I’ve spent the last few weeks deep into some soul searching after some rough events made me question my role and my identity with where I am in life right now. I’ve put aside a few of my projects because I realized I needed some very deep work. I could no longer just read the books and mark the passages I like. I needed to take some time to integrate and process and act on the information. My relationships at home and at work were/are suffering and I really have to evaluate where my responsibility is and isn’t. When you people-please you tend to ignore your own needs and then feel disrespected when people don’t do the same for you. When you heal those patterns and set boundaries, they may react poorly. I struggled with taking offense to this. I had been very diligent in learning to take care of myself and to set goals and when I needed them to hold up their end, they were nowhere to be seen. A colleague brought up something I haven’t done a deep dive into yet: When we work on themselves it can trigger for them to do their own work—and a lot of people freak out with this.
Humans don’t adapt well to change—there are countless books on the subject from personal development, divorce, leadership challenges, coping skills, general life changes, and the list goes on. It’s no secret that our primal brains view any change as dangerous so we don’t like it. When those core people around us have defined who we are in their minds, any change we make throws them for a loop. Suddenly they question themselves and their environment because they don’t “know” how you operate now and they need to learn how to adapt to that. There are some who are open enough to this flow and accept your changes as the work you do and you are able to dance in the parameters of your new boundaries. Then there are some who can’t handle it and they engage in some challenging behaviors like reverting to old patterns or gaslighting because they reach their limit on changing themselves to meet the “new” you.
Depending on the relationship it may be appropriate to let this person go. If they are a drain or aren’t that close, does their opinion really matter? Let the dance take them away. If it is someone close to you and you value what you have with them, you may need to give them some space and you may need to have the tough conversation with them about your needs changing. Your values are allowed to change—we aren’t fixed beings. That’s the ironic part of dealing with change: we are meant to bend and adapt but we hate it and it makes us feel unsafe. Our very safety lies in the ability to go with it and we have to be secure enough in who we are to state, “This is what I need in this season of my life,” and accept the other person’s response. We are all catalysts on some level and we don’t operate in a vacuum and neither does anyone else. Know that what we do will cause a reaction in those around us.
The key at this point is to not let the reaction of others stop us from getting what we need. I’m not suggesting taking the “My way or the highway” mentality because that won’t get anyone anywhere regardless. If it’s a value-based decision and it’s important to you, then no one should stop you no matter what (unless there is harm to others). If it’s something you can compromise on, then that’s fine as well. But for those who refuse to move simply because they are stuck or comfortable, you may need to examine what the future looks like. Compatibility is a different story than fear of moving forward and it won’t resolve on its own. Bottom line, just don’t be surprised that there is a reaction to the work you do. We all create ripples in our lives just through the act of living. Sometimes you are the ripple and sometimes you are the mirror. Accept it all and allow it because someone will be the mirror for you too some day. Be patient and work with it.