Understanding the value of change

Posted on September 1, 2010


As a life coach, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job is watching clients transform their lives right in front of me. Of course, as a dating and relationship coach, one of the best things is watching clients, formerly plagued by bad past relationships, steer their lives in totally new directions and find true love.

When someone calls to tell me that they’ve found a great relationship, that they’re engaged to the man of their dreams or that they’ve finally kicked a terrible relationship to the curb, I want to jump and down and cheer. All their hard work has finally paid off and a celebration is in order!

Then often comes the part that breaks my heart. These dear clients want to know why, if they are finally so happy, are those around them not happy for them as well?

Although not an easy thing to deal with, this is a common occurrence. So common, in fact, that I even have a name for this: change-back attacks. Because many clients who make positive changes find themselves surrounded by people shouting Change Back! (as in: change back to who you were before), I have a bunch of coaching tools, tips and strategies to use just for these occasions. But before we get into those, it’s important to understand what’s going on with the naysayers.

Here is what I’ve discovered about change and human relationships:

People, in relationships of all types, are like puzzle pieces that find ways to fit together. If even one person changes shape, the others around him/her have to change as too. Well, that is if they all still want to “fit” together. As much as some people love and care for you, they may not be overjoyed about having to change their own “puzzle piece.”

There are 3 reasons, really, why you may be experiencing some resistance to the positive changes you’ve made in your life. Today, I’m going to discuss the most common one:

1. People who love you and want the best for you feel threatened by the change you’ve made because it will require them to change in some way.

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve upset the status quo by changing.  Others are probably afraid of the changes they’ll have to make in reaction to your change. It’s usually that simple.

Take, for example, the group of single girls who always hang out together every weekend. When one of them falls in love and starts spending her Saturdays with her new boyfriend, the group is automatically changed. No matter how great the new guy may be, his presence has upset an order and a familiarity the group has become very comfortable with.

Or take the single mom who’s given her kids her unconditional attention since she’s been divorced. Once this woman falls in love with someone else, the lives of the entire family have to change to accommodate the mom’s new partner. This guy may be perfect for this mom. He may be the best step-dad on the planet. But his role in the life of this family requires an adjustment on the part of all involved and not everyone is going to be happy about this.

Now, it’s hard not to take others’ resistance to an exciting change in your life personally. When you have something exciting to share, you want others to share in your happiness, especially if they know how much you’ve wanted things to change. I get this. I know how hard this is. This month, I’ll be discussing how you can deal with all of this with the confidence and grace of someone who knows the value of change.

Posted in: Change