It takes all the courage we have to make a change in our lives.
We want to grow and expand but the people around us don’t support us! What’s up with that? You would think that if they cared for us they would respond differently. Let me share some true scenarios and see what you think.
Cheryl, in her 40’s, wanted to go back to university to get her degree. She would attend school when she wasn’t working so she could continue to bring income into the family. Her husband told her she wouldn’t be able to do it. She was shocked at his response. He seemed to find every excuse as to why she shouldn’t.
Helen wanted to go back to work after she had her first son. Her mother criticized her and made her feel guilty.
Sue wanted to apply for a promotion at work and her best friend tried to talk her out of it. She told Sue that management positions were not worth it – too much effort for too little return.
Megan wanted to marry a man who she was in love with and he was not from her cultural background. She didn’t want to follow the stereotypical relationships her mother or sisters had – since they were all unhappy. She chose a different route and her father refused to talk to her and told her she was no longer welcome in the family.
Caroline participated in a family holiday celebration every year with all of her aunts and uncles and grandparents. For years, she was unhappy and didn’t enjoy it – there was too much in-fighting and stress. The next year she decided to just have her immediate family and her husband’s and she was criticized for not wanting to be a part of the bigger family.
Maria’s parents are religious and they always went to church. As a young girl, she too went every week and participated in church events. She met some wonderful people and enjoyed the connections she made. When she got older, she no longer found the same value in going to church. She continued to believe, but didn’t think it was necessary
It’s one thing to be unhappy in a situation and just put up with it. However, in all of the scenarios I just shared, these women did something about it. They chose being happy or fulfilling a need over being miserable. What’s at stake when we do that? We disappoint others, we feel we have let them down, we feel guilty and we even feel selfish for putting our own needs ahead of others’.
What’s the alternative? We continue to please others, we seek their approval, we think we need that to be good people or to be loved or to be accepted. We slowly lose our identity because we are living up to others’ expectations of us and not following our hearts.
What’s really going on? Everyone has their own story – their own reality, their own belief system. That is the lens by which they view the world. When they share their perspective with us about the changes we want to make in our lives – it is exactly that – their perspective. They may try to make it sound like it is about us – but that is not always the case.
Let’s revisit those scenarios I mentioned earlier and I will uncover what was really going on.
Cheryl’s husband did not support her going back to university because he did not have a degree and he was afraid that she would leave him once she got hers.
Helen’s mom grew up in an era when women were stay at home moms and they did not enter the work force. Her mom failed to realize that times had changed. Her mother was embarrassed to tell her friends that her daughter was going back to work and felt it was a bad reflection on her parenting.
Megan’s father grew up in a command and control environment where you must follow what your elders and society dictated. He tried to pass that belief onto his daughter. He too was ashamed of how it looked on him if his daughter didn’t follow his beliefs.
Caroline’s relatives also just followed along with the family traditions regardless of whether they enjoyed themselves or not. When Caroline pulled out, they took it personally and failed to see that she wanted to create a new tradition of her own.
Maria’s family imposed their religious beliefs on to her and as an adult, she had her own. They never considered that there could be a different view from theirs. Her choice challenged their comfort zone which is why they reacted the way they did.
In all of these situations, we are not responsible for other people’s reactions. We have a right to pursue who we are and what we need. We may need to spend some time, being respectful and explaining our position to those closest to us and hearing their response. We will always be at our happiest when we allow our authentic selves to come out. And maybe, just maybe, you might inspire others to make change themselves!