Change Is Hard
Working with souls learning to live differently I find myself confronted with my own response to their changes. What are my expectations? How does their change, no matter how desired, affect my relationship to them? Do I ask them to risk changing and then not allow them the room to become different? And it's not just in work. It happens in all relationships.
It's not uncommon to fall into the trap of reacting to “what used to be” rather than responding to the efforts of “the now”. Even as a “professional”, it's easy to make assumptions or have expectations or even forget the necessity of my own response to those around me. Change is hard. And no change is ever small. For those who have lived in old patterns for years, the obstacles surrounding even the most desired changes are immense to say the least.
When someone we care for is in the process of “becoming”, not only is it imperative they have grace and compassion for themselves during what is often a difficult transformation; it's equally important those of us who care about them remember to support their change with compassion, grace, and empathy in response to the changes being born.
When the people we care for are working towards change, it’s hard for everyone. We must become aware of our own responses. Are we responding to their commitment to change or are we reacting to the way they used to be, even though they have shown tremendous progress? When they slip up, do we get frustrated and angry for them not changing fast enough?
Do we use a slip or the emergence of an old pattern to call into question all the progress they've made? It's important to remember as people change in our life, we have to change with them and understand that the process is never linear. The emergence of old patterns never eliminates a person's growth and progress. It’s a natural part of the process.
Take a breath, stand back and with compassionate curiosity, check in with them. Check in with yourself. Let the moment be just that. When confronting someone in a moment of change, be mindful of your intentions. Are you reacting or are you responding? Is the moment being highlighted different in some way? Don’t recall every other moment of a person’s struggle/history you may not have even been present for and allow it to taint one experience.
If someone you care for and love is working to make changes, remember that one of the best ways you can support them is to let each moment be its own and acknowledge what changes you need to make in your own life to support their growth. If we commit to help someone along the journey of change, we must commit to give them the room to wrestle with what that means and own our part of the process.
If a soul in the midst of change shows up with old patterns be sure you don’t respond in kind with your old reactions.
A little grace goes a long way - for both of you.
— HR Miller MA, LMFT, CEDS-S