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Hey, Don't Change!!

There you are, making the announcement to someone in your life that either directly or indirectly spells out major changes. You may be telling them because the change itself requires them to do something differently or you may feel that by revealing your plans you are sharing an important decision about your future.

Sometimes, though, what you had hoped would be a ground-breaking moment or something new and exciting turns into misunderstanding, arguments and even alienation from someone who you would otherwise have believed was there to support you.

Understanding what impact your announcements about personal change may have will help you to avoid these situations and get the encouragement you feel you need, or at least avoid the distraction of having to work around another person just to get to your future self!

Here are some common possibilities as to why there is resistance from those close to you, and what they may be thinking:

"I'm afraid that if you change something about yourself, you will expect me to make the same changes or something equal and I don't know if I want you deciding that for me."

Let the other person know that the role they play in your life, and the life they lead is unlikely to change and you're not expecting that - let them know all of the things you like about the way they are now.

"I am afraid that your world will get bigger and better but mine will stay the same or get smaller."

When we share things in common with other people we often want those things to stay the same. This can include any and every area of life, from work, where you live, and certainly who you know and the ideas you operate on. If someone is afraid of being overshadowed by your 'big plans', keep things in perspective when discussing changes. Don't use your plans as a weapon to attack their lack of plans.

"I want what's best for you but what you've chosen as best is not what I had in mind."

We can want to help those around us so much that whether or not they have their own ideas we find it hard to suppress our own plans for their betterment. If you decide to go one direction and someone close to you is pulling you the other way, conflict is inevitable. Ask the person to explain their preference and you may find that actually there is not a conflict after all, as they had not known or understood what your plans really were.

"I don't know much about the method you've chosen for changing part of your life but I don't think it will work."

Even when the desired direction is agreed upon, which road will be taken can also be a powder keg issue. You may want to point out that there is little reason to try only one method to achieving a goal and perhaps several routes can be taken towards the same end result.

"I believe that if you improve your life you either won't need me anymore or you'll find better people to be around who have made similar changes."

Insecurities are real and most people, regardless of their level of success, fear being alone. Assure those in your life that you value them for who they are and that they will certainly remain just as valuable to you. Then, if this is what caused their concern, they'll gladly step aside so you can go forward with plans you have for yourself.

"Because I care about you, whenever I see you risking change I worry that you will be disappointed in your efforts."

Those who have gone through major letdowns and not fully recovered are always on the lookout for who they can save from a similar fate. First and foremost on their list are those closest. Avoid displaying anxiety over the transformative process and allow your personal changes to be noticed slowly as they occur without a lot of fanfare... especially at the outset.

"Nothing is wrong with you now, why can't you just be like you are and accept where you are in life?"

There is a popular song with the lyrics: "SHE keeps praying HE'LL change and HE keeps praying SHE won't." Take some relief that someone accepts you the way you are and is happy with who you are now, even if you wish they were behind your ideas. Just because you've decided to improve yourself doesn't mean another person close to you can see the same need.

"I know you. Someone else is influencing your decision to make these changes."

Another may be concerned that conversations you have with other people are causing you to form an unbalanced opinion as to what course to take. Best to explain exactly what information you are basing your choices on and what you are expecting to achieve, so there is no longer any mysterious hidden influence.

"I don't believe people can do much to change their circumstances. This includes you and because I want the best for you I'd hate to see you get your hopes up... I'll even tell you about some people who were let down, including myself, and see if I can persuade you of this reality."

You can explain that even if you fail you will have enjoyed the attempt and learned some valuable lessons and that is what gives meaning to life. However, there is little or no reason to include in your circle of support those who don't believe you can succeed. Even when your goals are reached, most of the people who didn't believe you could achieve anything (though they're really talking about themselves) will still refuse to believe you did.

Note: the above is based on an article at the Inner Gear website.

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