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Day 26. Teething In Change With Your Loved Ones Part 1

You are going through some changes. You’re evolving, and that is naturally going to cause you to feel uncomfortable at times, not because the changes you are making are ‘bad’ but because you are stretching out of your comfort zone. Don’t conflate discomfort around change with the validity of what you’re doing. 1. Don’t own other people’s insecurity and responses to your change. It’s not unusual when we make changes, for people to experience differences in us or for them to be afraid of what the changes will mean for them. This means that some people’s responses will not actually be due to something you’ve said or done, but more due to their perception of themselves in the eyes of your newly changed self, or how they perceive your changes are likely to affect them. In some instances, particularly if they are passive-aggressive and aggressive, their response is about how they perceive you to now be seeing yourself in light of your changes. And that is… projection and treating you as a threat when you’re not. Someone who engages in unfair and unreasonable behaviour is bound to consider your changes’ unreasonable’ because it’s inconvenient. It’s highly likely that if anything, you’ve been behaving unreasonably to you in the past. If in doubt, remember to crosscheck with the class on unfair and unreasonable behaviour. If what constitutes being ‘unreasonable’ actually amounts to, ‘[You] will no longer comply and allow me to take advantage of or even abuse him/her’, you are not being unreasonable. If you’re experiencing recriminations due to somebody no longer being able to control your emotions and behaviour by force, again, you are not being unreasonable. It is, in fact, they who are being unreasonable. 2. Let people you care about into the changes that you’ve been making with some key reasons why and the primary benefits. Don’t tell them to gain agreement or validation; giving them a little insight into the changes you’ve been making is an assertive means of clarifying who you are, any shifts they may have noticed, and letting them know that what you’re doing is about you, not about them even if some of these people may have inspired your desire to change. Example: I’ve been doing a great deal of reflection over the past while. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but after the breakup/redundancy/ that experience with X, I went through a difficult time that’s resulted in me making some really positive changes and learning a hell of a lot about me too. I’ll admit I’m a bit of a ‘pleaser’; I worry too much about everyone’s opinions, I limit myself out of fear, I overload myself with stuff because I don’t know how to say no, and I wage war on myself with comparison. I’ve not been happy / as happy as I’ve made out and that’s down to me to address this. The consequences of me being a pleaser are that I may be high on people’s lists for who will do stuff, but I don’t really like myself very much. At times I have felt so desolate, and I have experienced depression. I’m taking steps to address my assertiveness. I’m going to continue being me, but I’m going to develop the ability to step up for me. I feel lighter already, I’ve been sleeping better, I’m finally putting some stuff from the past to rest, and I’m taking command of me. Who can argue with that?
  • You let them know that you’ve been through a difficulty.
  • You acknowledge what you discovered about you.
  • You provide examples of what you mean that highlight your struggles instead of focusing on other people’s behaviour.
  • You outline the negative effects on you of what you’ve been doing.
  • You outline the benefits of the change.
  • You let them in on some of the positive effects you’ve already experienced.
  • You don’t ask for their permission.
Only someone who feels threatened by these changes will take issue. That’s not you, that’s them. Don’t own that. 3. Don’t become a preacher or evangelist. If there’s going to be a source of conflict and criticism, this is actually the most likely source. Often, when we feel enlightened, we want our friends and family who aren’t enlightened to share in that enlightenment and make their own changes. Next thing, we’re telling them that their ex is an assclown or inadvertently chastising them. We mean well but we’re getting carried away. As the saying goes, when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear… or the meaning of the lesson will become apparent. Lead by example, not by being in their face. A person who already feels inadequate will mistake what you’re doing for superiority and feel even more inadequate. 4. Let your parents (and siblings if applicable) or any other family members do their thing even if it’s not yours. Yes, I’m sure some of them could do with making changes, but there comes a point when you have to ask why you’re not putting the energy into your own changes that you are into theirs. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned: If family want to be effed-up, they’ll be effed-up no matter what you do. You’re just not that powerful. I’m living proof that you can have a family with a catalogue of effed-up behaviour (and I do mean some seriously effed-up stuff) and get on with your own life. You are breaking a cycle in your life. That’s what matters. Healing family doesn’t always or very often look like everyone changing and growing in tandem or everyone having their come-to-Jesus moment. Often, it’s more subtle yet powerful healing that stems from family members like you breaking their own cycle, which is healing to past and future generations of the family. You are not carrying forward what was passed to you. It’s also safe to say that you don’t always know the positive effects of what you’re doing because you might be on the lookout for something specific and so miss the wood for the trees, but also because you might be more focused on now or the near-future without thought for how things shift and change over time and on their own beat. You don’t know what’s up ahead.  5. No one has to agree with you, and that includes blood relatives, friends, and romantic partners. It is OK to disagree and keep this in mind as your newly boundaried self. Don’t focus on one being wrong and the other being right. Agree to disagree. Own your own and let others own theirs. If they disagree with your boundaries, again, instead of trying to convince and convert, agree to disagree and ensure that you are boundaried enough that they cannot continue to cross them. 6. Give the changes you’re going through a chance to take hold. Yes, it’s going to feel uncomfortable at times as you teethe in your new boundaries but don’t focus on the short-term discomfort or the immediate gratification of dispelling tension by not having boundaries; focus on the bigger picture. What you do now has a great deal of bearing on where you will be in a few months. What you do some or all of the time matters more than what you do occasionally or rarely. Crack on with having boundaries, and you will experience the cumulative effect of treating you better as well as protecting the integrity of your relationships. 7. Be yourself consistently, and they will get used to it. But do recognise that if you have some unhealthy relationships, they may not survive your changes, or they may need to go their own way for a time, lick their wounds, and return behind your line. Make sure that if and when they ‘come back’ that you’re still the same boundaried person.

The TAKEAWAY

  • Other people’s responses are mostly about themselves as well as habit and pattern.
  • People don’t like to be ‘inconvenienced’ by having to think or having to adjust themselves. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to happen though.
  • Explain, don’t justify.
  • Don’t become The Accidental Preacher. Let the changes flow through you. Be the change you seek.
  • Live and let live… and be boundaried. If you know your line, others know it too. They can still be their badass selves if they want to but just without including crossing your boundaries in it. It’s like, I know I used to allow you to go into the front room, but now you can’t. It’s my house, and I live here, OR Yes I know you used to just come up in here with your muddy shoes and walk all over my house but I’ve laid down new carpets and made some changes, so from now on, take off your shoes. 
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day. It would be nice if one use of boundaries solved your entire life, but no, a boundary isn’t just for special occasions; it’s for life.
  • People will not know how serious you are until you’ve consistently shown up as a more boundaried version of you. You (and they) need to know that you’re not a one-hit-wonder and that you’re in this boundaried life for the long haul.

    JOURNALING: How do you feel about being OK with the uncertainty of not knowing exactly how people are going to react and having to trust in the process by trusting that as you continue to act in a boundaried way, that things will get better over time?

    TASK: Put together a short explanation using the outline provided in #2. Read it back to you a few times and read it any time that you’re in doubt about what you’re doing – you might find it useful to put it on a Post-It and stick it somewhere prominent or put it on an index card that you can reach for easily. This is self-validation plus should you be in a situation where you want to try to unruffle some feathers, you will have a ready-made explanation that is known to you.

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