It’s something that most of us have heard at some point in our lives, usually from a former friend or someone who used to be much closer to us than they currently are. Whoever says this to you usually means to imply that they liked the “old” you better.
So, now what?
Something like this can be abrasive to hear – especially coming from someone that we once considered ourselves close to. And if you’ve been doing special work to make some positive changes in your life to make yourself a healthier and happier person, it can come as quite a shock to hear someone being so unsupportive of your self-improvement.
To hear someone so abruptly tell you that “you’ve changed!” in such a negative manner can sometimes even be enough to scare you back into ditching your new habits and retreating to the version of yourself that you used to be. After all, if your friends/family have a problem, your changes must be bad… right?
Most of the time, no. Here’s why:
When you make changes in your life to improve your state of being (and these changes can take the form of either actions or thoughts), this impact is felt throughout the circles of those involved in your life. Think about it – if you’re changing the way you behave or the way you think/speak, this is going to change the way that you interact with those around you (even those that you’ve been interacting with for years). And, subsequently, that means that those people will also have to change the way that they interact with you.
Change is constant, and that's okay
Whilst you might view your exercises in self-improvement as positive, affirming and life-changing in the best of ways, not everyone will see them that way.
Often, their views aren’t even related to the actual changes that you’re making, but more to the act of change itself.
If there’s one constant in life, it’s change. We’re all changing, growing and evolving – constantly. And yet for some reason, so many of us have such negative connotations that we tack on to the word “change”.
Some people take any change to mean something bad. Scary. Unpredictable. Change can be a confronting topic as it means that there are some elements that are out of your control and unknown.
If a friend has known you for years, chances are that the way you speak, think and act will have become somewhat predictable to them – and by changing yourself, you’ve suddenly shaken that up. From their perspective, you’ve thrown an element of their world out of orbit without consulting them or giving them any control over the situation.
But while it’s natural for your friend or family member to be a little thrown off at first, it’s unrealistic of them to expect you (or anyone else, for that matter) to stay exactly as you were at a particular point in the relationship.
Sure, you’ve changed.
You’ve stopped living your life according to the manner that they found most appropriate to fit with their needs.
When someone says that you’ve changed:
You hear:“You’ve become an entirely different person and the person that you’re becoming is bad! This is an ultimatum to change back into your former self or else risk losing me as a connection entirely!”
But they most likely mean: “You’re becoming different in ways that I didn’t expect! I don’t understand what this change means for you or the way that this will impact me. I want you to stop changing because I don’t want anything in my life to change!”
Unfortunately, when friends, colleagues or family members feel confronted by your personal changes, they can often become quite petty, nasty or even downright abusive to you. The natural reaction is to start questioning whether your self-improvement is the right path for you if it’s leading to people around you acting incredibly negatively.
But here’s the thing – you can’t control people’s opinions. If you’re making changes in your life that are making you feel more positive, happier, healthier and better in whatever other ways that you’re experiencing, then you need to trust that.
People trying to control your changes probably don't have your best interests at heart!
The important thing to remember is that you aren’t fundamentally changing who you are, and if those around you really enjoy you because of who you are as a person, they’ll adjust. They’ll eventually try and understand and be supportive.
If they only liked you because of how you used to act/think/behave, then they’re unlikely to remain in your life. Try not to be too upset by this because the truth is, this would’ve happened eventually anyway. We all change, constantly. Relationships based on such a fixed and narrow portion of life rarely last the distance.
I am ever changing, and I am thankful for this. I have learned and grown from my experiences and I take positive steps every day to mature and increase my happiness. I am different than I was yesterday and tomorrow, I will be different than I am today.
From there, the ball is really in their court. And whatever they decide to do is out of your control, much as the changes that you’ve decided to make are outside of their control.
We all change, and that’s okay!
Don’t apologize for changing. All you can do is to be open and honest and let those around you know why you’re making changes and how you hope they’ll benefit your life. This is your life to live, and you need to make sure that you’re the one in the driver’s seat.
The more that all of us can make peace with the fact that things, people and situations change, the happier and more accepting we can all be.