Monday, July 6, 2009

True friends usually 'have your back'

I was touched last Monday when my friend Esther at Gratuitous Violins gave me a nice big shout-out in her theater blog. Esther enjoys her trips to New York's theater district as much as I enjoy my trips to the gym.

Now I didn't know how many of Esther's readers might be the least bit interested in the fact that her friend was starting a health and fitness blog — and I suspect there weren't many — so I thought it very nice of her to write about my new venture.

Her willingness to do it, unsolicited, got me to thinking about how important social support is when we undertake something new, such as getting in shape, eating more healthfully, quitting smoking, losing weight, or whatever it is we hope to do more or less of or just simply do.

I 'm sure we've all encountered negativity at some time in our lives, but there are some people out there who have elevated it to a lifestyle. You know the type — the ones who, after you've shared a dream or plan, let loose with comments like: "You'll never be able to finish that race." "What do you mean you're going to backpack through Europe? You'll probably be killed." "Nobody's hiring in that field anymore."

They reflexively stomp on ambition as if it were a cockroach.

I have a theory about why such people are that way: they're either lazy or afraid. Too lazy to better their own lives, or too afraid they'll fail trying.

So they become missionaries of misery, preaching the gospel of pain. If they can win enough converts to their view that the world is an uncaring, unjust and hopeless place, then none of us ever has to risk anything, because we're all screwed anyway.

When you think about it, it's really quite easy to be miserable. It's happiness that sometimes takes hard work.

So what can you do if you find your ambitions under constant assault from such people? Try to insert some distance if you can, and if that's not possible, just cover your ears and listen to your heart.

Like Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

It took me a while to learn that, but I get it now.


  1. Kathy, great post!! You have so eloquently expressed many of my thoughts. I have always had a problem understanding why people can't be HAPPY for other people. I've always just chalked it up to jealousy which eludes my understanding as well. It's not that I'm not sometimes a little envious but it never would cause me to not be happy or supportive of others. I dunno....but I love your blog and am now a follower! Come visit me when you have a minutes. Cheers!

  2. Love this post! You are so right about happiness being more difficult than misery! It takes a lot of effort to stay positive but it's so worth it!

  3. Thanks so much, Sandy! I'll come visit, for sure.

  4. And thanks to you, too, Trainer Shauna. I look forward to reading about the Soccer Mom weight loss program.

  5. Hey Kathy, the shout-out was my pleasure. You're off to a great start and I'm happy to share my tens of readers with you. And you know I have your back!

  6. Esther's post brought me here, a life-long non-athlete who coasted on her metabolism for forty-nine years. Can't coast anymore, so I take inspiration where I can find it!

  7. Welcome, Robin! I hope you've managed to find at least a little inspiration somewhere here.