There’s nothing more hopeful than the thought of making positive, impactful changes in our lives. But once we initiate change, we may find some of those closest to us are unsupportive.
The process of personal transformation is difficult enough without such an unexpected obstacle. Whether we experience a change in career, adjustment to a new health regimen, or other circumstance, we need the support of others.
Despite this complicated challenge, we can still move ahead.
Why Some Are Unsupportive of Change
If change was easy, we’d all love and embrace it. But it doesn’t work that way.
When we don’t find encouragement from those close to us, it helps to delve deeper into why. They usually mean no ill-will, but simply don’t get it. These individuals are familiar with the old us and like the old us.
They don’t want us to change for several reasons:
- They don’t understand why we want to change. They think they know us well and believe everything is okay just the way it is.
- People think we’re making a mistake. This one is out of fear. They’re attempting to look out for our best interest. They want us to take the safe, secure route so we don’t get hurt.
- Our change impacts them. They don’t want their lives to change. Most don’t like disruption. While we transition, those close to us may be required to make sacrifices too. The promise of an ultimate payoff for our efforts will be hard for some to buy into.
- They may not believe we can change because they’ve never seen us any other way.
- They can’t see what we see. We have a vision for the future with a clear destination. But they simply can’t process it.
There’s a very real danger these well-meaning relatives, friends, and co-workers will put pressure on us to go back to the way it used to be. They may even use guilt or shame to sabotage our efforts.
Once we understand where their lack of support originates, we have a better idea of how to address it.
Why We Need Someone on Our Side
When we’re in the middle of any kind of transition, we must be intentional with those we spend time with and guard the fragile person becoming something new.
It’s cocoon time. We’re no longer where we were but not quite where we want to be either. The struggles of identity and uncertainty surface at this point. And we question ourselves wondering if we can really pull it off.
This is the critical period when we most need someone on our side.
If we go it alone, we’re not necessarily doomed for failure, but we set ourselves up for a rougher road than necessary. Yet, when someone shares the ride with us, it increases our odds of success.
A supportive comrade provides:
- Moral support
- An understanding of the discouragement and frustration we face
- An ear to listen
- The voice to call us out when we get stuck or aren’t pulling our weight
- The encouragement we need to push through the problem and keep going
- A high-five for every little step of progress
Just knowing someone has our back gives us the strength and willpower to continue.
Finding an Accountability Partner
Odds are we already know someone who is 100% behind us. But if not, it’s up to us to actively seek an accountability partner. This person could be a coach, friend, or mentor. It could be someone at our same level of progress or one who’s gone before and knows the challenges we face.
If we’re trying to lose weight and become physically fit, we might find a buddy in a group weight loss program or at the gym. If our goal is start our own business, we can get to know others at a Chamber of Commerce meeting or business conference.
No matter the situation, we’ll likely find a multitude of others who share our struggles. The mutual support extended to one another is the fuel that keeps us going.
You might be able to sway some of the unsupportive to your side. Others will continue to criticize and there’s nothing you can do about it. No matter how sincerely you try to help them understand, they won’t.
You can move ahead on your own without support. Or you can actively seek out others willing to help you grow.
As Helen Keller said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
If you find yourself in the middle of change without someone on your side, consider what steps you can take to find an advocate and move forward.