Are you dieting? Have you noticed that everyone has advice about the best ways to stop? The advice-givers also think they know best for people who are trying to quit smoking or stop drinking. For example, Tammy is dieting again. She’s tried losing weight before, even succeeded, but has always gained it back. This time she’s more determined. Her friend Helen says she knows best. She tells Tammy that she must eat big meals to celebrate every small success, like when she loses a few pounds. If Tammy follows her advice, Helen will know that Tammy is really her good friend.
You’ve seen the same pattern when smokers push cigarettes on a friend who’s trying to quit. Or when a drinker gets upset and pushes drinks on a friend who’s trying to stop drinking.
Is Helen really Tammy’s friend? Does Helen have Tammy’s best interests at heart? Should Tammy listen to Helen’s advice?
Of course there are many more difficulties to losing weight, quitting smoking or stopping drinking, but I want to focus on this one part of the total effort.
We could easily say that people who want to lose weight shouldn’t listen to the Helens in the world, people quitting smoking shouldn’t listen to supposed friends who tempt them with cigarettes, and people trying to stop drinking shouldn’t accept free drinks from pushers.
But I’d like to show you how to use the Nine Circles of Trust technique in this situation. Instead of trying to answer questions about whether Helen is a true friend, Tammy simply started listing what anyone would have to do to move from the distant ninth circle, into the eighth circle closer to her, or closer still into the seventh circle, and even into closer circles. The closer Tammy allows them to come, the more likely she is to listen to their opinions or advice.
During this listing, Tammy realized that she didn’t want to allow into her personal space, anyone who pushes food on her, whatever their reasons, excuses or justifications. Even if they threaten Tammy with the loss of a so-called friendship, her commitment to her diet comes first. If Helen continues to push food down Tammy’s throat, Tammy must get Helen’s opinion out of her face. That may mean getting Helen out of her space.
Tammy says she’s open to people expressing an opinion on which diet worked best for them. But she’s not willing to listen to people trying to tempt, seduce or coerce her into doing what they may think best if it violates Tammy’s goals or standards. She won’t accept relentless arm-twisting from Helen. You can read more about what Tammy does in my book, “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks.”
Of course, most of us can be politely non-committal when someone offers a little friendly advice … one time. We can easily ignore the suggestion if we want, and they don’t push their opinions or standards repeatedly. But relentless bullying by people who think they know best and try to force us or emotionally blackmail us is different.
One key to the success of the Nine Circles process is that it shifts the focus from abstract discussions of friendship and trust, and converts them into your taking charge of the specific actions (and opinions) that you’ll allow in your personal space.
Imagine how the Nine Circles method would work for someone trying to quit smoking or stop drinking. Since many dieters, smokers and drinkers have internal, self-bullies that try to prevent them from taking charge of their space, personalized coaching and consulting is usually necessary.
Read 20 different case studies demonstrating how to stop overt and stealth bullies in my book, “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks.” You’ll also see how a woman resists a verbally abusive, coercive and intimidating husband in “Bullies Below the Radar: How to Wise Up, Stand Up and Stay Up.”
A general question to ponder: should you blindly follow relationship advice from your massage therapist who has been in an endless series of one night stands after four failed marriages? Or should you blindly follow spending directions from your orthopedic surgeon who thinks the only worthwhile activity in life is Scuba diving in New Zealand? How being assaulted by parenting advice from people whose children are selfish, arrogant, obnoxious and don’t respect them?
These people may have expertise in one area of life, but they don’t know best about other areas – especially for you. If you continue to allow their opinions into your space, it’s like allowing them to continue to stick pins in your body. Eventually, the insult and pain will wear you down.
Instead, use the 9 Circles of Trust exercise to decide what standards are yours and what opinions to let into your space.
Where else could you benefit from the 9 Circles of Trust process?