I know you mean well when you tell your family and friends that you want to change your life. From switching jobs or careers, to getting in shape and living healthier, it’s great to continually work to better your life. But sometimes those we hold closest to us are the ones who are also affected by our changes. Your spouse, children, or even your best friend can be affected because your relationship with them may change since you’re changing yourself. Here’s some insight into how your loved ones feel, why they may not be supportive, and what you can do to better your relationships and continue with your changes.
When you tell your friend or relative that you want to change your life in a big way, they’re first instinct may be fear. People see change as a threat to the familiar. Your loved ones enjoy the relationship they have with you and don’t want that relationship to change if you change. They feel good with you as you are, and any change you may undergo is seen as a threat to that. Their being defensive comes from a place of love.
Some people think of themselves as a protector to you. These people want you to examine this change from all angles before you dive into it. It may seem like they aren’t being supportive but they aren’t trying to stop you, they’re just trying to get you to think critically before deciding how to move forward. Some protectors are just protective. They’ve been where you are and want to help you avoid some of the mistakes they made earlier in their lives. You may think they’re being critical or unsupportive, but they just want you to weigh to pros and cons before you move forward. Try not to be defensive and take what they say to heart, they mean well. Other protectors are overprotective. They want you to succeed but can’t stand to see your hurt, in pain, or even failing at something you’re excited about. These people seem unsupportive because their love gets in the way of letting you learn and explore. These people mean well also, but are unsupportive because they’re afraid of the negative results you may encounter on your journey.
What you can do
The most important thing you can do is to show your loved one empathy. Think of how your friend feels if you’ve always met them for Friday drinks and now you’re going to use your Friday nights to hit the gym. Inviting that friend to the gym is okay, but your friend may see that as a sign that you think they need to change, when you’re really just trying to include him or her into your new life and new plans. People may see your change as saying that your before wasn’t good enough, which means they weren’t good enough. I know that’s not what you’re saying, so take the time to support your friend and show them love. Explain how you feel and where you’re coming from, and how your relationship with them will only be stronger as a result of your change.
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