Becoming your authentic self can be hard work. It’s easy on your own and when around like minded people, the challenge comes when you need to go back to those who knew you before, when you were wearing your mask. Their expectation for you to remain the same can be unrelenting, like teenage peer pressure on steroids.
You know that you’ve come a long way and that you’ve changed, but that’s not of interest to them. Like all of us, their world revolves around them and how things in it affect them.
Becoming conscious and authentic can be isolating as you begin to move forward at a different speed to others. Invitations to events that were once enjoyable now seem empty, nothing more than a rerun, the same old patterns and conversations playing out. Reminders of past behaviour and habits that you want to let go of, complaints and negative talk when you want to be impeccable with your word, bitching about friends or family when you’re trying to be non-judgemental, and attempts to cling to relationships and friendships that sap your energy. You keep trying to steer the conversation in a more positive direction but it’s challenging.
You need to realise it’s more than just what’s being said, you’re actually trying change the terms of the relationship and even if the change in you is fabulous and obvious, some people who knew the old you will be more comfortable sticking with the old familiar patterns.
When you try to make a change from the status quo they don’t get it. They’re not on your journey. All they hear is “no”. You feel guilty for saying no, yet your gut knots at the thought of backing down. Why? Because by standing your ground you’re actually saying “yes”. Yes to your personal code of honour, yes to your own spiritual growth, yes to walking away from what no longer serves you.
There’s no easy way to handle these situations, they still come up for me well over a decade since my major shift. Friends who don’t want to change the pattern, who can’t think outside meeting on the old terms. Sometimes I’m prepared and other times I’m caught off guard, either way my approach is the same - symbolism and honesty.
If you can step back (or up as it feels to me) to review the situation symbolically and become the observer, you can almost see the energy playing out between you. You’re trying to stay centred and grounded while they’re trying to draw you into their drama and lead you back to their comfort zone. As you watch this unfold you realise there is a lesson in this relationship, as there is in all relationships. You now need to have the courage and patience to find out what that lesson is.
Time to ask (in a non-judgemental, meditative state), what is the pattern of this relationship? What are you learning from being in a relationship with this person? What are they learning from you? And then, most importantly, how best can you establish new terms for the relationship?
Next comes time for the honesty. Have you openly and clearly expressed your need to change previously? Really? If the answer is an honest yes then it’s time to be upfront again about your need for change and your reasons behind it.
In some relationships this will still not be enough and you'll find yourself being asked to justify saying no to something that you know will make you miserable, that won’t feed your soul, and that will deplete your personal power. “To do that would not be honouring my spirit” was my most recent (and final) answer. It felt harsh and there was a clear shift in energy but it worked, despite me thinking it shouldn’t have to be that hard.
I’m sure it won’t be the last time but I know it will be a little easier next time. I’ll be readier, more prepared and stronger because I’ve done it before and also because I know in honouring my spirit I have moved another step closer to my authentic self.
Breaking free of old patterns is hard but not difficult. You simply need to meet it head on with honesty, love and acceptance. Look for the lessons in the relationship so you’re both getting what you really need from each other. It’s much more satisfying than just wishing things would change.
Try it. Each time you stand your ground and honour your spirit you strengthen your willpower, building it like a muscle that becomes stronger each time you use it. The more you practice the better you’ll get, and soon you’ll be well on your way to living your authentic life, filled with the things you want to do. No regrets.