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Deal with social pressure and use social support!

Now comes the test: a cosy party where many acquaintances and friends are walking around. You don't sit still, but you walk around and drink a glass of water instead of your usual drink. In short, you deviate from your old pattern. Then you hear the first remarks: "Don't be so unsociable" and "Tonight is a special evening". Because the new lifestyle doesn't feel very comfortable yet and you still feel a little uncomfortable, > Doubt enters your mind. One more remark like this, unfortunately, triggers you to abandon your good intentions.

Deploy social support

If we experience social support, we are more likely to show the behaviour that is supported. If the behaviour is disapproved, we think a second time whether we will show this behaviour again in the future.

So tell your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances what your plan is, share your motives and ask them for help. And you will get help! People are social beings. Even people who are critical probably want to help you. It is human nature to feel good when they can do someone else a favour. Just count on them to support you in making behavioural changes.

 

Plan together 

Achieving your goals becomes easier if you involve family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. To make the most of this, make a plan for this. Think about who has or can have a positive influence on your behaviour. You may find it difficult to ask for help. Start with the easiest ones, for example your partner or your best friend. Once you have done something like this, it becomes easier and easier to ask others. So pick up your list and your phone, or drop by, discuss your goals and together think about how you can use his/her help. Immediately plan concrete agreements together:

  • Put the candy jar out of sight.
  • Make a lunch walk together every Thursday evening.
  • From now on, go to work together by bike instead of by car.

Use modelling

We like to adopt the behaviour of role models, because we see them as an example. Children have a hand full of idols. As we grow older, we are less conscious of our role models. Yet for all of us there are people who inspire us, whom we look up to. These could be people around you, top athletes or perhaps one of your colleagues. As far as our lifestyle goals are concerned, we can learn a lot from these people. Think about who inspires you in your surroundings with regard to your lifestyle goals and start the conversation.

If we experience social support, we are more likely to (continue to) exhibit the supported behaviour. If the behaviour is disapproved, we think again about whether we show this behaviour again. So: tell your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances what your plan is, share your motives and ask them for help! People are social in nature, so even those who are critical will probably want to help you. It is human nature to feel good by being able to do someone else a favour. Just count on the people around you to support you in your behavioural changes.

Asking for support

In order to make the most of the support of your family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues, make a plan for this. Make a list of names of family members, friends, acquaintances or colleagues who could help you achieve your goals. These could be people with whom you associate a lot or like to associate. But also think of people who may not live near you, but who you regularly talk to on the phone, while travelling or when you are out and about. Then there are six steps you can follow:

Step 1: Ask the person you want to ask for support if it is a convenient moment. If needed schedule an appointment so that there really is time to talk and listen.

Step 2: Tell them, for example, that you have something on your mind and that you could use their help.

Step 3: Tell what your goals are and what makes it difficult to achieve them. Do this clearly and directly and don't talk about it.

Step 4: Tell what support you would like to get from the other person.

Step 5: Try to come to an agreement with the other person about this.

It is possible that your request for support will not or not immediately be granted. It may then help to clarify the problem further (step 2) and to explain why you are appealing to the person in question.

Author: Demi van Mulken & Nina de Rooij, PSV lifestyle coaches