I’m not the same person I was at this time last year. I’m truly happy about that because I’m in a much better place mentally and soulfully (is that really a word? Not sure but I’m using it anyway because I can!). But I just realized that not everyone feels the same about the new me. I don’t know if any of you guys have experienced this yet, but when you’re working on personal growth or going through a major life transformation it really changes you – to the point where some friends and family may feel like they don’t know you anymore or just don’t get the new you. They might even be scared by or jealous of the person you’ve become.
While it’s only natural for you to outgrow friends, especially during times of radical personal growth and change, it doesn’t always have to happen that way. One of the scariest parts about self discovery, personal growth journeys and soul-searching and why a lot of people just avoid these is that we’re scared of becoming estranged from all that we know. We won’t be the same person anymore. We may lose friends, even family, in the process when they don’t support the new you. You might learn things about yourself that cause you to completely change who you are, your career, lifestyle, habits etc. That can be terrifying. The good news is you’ll make better, truer friends, you’ll be in a better place overall and you will be happier and more fulfilled. More good news: you don’t have to lose the friends you don’t truly want to lose. There are some friends who you know it’s time to move on from when they just don’t share your outlook on life and aren’t willing to support the new you, but there are also usually ones who are worth your time and effort to evolve the friendship.
So here are a few tips I have for making this process with your friends and family go a little easier and what to do when they just don’t get the new you, based on my own personal experience.
1. Grow with them
Don’t assume you have to go on a personal growth journey alone. Often when we tell close friends about our plans to becoming the best versions of ourselves, they want to go along for the journey. If you have the capacity to open up your journey to others – do it! Commit to sharing your journey with them and you’ll all get more value from it and probably enjoy the process a lot more. Often when we go through personal growth we grow apart from friends. Don’t let this happen if you don’t want it to. Choose to grow with them and make a point of sharing your experiences and lessons learned with them. Share the books, blog posts, stories you find helpful, share your feelings and experiences along the way. Who knows, your friendship could blossom even more.
2. Keep an open mind and listen
It takes two to make a friendship, so make sure you’re also listening and willing to take what your friend says to heart. Their feelings matter too, even if they’re not exactly what you want to hear. Listen with an open mind and heart, hear their side of things. A good friend listens, takes in what their friend has to say because their feelings are real. We must appreciate when friends are being vulnerable with their feelings and make sure they feel heard. You may get negative feedback or criticism. This most likely has to do with their own insecurities or fears. Try to remember that they are scared to lose you and approach any seemingly negative comments with love. You might feel attacked but remember that they are scared to lose you and react with compassion, not anger or resentment. Make it clear that you want to grow with them not apart from them but you need their support.
3. Don’t force it
Your friend might not like the person you’ve become. Maybe they’re jealous, maybe they just aren’t supportive or accepting. If this is the case, it may be time to move on, unfortunately. This often happens when people change dramatically; you may outgrow relationships and need to find new ones that help you thrive as opposed to hold you back. It’s a natural part of change but it can be really traumatic and sad. Just know that if this happens, it’s meant to be and you will find better, more supportive friends for the new you. Make the effort to include your friend but if they’re just not having it or being constantly negative, it’s time to move on.
We have to remember that personal growth journeys don’t just affect us. They can affect the dynamics of relationships with romantic partners, friends, family, and co-workers. We are not isolated creatures. All of our behaviors and actions affect others, most especially the people we are closest to. Make an effort to keep the good friends around by being open, honest and vulnerable with them about your personal growth journey and allowing them to participate where they can. Equally as important – make an effort to say goodbye to the friends who don’t support you on your journey towards personal growth and improvement.
Best of luck on all your journeys!