Updated: Apr 17
Growth is never easy.
It means being vulnerable and taking risks. There’s a chance of failure. We feel awkward and uncomfortable because we’re stepping into the unknown. Our abilities get challenged and stretched.
As if that isn’t tough enough, then, there are the people who would much prefer we stay where we are. They bitch and moan. They say things to denigrate us or make us feel guilty. They don’t want us to grow. This can be especially hard when it’s those we love who are opposed to it. The unfortunate fact is, our family is likely to have the strongest objections to our growth. They're comfortable with who we are and don't want things to change. And for this reason, many of us stay stuck instead of moving forward.
I get it!
It can be extremely difficult to make changes that upset those closest to us. We want to move forward while at the same time wishing to not hurt our loved ones. There may be many reasons they are opposed to our growth. I cannot speak for them here. What I can speak to is the struggle between expanding your horizons and not letting down those you love because I’ve been there. And that place is overwhelmingly stressful and excruciatingly painful, especially when you’re a Sensitive.
My own situation began when my life fell apart after the death of my first husband. I ended up broke and homeless, but luckily family members took me in. I was pretty beaten down, but I still had hope for the future. Day by day, week by week, month by month, my family boosted me up. It took a couple of years and some heavy-duty confidence building before I was truly ready to venture out on my own again. The problem was, by that point, some family members were not interested in letting me go. One individual had grown extremely attached to having me around all the time. Even when I moved into my own place, this person would want to come over and do things for me. And while I was extremely grateful for their assistance, I began to feel smothered.
This is what happens when you’re ready to grow. Things start to feel itchy, uncomfortable, stagnant. You yearn to move forward.
The situation finally came to a head when this family member began interfering in a new relationship I had entered. They had already done this once before, but this time, I refused to tolerate it. It ended in a huge blowout. Words were said and lines were crossed. Family members took sides. And in the end, I had to make a decision – walk away from a relationship with this new man I adored to appease my family member or stay the course and upset my family.
Oh, how I struggled with this! It took a chance encounter with this family member to make me realize that no matter what happened in my life, if there was a chance it would limit the time I could spend with this individual, they would interfere with it. That’s when I knew! If I wanted to grow, I needed to choose myself over my family member.
I will tell you it was still a difficult decision and I agonized over it for weeks. I ended up sending a no contact letter to this individual in order to get my point across. None of my more subtle requests for change had worked in the past, so I felt that something more dramatic was needed. This created a rift in the family that left me an outcast. No one from my immediate family speaks to me anymore. They felt like I was choosing a man over family. I feel like I chose my needs over the needs of this other family member. Other family members felt my obligation should have been towards family, especially this individual because of the help they had given me. However, I know I did the right thing – for ME! My stress levels went down because I was no longer torn between my needs and someone else’s. My confidence went up because no one was coming behind me, second guessing my decisions.
My family called me selfish. But taking care of yourself is not selfish. It’s necessary. No one else is ever going to have your best interest at heart as much as you will (or should). When someone refuses to honor your boundaries or change their behavior, they do not respect you, no matter how much they may love you. And, when someone attempts to sway your decisions on something, they believe they know better than you. In their eyes, you are too (naïve, incompetent, …) to make your own decisions.
I may have lost my family, but I gained something far more powerful… respect for myself! I am no longer a consummate people pleaser. I establish boundaries and defend them fiercely. I know my capabilities and I don’t let anyone tell me differently. Do I miss my family? Of course, but I also recognize their attitudes towards me are not what I want or need in my life. I can love them (and always will), but I do not need to associate with them. They are not my tribe.
So, when you are ready to grow and come up against some resistance, know you have a decision to make. Do you do what’s best for you? Or do you do what’s best for someone else? One leads to freedom. The other leads to stagnation and dissatisfaction. You choose.