When you start on a personal growth journey, your energy--your very essence--changes. These seemingly small life adjustments you’ve been making can have huge ripple effects in your life. You're becoming someone new!
Maybe you're working on being more positive after years of chronic negativity. Perhaps you're a new vegetarian because it more closely resonates with your beliefs. Maybe you spend your Friday nights now at Bikram instead of the bar.
At the same time, conversations with loved ones feel awkward. Topics you cared about now seem redundant. It seems impossible to find a deep and satisfying connection anymore. You feel unnourished and unheard because unfortunately, you are.
Many of our old friends are simply old friends because we went to school with them or grew up around them. These friendships were born out of convenience, not necessarily by choice.
Many friends and even family are no longer an energetic match for you. And guess what? That's a great thing! But it may not feel so great at first.
Maybe you feel that it’s better the devil you know.
But what if, the devil you know is actually keeping you from a pack of angels waiting to move you forward?
Letting go of others is one of the reasons people abandon their growth and slip back into old, familiar dynamics. It’s painful, alienating and confusing to let go. After all, those dynamics feel familiar and as humans, we naturally crave familiarity.
Loyalty can also keep us stuck with the wrong people for too long. Loyalty can seem like such an admirable quality but it can often be blind and misguided. Just because someone has been in your life for a long time doesn't give them permanent placement for life — especially if it no longer feels good!
Surprise! Growth can be a lonely enterprise.
Most of us live with the belief that when we're on the right path, the world will rise to meet us with people and opportunity. And there's certainly some truth to it. But that doesn't mean periods of loneliness and self-doubt don't come along with it.
You don't have to be happy about letting go. It's okay to grieve what we're leaving behind. It's okay to be sad as we say goodbye to people, to places, to situations that no longer suit us. It's also important to grieve our old selves as we work on our new emerging self.
Let’s face it, growth can be painful and grief may come along for the ride. This process is not for the weak at heart! But the rewards are profound. The question is, are you willing to find out?
Backlash accompanies self-growth.
As we continue on our journey, we may even experience backlash from loved ones as well as total strangers. People living in a state of fear and stagnancy often see those on a path to growth as threatening.
Perhaps you’ve decided to start a business and are growing and succeeding in new and exciting ways, but your family and friends don't seem to like it because you’re shining a little too bright. Or you’re on a health kick and your husband dampens your progress because he fears losing you.
You may be called a snob or superior for changing. You may be snubbed by those who you thought were real friends. The more you work on your self, it can feel as if the world is working against you.
It's critical not to take it personally and continue. As a matter of fact, backlash can be a sign you're on the right path!
Start with pioneering your own kind of relationships.
What does the new, emerging you want in relation to others in the future? More supportive lovers and friends? Kind, nurturing people who accept you just the way you are? Happy, grateful souls, who make you laugh and bring out the best in you?
Also, examine what you don't want and will not tolerate anymore. You may be done with overly negative types or people who inexplicably drain the life out of you. You're ready to move beyond people who aren't conscious of the world around them and seem entirely too self-involved. Maybe you're just tired of those who talk too much and listen too little.
So self-growth can mean pain, loss and backlash but here's the beauty:
Now you can design your life how you want it. Like the director of your own movie, you can cast it and shape the plot as you see fit. You can author your life in a way that feels great and with characters who you want to surround yourself with.
The best is yet to come. And this time, it's of your own design.
Don't feel guilty about it and don't grieve too long. Embrace the message it sends to your soul: you're ready for something new that feels good!
Being alone - the flip slide of loneliness
As many on the self-growth path know: being alone can be a glorious thing. It sure beats spending time in the company of those you've outgrown (nothing can feel more lonely than being in a room full of people who no longer get you).
Getting to know the state of aloneness is like getting to know yourself again. You're your own company now. How do you treat yourself like a good friend? Figure out the ways you expect to be treated by others and begin practicing on yourself.
If bouts of loneliness creep in, so be it. It's okay to be lonely. It passes as you learn more to embrace the sacred beauty of aloneness.
It's a journey, not a destination.
There's nothing easy about walking your path of personal growth. Letting go of others, backlash, loneliness — it’s tough. But nothing is permanent. It's a process. If you trust in life, you'll find the right people, places and things will flow toward you naturally, with perfect timing. And you'll sleep better at night, knowing, that above all, you've been true to yourself and that's a rare thing. Well done.