A very dear friend of mine is grappling with a situation that I have experienced many times in my own life. I suspect that you have faced this challenge, too, when someone you love is…
… resisting some or all of the changes you are embracing in your life;
… judging your personal growth or your evolving perspectives;
… refusing to accept the version of who you are now and trying to hold on to who you were last year, or the year before that.
There are many reasons why the people who love us may hope that we will not change. In my experience, fear is almost always at the root of that hope. Maybe those who love us are counting on our constancy, or hoping that we will be the anchor that keeps them moored while they themselves undergo changes. In living life, we are always changing. The changes may be subtle or significant, but none of us remains exactly the same. It is especially difficult to face loved-ones who want you to be who you were, rather than who you are.
My friend (let’s call her Kayla) asked me to suggest ways she could communicate with the loved-one who is now judging her, complaining that she is “different,” and criticizing virtually every decision Kayla is making. Kayla wants to save the relationship but does not want to sacrifice her own happiness and personal growth to do so.
I suggested that in her next conversation with the unaccepting loved-one, Kayla use her own version of these phrases that I have used, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, in navigating the judgment of someone who is holding on to a past version of me…
… “Please know that I still love you. And please know that I also love myself, so I am following my heart and my own intuition in the decisions I am making. Can you understand that?”
… “Will you please explain in what ways you see me as ‘different’ and why these changes upset you? Are you afraid that we are growing apart?”
… “Do you feel that I expect you to make the same decisions I am making? Do you believe that I am judging you in some way?”
My sincere hope for Kayla is that she and her loved-one will find a way through this difficult time in their relationship, and that a shared commitment to love, compassion and patience will guide their path. That is my hope for everyone, myself included, who faces the judgment and frustrations of people who love them as they used to be rather than loving them for who they are now.
I would love to hear how you have handled similar situations in your relationships, and I invite you to add your thoughts in the “Leave a Comment” section below.
Thank you very, very much! In this New Year, may we all be kind, compassionate and loving with others and with ourselves as we learn and grow.
Photo credit: © Alina Datsyuk|Dreamstime.com