I am currently reading an interesting book called, “The Psychology of Overeating.” In this book, author Kima Cargill talks about “help-rejecting complainers.” While asking for help, these folks simultaneously reject it. Or, they interpret it as a personal preference rather than scientific information that might apply to their behavior. Cargill goes on to say help-rejecting complainers can be difficult to work with because they view themselves as powerless victims and have trouble taking on the sense of agency necessary for therapeutic change.
I don’t think I’m alone in bumping into “help-rejecting complainers” along my keto journey. Whether it’s family members, co-workers, or long-time friends, I bet someone who has witnessed an inward and outward change in you has asked you what you’re doing differently. You no-doubt care about this person and may be aware of some health concerns they’ve been battling. So, you generously share your time and energy with them, explaining your keto lifestyle and what it’s done for you.
Some people may thank you for your investment in them with a response like, “Wow, you’ve given me a lot to think about,” or “I might give that a try.”
But, then there are the help-rejecting complainers.
They may have one or a combination of the following responses: “I could never do that,” “I tried something like that and it didn’t work for me,” “I have a very unique health situation you don’t have the medical expertise to understand,” “What you are doing is dangerous and irresponsible,” “This is just a fad. Your results will not be sustainable.”
No matter how sure you are the keto lifestyle is right for you, an interaction like that can make you feel like a deflating balloon. You weren’t trying to force your health habits on anyone. You were simply responding to their question with the sincerity of a once-thirsty human being showing another thirsty person where they can find water. Yet, you walk away from that interaction feeling vulnerable, hurt and maybe even a little depressed.
Whenever we spend time with someone, we usually “take away” something. We take away good rest the evening after we’ve played in the pool with the kids. We take away a welcome cheek-ache after we’ve shared some belly laughs with our friends over dinner. We take away a new spark of romance after a date night.
I want to encourage you with permission to dismiss your interactions with a help-rejecting complainer. You don’t need to take away anything from a discussion with them. Like an overpriced gift shop, full of stuff you have no real place for, stroll on out the double doors, without purchasing a souvenir.
Instead of focusing on not being a catalyst for change in their life, focus on what caused them to question you in the first place. You have experienced an inward and outward change. It’s a positive one, and it’s worth celebrating!
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