You are growing, but it is making people around you feel threatened. Here’s how to deal with it.
How do you take your partner with you? How do you take your friends and family with you? How do you break out of the old and into the new, without triggering other people’s smothering strategies?
These are big questions, but questions we all have to face if we’re going to be committed to growth.
I started this with last week’s Truth-Bomb Tuesday. I suggested that the first thing that you do when you announce an intention to change (enrolling in one of my programs for example) is to give people’s emotions a chance to settle. Let them churn through a few expressions, until they find the one that actually fits.
Today, here’s step 2: Know what is yours
When you change and become someone better, happier, thinner whatever, you change the world you live in. You are creating a different reality, and everyone you are in contact with is now going to have a different reality as well.
The old you was part of your partners reality. When you change, your partner now has to deal with a new reality.
That can be challenging. It can be scary. It can feel unsafe.
These reactions are perfectly natural and need to be welcomed and worked with. These are the emotions I suggested we wait for in last week’s post.
But facing up to and owning these emotions takes real courage. It often takes time.
And one of the patterns that I’ve seen play out more than once is a pattern where someone tries to push their discomfort on to you.
So they correctly identify that they’re feeling challenged and uncomfortable, and they’ve correctly identified that it’s because you are changing. The mistake they make is to then say that this is ‘all your fault’.
That is true in a strictly causal sense, but not in a moral sense.
What you can see is that people can blame you for the discomfort they are feeling, and then backfill their blame in with some supposed moral transgression.
“Oh, you want to do one of Dymphna’s courses do you? You’re so materialistic. Money can’t buy you happiness you know.”
“Oh, you want to do one of Dymphna’s courses do you? Aren’t we good enough for you anymore? That’s your problem. You have no loyalty.”
Oh, you want to do one of Dymphna’s courses do you? You’re just paving the way to leaving me, aren’t you? I knew it. What happened to honour?”
None of these accusations hold much water, though that doesn’t stop them being hard to hear.
But what they are trying to do is make the problem yours. They’re dealing with their discomfort by pushing it on to you and making it your problem.
And that’s not fair.
So how do we respond?
The first thing I’d say is don’t dismiss them as “silly” or whatever, even if they’re carrying on like a pork chop. The person may have misdiagnosed the cause of their discomfort, but their discomfort is real.
A good first step is to just acknowledge that. “I can see that you’re alarmed by this. I just want to let you know that.”
Then I think it is good to be really clear about your intentions and why you are doing it. Keep bringing it back to that.
“I’m doing this so we can be financially secure and happy.”
If they challenge you on your motivations, just keep bringing it back to this.
If you are in your integrity, then it’s probably going to be very hard to argue with.
Not that they won’t try. They might twist themselves in knots in the process. Just let them burn their selves out on it.
Again, don’t get too caught up in what they are saying in the moment. If they are in their fear, then they probably can’t see that. Their fight or flight mechanisms have been triggered.
If you can just let it all wash over you in this phase, they will probably start to bring themselves around in time as their nervous system settles down, especially if you stand firm in your integrity, and don’t try to push them too hard.
But know what is yours. They will often try to push their discomfort on to you. Blame you. Make it all about you.
But this is just another one of fear’s strategies.
And it will blow itself out in time.
(Can you believe I’ve still got more to say about this. Look out next week for needs, strategies and flexibility.)