Let’s Talk About Change
Have you ever been excited about making a change in your life … only to feel completely deflated by someoneâ€™s reaction?
Or have you ever faced a difficult change … and had it made worse by someone elseâ€™s reaction?
The people around us â€“ friends, family, colleagues â€“ arenâ€™t always as supportive as we might wish, especially in times of change. They might offer lots of advice â€“ you know they mean well, but it drives you crazy. They might be very negative about the change, telling you itâ€™ll never work out â€“ and thatâ€™s often the last thing you need.
Thereâ€™s no one-size-fits-all solution to this: you canâ€™t make the people around you respond to your news in just the way youâ€™d like. You can, however, ensure that youâ€™re emotionally prepared for a potentially not-so-great reaction … and you can control the manner in which you deliver the news.
When the Change May Take Some Time
If youâ€™re embarking on a change thatâ€™s inevitably going to take some time, you may want to think about who best to tell in the early stages.
For instance, if youâ€™re starting a new diet, you might prefer not to tell all your friends, family and colleagues â€“ as you may get unhelpful comments. (Anything from â€œOh, you donâ€™t need to diet!â€ to â€œIâ€™ll believe it when I see it.â€)
Of course, some people do find that social support and accountability helps â€“ but you may want to build your confidence by waiting until your diet is established before confiding in anyone beyond close friends and family.
The same applies to other time-consuming changes, especially ones that may not be fully under your control. If you and your partner are trying for a baby, for instance, you might not want to tell anyone at all â€“ that way, you wonâ€™t have constant enquiries of â€œAny news yet?â€
Remember: You are in control of when you choose to talk about a change. Try to pick a good time to tell people, perhaps once youâ€™re feeling confident and strong.
When the Change May Provoke Disapproval
Sometimes, you just know that certain relatives, friends, or colleagues are going to try to talk you out of a change â€“ or tell you that youâ€™re being stupid.
Some lifestyle changes can provoke strong reactions. Perhaps youâ€™re getting divorced, and you think some of your relatives will be angry or upset. Maybe youâ€™re quitting your job in order to become self-employed, and you suspect that your friends wonâ€™t understand.
Itâ€™s normally up to you whether or not you tell people about a specific change, but thereâ€™ll be some circumstances where you donâ€™t really have a choice.If youâ€™re getting divorced, for instance, your immediate family and social circle are going to know about it sooner or later.
Something you will find, though, is that people donâ€™t always react the way you expect! Your curmudgeonly aunt might prove a sudden bastion of support. Your high-earning friend might confess a desire to also leave the rat-race.
Remember: You canâ€™t live your life to please other people, so donâ€™t be too anxious about negative reactions. You may well find that youâ€™ve magnified the worries in your own head â€“ some people will be more supportive and encouraging than you expect.
When the Change Isnâ€™t Under Your Control
Sometimes, youâ€™ll have a change forced upon you. Perhaps youâ€™ve been made redundant at work, or youâ€™ve discovered that youâ€™re facing a health issue. You might well feel anxious, angry, upset … but you may also be trying to focus on positives.
Telling people may, in some cases, make you feel worse about the change. Perhaps youâ€™ve decided to make the best of redundancy, for instance, finally pursuing the career of your dreams … only for your relatives to talk as though itâ€™s the end of the world.
Think in advance about how you want to frame the change. Saying â€œIâ€™ve been feeling very anxious about…â€ is going to make the whole thing seem negative. You might want to start instead with the bare facts â€“ â€œIâ€™ve been made redundantâ€ â€“ and then follow this with something positive, like â€œEven though it means money will be a bit tight, this is actually a blessing in disguise â€“ Iâ€™ve been thinking about a career change for a while.â€
Remember: By being positive, even in difficult circumstances, youâ€™re giving a cue to other people to respond the same way. If youâ€™re worried about getting upset or angry when you talk about a difficult change, consider telling people in writing, or asking a mutual friend to pass on the news.
What changes are you facing right now? Are you anxious about telling people â€“ or telling a particular person? If youâ€™d like some support, or if youâ€™d like to share your experiences, just leave a comment below.
Photo by mikebaird