out at restaurants. When your loved ones see how much vitality you have, paired with your healthy habits, they will have no choice but to notice the correlation there. Who knows? Simply watching you may be enough to inspire them to start making healthy changes in their life.
2 | Mix up the scenery
One great way of supporting others in getting healthy is to change up the scenery of your hang-outs. Do you normally meet with this friend or family member at a bar? Recommend bowling instead! Is your knee-jerk to go out to your old favorite restaurants (with less-than-optimal choices)? Pack a picnic instead. My favorite way to catch up with folks is to invite them for a walk around the Rosebowl. Walking is typically an easy enough exercise for any activity level and it still gives me a mild workout in the process.
3 | Be a listening ear
Our first instinct when wanting to encourage loved ones in improving their health is often to provide advice or to critique unhealthful choices. I know this pitfall well! Unfortunately, giving unsolicited consult can have the opposite effect we’re looking for. When people feel judged or scrutinized, their defensive walls begin to go up, making them less receptive to the feedback they're being given. Instead of doling out counsel, just be a non-judgmental ear and offer support, when it’s asked for. Try it out!
4 | Let go of control
At least for me, part of what makes it so frustrating seeing certain friends and family members not take great care of themselves is the false idea that “I know better.” But in reality, I don’t know what is best for everyone! It’s really tough to let go of the idea that “if only they listened to me, they would be so much [healthier/happier/fitter, etc.]” And yes, on a certain level, we are right. We know that mindful eating, moderate exercise and getting enough sleep are vital aspects of health and longevity. But at a certain point, in order to be truly free ourselves, we must let go of our desire to control the behavior of others. Easier said than done! Meditation helps with this.
5 | Look at your own fears
This one takes letting go of control to a deeper level. Start asking yourself why you feel the need to change others. Is it to reduce the suffering of your loved ones? Is it to prevent yourself from feeling the sadness and anger of a loved one getting sick and/or the grief of their potential untimely passing? I know these are difficult areas to explore. Be gentle with yourself. Grab a journal, if that helps, or pick up the phone and talk to a supportive friend about it. We all have unconscious fears that motivate our behavior. It’s normal! Just start becoming curious and aware of what comes up.
I hope these tips are helpful to you if you happen to be grappling with this particular concern. This has been an ongoing process for me and trust me, I’m still learning the “letting go of control” aspect of this journey. Now I’d love to hear from you! Are you on the holistic health wagon? Are you trying to proselytize the lifestyle to others? Did you used to preach and have come to peace with letting people move at their own pace towards wellness? Please share your thoughts/opinions/experiences in the comments below. I love learning from my community. Thank you for reading and be well. :)
about the author
Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.