What to Do when your life changes…trigger others

Post by Kate Swoboda (a.k.a. Kate Courageous!) for the Kind Kindred series.

image courtesy of CrossEarth on Etsy.com


I am thrilled to have a guest post from Kate Courageous on KOM today. I’m honored to be studying under Kate in the Courageous Living Coach Certification Program (CLCC). Stay tuned for more info on that next week! For now, enjoy Kate’s wise words. I know I do. xo, Lara


When you’ve been struggling with something for awhile, but ?nally you have some kind of breakthrough that leads to the happiness of an open heart–you feel yourself rising, expansive, excited, inspired, generous, open, and almost obsessively inclined to see things on the bright side.

Anyone who has been here knows: this can (really) trigger other people.

Suddenly, to them, you’re…annoyingly positive. Naive in your desire to look on the bright side. Not dealing with “reality.” They want to talk with you less because you’re no longer engaging in gossip. They’re furious when you insist on respectful communication, instead of screaming arguments. They ask outright if “something’s wrong” with you or “what’s up with you, lately.” They wonder why you’re not “there for them” if you have come to realize that you don’t want to be responsible for their stuff, anymore.

Perhaps most painfully, sometimes in families and friendship groups, your recent decision to make changes becomes the topic of gossip or condescending judgments made behind your back.

In other words, you’re different, and it’s uncomfortable. You want to change in ways that you feel proud of, yet you don’t want that to come at the expense of being distant from family or friends.

The temptation arises: to just go back to the old pattern, to dull your own ?ame so that they won’t feel bad if you’re happier than they are, to not tell them what you’ve realized, or to put up with disrespectful behavior because, “Hey, they’re never going to change.” (insert sigh).

The Alternatives

There are alternatives to dumbing down and going back to an old way of being that, while familiar, doesn’t serve you, anymore.

#1: Keep the focus on you. If you’re uncertain about how to “be” around people who expect the “old you,” keep drawing your attention back to the changes you have decided to make, and why they are important to you. As soon as your attention goes to how they are reacting or responding, you’re getting caught up in their stuff, and their stuff? It’s not your business.

What is your business? The changes you want to make. If you’re not totally grounded in the choices you want to make, then it doesn’t really matter how anyone else reacts. Change will always be about you.

#2: Get clear on what support looks like. People who don’t support changes that you make will act uncomfortable, downplay your choices, make jokes, criticize, get confrontational, or blandly tell you to “be realistic” or “if it works out, great, but don’t get your hopes up.”

People who are supportive of what you’re up to will be curious and ask questions. Even if they don’t “get it,” at ?rst, they’ll validate what they see: “You seem really happy–how great!” In other words, they’ll put acknowledgment of your desires for yourself before their own judgments about whether or not what you’re doing is something that they would choose for themselves.

#3: Respect boundaries, and don’t force the transformation of others. They have their path, and it’s not up to you to motivate them to change. It is kindness to let people have their own path, and not try to cajole them into seeing the “opportunity” when they’re feeling sad or upset.

Yes, negative reactions are hard, especially so when you realize that the old patterns keep everyone disconnected (and if they’d only realize that, too, there’d be more love and connection, which is all you’re really after–don’t they see that?). Get clearest on this: if they aren’t making the same choices as you, they aren’t bad people. This is not the time to get arrogant and say to your (new) circle of (like-minded) friends, “I just feel
sorry for my family; they’re all such miserable people stuck in their patterns!” If the personal work that you do is just manipulated to be “better than” others, then the work hasn’t really…worked (on you). Love expands–it doesn’t set up justi?cations for your judgment of others.

#4: Be willing to speak into what you see.

Really think about this one–because it’s important. Let’s say that you’re doing all of the above things. you’re grounded in what you want to do. you’re surrounding yourself with as many supportive people as you can. For those people who are less than enthused about your changes, you’re not trying to get them to change; you’re just doing your thing.

And…they keep challenging you in ways that aren’t respectful. Sometimes they’re overt and it’s easy to point out. Other times, it’s undermining and harder to pinpoint or articulate.

Sometimes we get confused into thinking that love equals not speaking up when we see the so-called “negative.” Pema Chodron calls this “idiot compassion,” thinking that true compassion looks like letting people walk all over you.

When you communicate a boundary and someone blows by it (again), you’ve got to (respectfully, lovingly, and ?rmly) speak up. When you say you’re willing to discuss a con?ict as long as it’s respectful and the screaming commences, you’ve got to (respectfully, lovingly, and ?rmly) speak up.

When you express excitement about something in your life and someone brings up (again) the ?ve things that could go wrong, or tells you to “be realistic,” or laughs at you and says “Calm down! It’s not that big of a deal,” then…well, you know what you need to do.

Your Work

Instead of seeing these challenges as proof that the work you’ve done isn’t going to work, see it as completing the circle of the life changes you’re trying to make. Life changes aren’t fully integrated into your life because everyone agrees–they’re integrated fully when you are so grounded in what you desire for your life that it’s okay if others disagree.

In other words, your work continues to be what it always was, without you getting caught up in the distractions of other people’s reactions: your happiness.

Pure. Plain. Simple.

Good on you for being willing to reach for it.


Kate Swoboda (a.k.a. Kate Courageous) is the author of the Courageous Living Program, founder
of the Courageous Living Coach Certification Program, and creator of YourCourageousLife.com, where she de?nes courage as feeling afraid, diving in anyway, and transforming. Her approach combines straight-shooting, pragmatic wisdom with playfully poking at self-imposed limitations of who you are and what’s truly possible for you.
Kate was deemed one of the top 50 bloggers making a difference in ?tness, health, and happiness by Greatist. She’s written for The Daily Love, ProBlogger, MindBodyGreen, Lifetime Moms, and was a breakout session speaker at the 2012 World Domination Summit.
You can ?nd Kate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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