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what to do about others, who resist you changing

It’s no big secret that I love my curly hair – in fact, it’s what I’m known for by some. It shapes my mood and often gives away how energetic and passionate I’m feeling. I’ve tried straight. It’s just not me. I become stiff and I’m told I behave more formally.

I’ve been debating whether to grow my hair out again or go really short. Everyone has an opinion. “Keep it as it is”, “Grow it long, sooo much more versatile”, “Be brave, chop it off”, “Change the colour instead” and on they go. The only thing they agree on is keeping the curls.

Me going to the hairdressers isn’t that big a change – as my dad always said, “It’ll grow”. The type of changes you are seeking might be small, but significant or they could be huge and revolutionise the way  you live. I am sure you’ve also met some folks who have an opinion to share about it, keen to point out the risks, or eager to warn you off with horror stories. They will no doubt have the best intentions; have you ever wondered why they resist you changing and what you can do about it?

Let me lift the lid on that……

1. They consider themselves an expert on you or the change you want to make

And why wouldn’t you want to know all their great advice, insights, experience and so on? It might be first hand or second hand. It might be something they saw on TV – you just don’t know.

Your response?  Treat them as if they are an expert. You could learn something that improves your approach or refines your direction. Ask open questions that you are genuinely seeking solutions for – involving someone else in your thinking process can be powerful.

2. They change the topic

By seeking to change or by changing, you’ve poked an old wound. Perhaps they wish they could be bold and shift their lives and haven’t (yet!). Maybe they tried and failed. Or someone close to them did.

Your response? Recognise their discomfort when your change becomes the topic of conversation and tread softly to protect their wound from further soreness.

3. They chip away at your decision

This is like the return of the Spanish Inquisition – rapid fire, endless questions. What’s driven you to this? Why are you doing it? How do you think you’ll do it? What’s it going to cost you? Do you have time for it? What if your boss/partner/ANOther finds out? And on they go.

Your response: reframe your reaction from defensive to gratitude. They’re not attacking your decision or resolve. They simply care about you and want to be reassured you’re happy and sure about the change.

4. They tell you what they’d feel if they were making your change

This could be encouragement or admiration of your journey – often you’ll hear “I couldn’t do that” at the end. It could be about their own fears, anxieties and personal circumstances around making changes.

Your response: well to the first, take the compliment! If it’s more like the second, a little self-disclosure may be in order, as it’s quite normal for changes to build a mixed set of emotions, motivations and fears in us too. Share them and you’ll have gained a new supporter!

5. They’re absent

You used to be inseparable. And now they’re just not there. They’ve got other plans. They don’t pick up the phone. Avoidance can be a sign of grieving for you – the old you. They might be concerned new you isn’t going to want to be around them, friends with them, have time for them or that you’ll go on changing.

Your response: Don’t give up on your relationship, but do give them space. Reassure them that you value them and want them in your life.

6. They put temptation in your path

Bringing your favourite cake in to work, as you embrace a new health eating plan or asking you outside for a cheeky smoke when you’re trying to give up cigarettes. Or a boss promising a promotion to keep you in a job that’s making you miserable.

What’s driving them? Forgetfulness? Mean streak? Testing your willpower? Looking for an answer that suits them?

Your response: This is a two part response. For them, thank them and hold fast in your resolve. Share why your change is important to you, its about you, not them. For you, if temptation gets the better of you, know that no one is perfect – a lapse is about being human. Accept it and get back on track.

I hope these “under the lid” perspectives help you address your family, friends and colleagues in embracing your plans and decisions. Be patient – I’m sure you’ve spent a long time considering, researching, day dreaming and so on about each element, milestone and of course, what the future looks and feels like. They haven’t.

Thinking about your personal change(s), where are you finding resistance from others? What is your response and is it working for you both? Jump into the comments and tell me how else you see or feel resistance to your change? I’ll join the conversation to help resolve it.


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