You are brave enough to want a true version of yourself, but can you act on it?
If you decide that a change is what you want, it’s going to bother some people. They might not say it, or directly show it, but they will get pissed.
They know you as you are now and how you’ve been, and now you want to go and change all of that. Shame on you.
Whether it’s being overweight, out of love, wanting a new career, or not wanting to drink as much (or at all), you changing impacts others.
Many people deep down want you to be happy, but only if it is at little cost to them. How many times has somebody said to you something like “Hey, I want to try ….” and your first, secret, dark, shameful reaction is “How is this going to affect me?”
I’m not saying it’s fair, or abnormal, it’s just a reaction. But if a person is doing all of this hard work and trying to be a better person shouldn’t others care? Or at least be really, really interested?
If you went on a trip to Africa and had an amazing time, and the weekend after you were back, you had a party with all of the people in your life, how would most conversations go that evening? To be honest, the whole scenario sounds pretty pretentious to me and I would not be caught dead at this type of party, but I’m using to exaggerate the situation. Think about the range of reactions that people might have to hearing stories of your vacation.
There would be a few that were genuinely interested, some who wouldn’t really care, and the vast majority would listen just waiting for you to finish your story about the safari all the while formulating a counter story in their head and then jump in just as the second the last syllable flies out of your mouth. “Oh yeah, cool. Well, last year, my wife and I were in India. It was amazing. And the….”
We’ve all had that conversation. And let’s be honest, we’ve probably been the person coming up with the “yeah but” India like story at some point in our lives.
When we hear about others doing new stuff, changing, exploring the world or themselves, there is a trigger in our brains that makes us instantly look at our lives. It can bring up a primordial reaction to defend ourselves. We feel that if somebody has done something, I need to defend my doings. I’m a doer too. See. Look. Hey, listen to me.
Courage is like gold: when you have it, you’re rich and when you don’t, you want it. You doing something, anything actually, to positively impact your life takes courage. Loads of it.
And this characteristic threatens others. It makes others look at their lives. And in many cases, they don’t like what they see. Or they don’t like what is lacking. And their discomfort and their reaction to your actions is often sent back to you in the form of negativity, avoidance and mockery.
But here is something to keep in mind: A person’s personal change is not about anybody else other than themselves.
And when we feel threatened because we’re not losing weight or going to Africa, we forget that it has nothing to do with us. It is all about their own unhappiness and inaction in their own lives. If I’m not drinking and my friends are annoyed or even distant, it’s not at me. It’s really at themselves.
Either way, we seem to be really good about making other people’s actions all about us.
So what if we take this one step further. If other people’s reactions to your change is getting in the way of your change, can you consider the following: The reason that you are having difficulties being your true self is the same reason that got you into your current situation; you’ve been trying to please people all along. You have a history of not saying no to things that you really don’t want to do. You do it because others want you to.
But now that you want a change, people around you are getting weird, pissed, rude and really uncomfortable with it. So what do you do?
You stay the same. You keep the status quo.
You’re back to pleasing them, but not yourself. The same diet, drinking habits, job you hate, life style that is slowly killing your soul (and perhaps your body as well), and/or the same relationship that you’ve not cared about for years. They’re happy, but you’re still struggling.
And just like always, your change has a pin in it.
Getting past others
I know we’re taught not be selfish, but guess what? It’s time to be selfish.
When I really wanted to stop drinking, I had to come to terms with the fact that:
- I wasn’t responsible for how others react. I know their bad moods, strained and/or potential loss of relationships will create strife in my life, but what’ more important: their approval or my health? Their approval or my happiness? That friction in my mind, that tingling sensation that went off every time I did that behaviour that I was trying to change but not doing it, that was me not believing in that behaviour anymore. That was me doing it for the wrong reasons. So if I didn’t believe in it, and I wanted to stop but wasn’t, I asked myself: What does this behaviour serve? Does it serve an old belief or perhaps another person? Can I let go of this?”
- This new change that I was entertaining is going to take courage. Courage in the face of the naysayers in my head, and sadly, around me. Years ago in one of my first yoga classes, one of the women in it dropped out only a few classes in. I had gotten to know here a little bit and after a few weeks of not seeing her at class, I ran into her in a book store. We recognized each other but I could tell she didn’t want to talk or at least felt awkward but I had just gotten into line behind her and we had no choice. I asked her where she’d been. She said that she had quit because her husband didn’t want her to take yoga. Afraid that she’d change too much. I could see in her face that she was embarrassed and not really proud of what had just come out of her mouth. I honestly didn’t know what to say.
A definition of courage that I’ve heard and liked is that courage is action in the face of fear.
Change needs courage.
So what’s the fear in the way of you being your true self?