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How To Help An Obese Person - Compassion, Not Advice

How to Help an Obese Person

Compassion, Not Advice

By Freeman Michaels

When I was obese I saw myself in the mirror – I knew what was going on. I didn’t need people reminding me by putting diet books or nutrition articles in front of me – it wasn’t helpful. In fact, it really upset me. I felt fat and helpless – and I didn’t enjoy being constantly reminded of it. My wife was truly brilliant in the way that she approached the issue. Her empathy and compassion were what helped me through my fears and self-doubt to be able to truly address my weight. Now I have written a book, based on my own experience and process of releasing weight, called Weight Release: A Liberating Journey. My work is really helping people. But I am still often asked how a non-overweight person can broach this subject with family and friends who struggle with their weight. My short answer is “I don’t exactly know”. Obviously this is a very trick subject, so each person and situation is quite different. However, here are five things to keep in mind when guiding an overweight person towards material that might help them:

  • Be Considerate: Approach the topic gently. Offer the person some indication that you heard, saw or read something about the topic that you found interesting. Consider the persons feelings. If it feels as if the topic is too much for the person to discuss, back off.

  • Be Caring: Letting someone know that you care about them and that you are concerned is a wonderful introduction to any discussion about the issue. Be clear about why you are bringing the issue up. Don’t make the person wrong for being overweight – be empathetic and caring.

  • Be Strategic: Consider the time and place that you introduce the topic. Find a non-weight related subject that crosses over and influences weight – in my book I use a general personal growth process to address weight related issues, so it would be fairly easy to discuss one of the principles from the book in a different context then weight.

  • Be Intuitive: Trust your intuition and let it guide you. If the conversation drifts into another subject, trust that it will resurface again. Hold the intention (or thought) to be supportive and loving – let your inner wisdom guide you.

  • Be Forthright: Be real with the person and “show up” for the conversation. Look them in the eye and connect with them.

It is hard to approach this topic with a friend or family member without offending them. This is a very complicated subject. Much of what lies beneath weight issues relates to "self-judgment", so any attempt to help can be perceived as criticism. However, when someone is really ready for this material they tend to welcome it - if they are not interested or resistant than they will usually dodge the conversation. Always allow people the dignity of their own life journey, including the mistakes and challenges that each of us is bond to face. If you lead with love and compassion you will be offering a gift, even if the other person doesn’t recognize it.

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Tags: compassion, freeman, michaels, obese


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