You probably already know, deep down, that something has to change, that you’ve got to a place where things are can’t go on as they are. But at the heart there’s this niggling question, a fear even. If I change, will people still like me? Will those I’m close to still love me? I’ve been this way forever. This is the me they know.
Where you put your energy
I can imagine how you feel. I’ve been there with some of my own big changes, when I started saying no sometimes rather than yes and that felt like the hardest thing I’d ever done. There are so many things going on when you don’t feel good in yourself, and a lot of that energy can be turned outwards to what other might think or feel about you.
Sometimes when people come to counselling with me, I hear them talk about all the stuff they don’t like about themselves. So I ask them what they do like. If they’re able to connect with that part of themselves, they’ll come up with a few things.
So here’s the thing about counselling. It can and does change you. It helps you come to terms with the things that have been painful in your life, both the ones you remember and the ones you’ve locked away and hope would never see the light of day again.
But that change can only happen because there’s part of you that wants it, that knows what it needs to feel better again. You’re only thinking about counselling because of what has become unbearable, not because you fancy sitting and having a chat once a week and paying for it, to boot.
The myth that you can control what others might think about you
Here’s the big myth about change, that you can make others feel one way or another about you. Yes if you become more assertive, more self confident, more joyous, more connected, more at one with yourself, some people close to you might feel confused, put out, resistant, threatened. When we are unsure of ourselves, seeing someone else flourish can feel ever so difficult.
That’s the potential price you pay for feeling better about yourself: you might disappoint others; you might let them down; you might say no (or maybe yes.) And that will be ok. Because you do it from your own heart, for yourself. It’s a good kind of selfish, right?
Will you like yourself?
So perhaps the question isn’t about what others think. Maybe the question you could ask yourself is, will I like myself (better), if I change? Or even, will I learn to like myself if I change?
Yes change might impact how others perceive you, but can you bear what it does to your own self image? As you look over the precipice at that possibility, it sure as hell looks and feels scary. So scary you might want to run a mile.
This week’s wellbeing lifeline
If you’re feeling scared about change, have a go at writing the ‘If I change list.’
Gather you writing implements.
Start by finding a calm quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Still and centre yourself with a few moments of deep and deliberate breathing.
When you are ready start a list with the words: If I change…
For example If I change, my friends won’t want to spend time with me
On each new line, write If I change… and complete the statement after it with as many beliefs as you can, both positive and negative.
As a follow up you could come back to the list after some time for a review and edit, and if you feel like it put a score out of 10 against each belief depending on how important you feel it is.
Want help with change?
If you feel something has to change but you don’t know where to start or are scared of what might happen, why not book an introductory counselling session here?