D.I.Y. Therapy

What Can You Do When Your Positive Change Causes Loved Ones To React Negatively?

When I decided to take control of my life by ending my depression I let go of several hard worn habits that caused me to feel bad, and along with these habits went a few friends as well.  In my younger years life was all about partying, glamour, and material gain without much depth, but that didn’t make me happy. It actually exasperated my depression because I was just focusing on short-term joys. As I began to focus more on hobbies and interests that gave me a sense of accomplishment and inner peace I deposited my old interests in the memory bank. Well wouldn’t you know that when I changed all of my friends didn’t change with me. We quickly grew apart though I tried to hang on to them for longer than I needed because comfort is addicting and change is scary. Some of those friends I still keep in touch with, but we’re not as close as before because we have such different life pursuits.

Before I left on my “extended vacation” this autumn, a friend(on a similar path) gifted me the book “Steering by Starlight” by Martha Beck. This book of self-realization resonated with me immediately. So much of what she wrote are ideas and actions I’ve been working on and that have helped me along the way. Her encouragement to look at the stars and be our own “Stargazer”, “Mapmaker” and “Pathfinder” is fantastic. I definitely recommend getting a copy. Along with what I knew before openng the book I’m also learning new actions to help me stay focused on my true North. In the last chapter, “Leading Your Life” she talks about the fact that just because we change doesn’t mean everyone around else will embrace the changes and in fact some may react strongly against our new self. Her advice for this stage of our growth process is “sustaining calm, fearless affection” in our relationships.

Instead of defending ourselves by counter attacking and riling up our ego-induced anger, we should recognize that our loved ones are in fact scared of losing us and unsure how to deal with that fear. They aren’t purposely trying to be mean. By staying centered and choosing reassuring words we can calm their fear and lead them along with us on the journey. Here are three of her actions that stood out to me.

1. Tell them, “I know I’m acting different, but I feel really good about it. And I love you more than ever.”

2. “Look them right in the eyes and say, with the calm conviction of the Stargazer, “All is well.”

3. “If you keep breathing deeply, feeling peaceful, and offering reassurance, you’ll defuse arguments that could become endless before they even begin.”

Read more of Martha’s advice on her blog: Marthabeck.com/2012/10/change-back-attacks/


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