A friend talked with me recently about how to deal with negative surroundings in order to move in a positive direction to accomplish the goals she has set. While most of us can rely on family and friends as a support network to help us achieve our goals, that is not always the case.

Have you ever thought (or experienced) that those closest to you are the most resistant to you working on changing for the better and move forward to a more rewarding life? Sometimes, when you are committed to personal growth and positive change, family members or close friends will do everything they can to try and get you to change back to the way you were---even when the way you were was below your expectations or desires.

If you’ve had the misfortune to experience this, have you wondered why? For one thing, when people are used to their lives being a certain way, any change-even when it is an improvement-can be perceived as threatening. It is also fairly common for people who are stuck in negative habits or thought patterns to have difficulty tolerating others who are making positive steps toward change.

If you can convince those closest to you, family or friends, to be part of your support group and join you in your quest for personal growth, everyone will have an easier time. You can support each other through the tough times and give each other encouragement and approval as you begin to see results. However, if you have to go through it alone, you have a challenge and will need to make some tough decisions.

The first step is to let your significant others in on what you are trying to do, and let them know how positive results will benefit them as well as you. Paint them a vivid word picture of what the end-result will look like, and ask for their help in achieving it. If you get buy-in, everyone wins.

If you don’t get their support, be patient. It can take time to convince them that you are serious, and that you intend to stay close to them even though you are making positive change. However, negative people can have difficulty accepting that someone close to them is moving forward. They become frightened, discouraged and frustrated, and can intensive their efforts to tear down what you’re trying to accomplish and only become happy when you stay at their level.

At some point it may come to a difficult choice between continuing a painful relationship versus developing yourself as a person and moving forward to accomplish your goals. We hope you don’t have to make this choice,butthere may come a time that you will have to distance yourself from the negative influence that may, at least partially, be holding you back. Remember that you always have the right to choose personal and professional growth without guilt.