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Change: Acknowledging, Accepting, and Allowing

“Don’t ever change.”

I think it is wise to critically consider this request.

Sure, there may be people out there who see you and value you for exactly who you are, and love you just for that. There are also likely people who just don’t want you to outgrow them.

They say that people don’t change. In some ways, I guess that’s true. The essence of who you are is innately and uniquely you. But the things you believe and the ways you behave are always subject to review and revision — if you are open to it.

So many of the ways that we react to things began from our experiences as children. The things we were taught and the ways that we felt when everything was new and we were forming our sense of self; the perceived conditions for survival and love, and what our social environment told us was acceptable. Thus, some of our thought and behavioral patterns are so old and run so deep that we can mistakenly identify them as being ‘just how I am’. Sometimes those things are not really who you are per se, but rather are a reflection of what you’ve been taught or how you’ve been hurt.

At this point, there is a fine line to walk. When coming upon some of these old patterns, it is important to be compassionate with ourselves. Some of what we were taught came from legitimately well-meaning people; some of the ways we were hurt, perhaps not as much. Some of each may have come from people unknowingly projecting their own ‘stuff’. But where it came from is now far less important than what you want to do with it. Just know that every defense mechanism ever formed began with a feeling we didn’t want to feel, and don’t want to feel again. However much you don’t like something about yourself, or recognize that it is no longer serving you, it came about as protection, and so should be given its due respect and gratitude. (Without meeting it in that space, rest assured, it is going nowhere, and no amount of goal-setting will get you around it!)

So it is important to walk that line between accepting who you are, and wanting to change. To have patience and love for even the aspects of yourself you may desperately wish were different. To recognize ‘that’s just how I am’ when it is a true statement rooted in self-awareness, and when it is a cop-out for things you just don’t want to face or feel.

Changing isn’t about being pliable or moldable based on the desires of others; you are not obligated to be a chameleon to suit other people’s expectations. Change is about growth and adaptability; being aware and malleable in response rather than reaction to an external world that changes with or without you. Be aware of your resistance to change — is it based in love or fear? Is this change you feel within yourself a deviation from who you are, or a return to it? The more grounded you feel in who you are, the more you are able to actually adapt to anything, and the less inclined you feel to simply change to please.

As you grow there may be people who don’t understand the journey you are on or the ways you have changed. That is both okay and not your problem. No matter how much they have enjoyed your company, or you theirs, you are not required to continue being an outdated version of yourself to maintain any relationship.

Those who truly know and love you will celebrate your growth; those who don’t may have to be let go, for you may no longer feel able to play the role in their lives that you have previously occupied. You owe no one an apology for your growth — and the only permission you need must come from within.

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