Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Trouble with Change

Here's the trouble with change -- the people who liked you the way used to be, may not be so tickled with the new you.

There's an axiom in family therapy that says, "If one person in a family changes, it changes the whole dynamic. Everyone in the group has to adjust." They may not want to adjust. They may like things just the way we were. Only "the way we were" is not available any more. We all have to adjust to the new reality, like it or not.

Another bit of wisdom comes from the est training, "Most likely you are fine just the way you are, but you keep acting the way you used to be."

Here are some questions I've been thinking about. I'd love to know your thoughts too.

  • What are some ways you are changing?
  • How are your friends, family and associates responding?
  • What challenges do your changes present?
  • Are you finding it difficult to adjust to a change in someone else?

As I grow older, (talk about a change!) my tolerance for meanness and harsh judgement has dropped so low that I blurt things out. I defend people, present or not, when someone attacks them or wishes them harm. It does not always go over well.

My capacity for sympathy morphed into one of empathy. A few years ago I asked the wonderful Doug Wilson, director of the Rowe Conference Center in Massachusetts, to "take warm and friendly out of my bio." When he first put it in there, it seemed apt, but I had changed. I explained that although I had no intention of becoming cold and unfriendly, I was more interested in being clear and useful. I did not want to set myself up as a target for people in search of warmth and friendliness like  heat-seeking missiles, only to disappoint them with the new me.

Some other big changes for me are:
  • A move from building and acquiring to reflection and sharing.
  • Aging -- adjusting to the inevitable wearing out of my human body, part by part.
  • Less attachment to the way things should be.
  • Learning to appreciate and welcome criticism as useful, sometimes precious, information.
  • I sometimes question limiting beliefs when they are presented as facts -- uninvited.

I am blessed with family and friends who give me lots of room to grow and change. I hope I return the favor. Others of us drift apart like clouds in the ever changing sky. I hope we can always bless each other on our way.

How about you? What is happening in your world of change?


  1. Still today I can suddenly be very affected by a situation in which someone turns away from me, who used to be very friendly, enthusiastic etc. It brings up an old pain and a lot of memories of all other occasions in which this happened. As if I freely express mysef in who I think and feel, that sooner or later people start disliking me and don't want to be around so much any more. What is the deeper learning here for me and will I ever be able to learn the lesson? Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Lianne, I think the message is: Express yourself more and more. Some people will turn away but the rest of us, lots more of us, will be able to connect with you. So often when we become careful not to lose anyone, we narrow our connections down, sometimes to a few hard-to-please people who like us because we never challenge them. Then when the inevitable dis-pleasing happens we experience the loss as bigger than if we had lots of connections with more accepting people. Thank you for sharing such open thoughts and feelings here. I love you!

  3. Ha ha ha... take warm and friendly out...
    Actually, you are warm and friendly AND so much more!
    Your cute smile and dimples are a great coverup for clear and useful.

    Love you!

  4. Hi Mandy thank you for the blog. I have undergone many changes this year. Some of them financial resulting in losing my home and flash car and many of my worldly goods. I notice that I adapted well to the new home and little run around car, in fact feel grateful to have them. One way I didn't initially was to still have a desperate attitude to money, managing to scrape by seemed to become the norm for me rather than just a phase. I feel blessed to have noticed this and bring on some new change :)

  5. I guess that as long as we live we can feel safe with someone but when we venture to express our inner thoughts, we become vulnerable. A lot of times we are safe but a lot of times, it eventually causes a break in the previous friend's relationship and communications. Can we ever feel safe or must we always be confined to our inner thoughts. Or, do we file our inner most thoughts to a hypothetical other person's thoughts. That way, if that person's thoughts are rejected, we are saved and know not to express it as our own thought. Freedom of thought and expression must be guarded with some and we are never quite sure who that one is.
    The recent turmoil of our political situation turned family members against family and friends against friends. We came to avoid politics completely knowing it was an explosive subject.
    Hopefully not all secrets are that touchy. Thanks Mandy, for your wonderful, uplifting web site.

  6. I feel like the person who is having the most challenge w/ the changes that are occurring in my life is - me. There are so many changes that have occurred that I am either still trying to recognize and identify or simply still trying accept the ‘now’ me. Some changes have to do w/ recognizing I really am more sensitive, less energetic, in need of more quiet . . . Then, once I recognize these new important needs, there’s always the process of accepting and integrating them. But the changes that are most alive are around my ‘identity’. I’ll be thinking I’m the kind of person who can’t ..., or doesn’t know how and then this voice says, “Who says you’re that person? Isn’t that just a habit of thinking more than a habit of doing? What if you tell yourself a different story?” And whallah – something new opens up. A tiny change occurs. Those are the ones that are fun – liberating. Anyway – some changes are challenging and some changes are just a plain relief and either way – I’m the main one who is yearning for acceptance – mainly from myself. I am really appreciating the opportunity to share this very current process in my life. My gratitude to you Mandy for opening up this conversation.

  7. Thanks you so much for your moving, insightful comments. The exchange of wisdom, challenges and ideas is beyond my wildest dreams. Blessings to us all!

  8. I have changed but am still stuck. Ihave a limiting belief that if I do not 'behave' I shall be abandond, cast out of the family. This was my childhood experience. I am now 55 years old and am still 'behaving' and fearfull. It worries me that I will have to cope alone if I do not tow the line. I am in a loving and happy marrieage with lovely grown children, but I still hesitate when I want to do something for me. Sometimes I am brave but I still feel the fear.

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