I want to talk about something that I see happen all the time, whether we’re healing from betrayal, doing personal development work, whether we’re improving our health, mindset or more.

We have our group, our tribe, our partnerships. They’re our partners, our spouses, our friends. At some point in our lives, something within us happens that has us say, “You know what, I don’t want to do this anymore.” Let’s take a health journey for example. Maybe you decide that you want to eat better, you want to work out, or you want to make changes that improve the way you look, feel and perform. The changes you’ve started to make has you improving physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. This feels good to you but here’s the challenge…

Just because you’re making changes, doesn’t mean that your friend or partner is. This person is still where you were before you started, so what we often do is sabotage ourselves because it’s uncomfortable to outgrow the people we’ve been so comfortable with. It feels unfamiliar and it’s uncomfortable to outgrow our group, friends, partners…our tribe. We want to feel included and connected and the changes we’re making, although they’re in our best interest, has us feeling excluded and alone. We’ve done the work to bring us to a different way of thinking and feeling, yet the people we spend our time with are still going about their days with the same thoughts, behaviors and habits that no longer feel like a fit for who we’re becoming.

Because this new space is uncomfortable, we go back and forth between that new and exciting space of where we want to be and then revert back to old behaviors so that we’re still included and connected with the people we’re so familiar with.

Here’s what it looks like:

Let’s say everybody is drinking. Maybe you used to drink and being with others who drank felt completely natural and familiar to you. One day, you make a decision to stop drinking. While that feels like the right choice for you, and you’re feeling good about your changes, your friends are still drinking and it puts you in a difficult spot.

Or let’s say you’ve made the decision to eat healthier. You’ve made changes to your eating behaviors and you’re feeling good about it. Unfortunately, your food buddies are still eating the same foods that you no longer choose to eat and it’s becoming obvious that while you still enjoy their company, you’ve outgrown the bond that kept you connected. You want to spend time with your food buddies, you may even be secretly hoping that your new healthy lifestyle inspires them too. So, you keep meeting up with them, only to leave feeling excluded and alone because of the changes you’ve made and how differently you’re becoming.

Over time, this gets really frustrating, upsetting and discouraging. You struggle with the idea that you like where you’re headed, yet if you continue on this path, what will happen to your relationships? Although this was a great idea for you, it doesn’t mean that your friends/partners/coworkers are ready or have any interest in the path you’re choosing. Now you’re at a crossroads because continuing on your path, although it feels like the perfect fit for you, may mean that this newly emerging you is slowly outgrowing your old relationships.

So what can you do?

Here’s what I recommend. Do whatever it takes to stay so firmly committed and rooted to the changes you’re working towards. Stop sabotaging yourself so that you temporarily fit in with what you’ve outgrown.

Here’s why:

When you’re firmly rooted in your new space, what your old group does doesn’t really affect you that much anymore.You love them for who they are, it’s just not who you choose to be. There’s no pressure on them having to change or to have similar interests, and there’s no pressure on you to pick up old behaviors you’ve outgrown just so you fit in. With this decision, the pressure is removed, and there’s no need to sabotage yourself just so you feel included.

When you’re so committed to staying in that new space, here’s what also happens. Like energy attracts like energy so stay on this new path and it’s inevitable that you’re going to meet new people with similar goals and interests.

I was just speaking to somebody going through this. Her friends drink every weekend and she just doesn’t want to do that anymore. Without understanding what’s happening, this can be uncomfortable as we question why we don’t feel right with the same people we’ve had so much in common with before. We’re doing the work to change and grow, yet we keep sabotaging ourselves, so we don’t have to deal with the feeling that what used to feel right to us just doesn’t work for us anymore.

It’s not them, it’s us. We’re changing and that’s what’s creating the discomfort.

This leads to one last point about something I hear from clients almost daily, particularly after a bad breakup. They say: “I just want to be in a new relationship.” Getting into a new relationship before healing from the last one only leads to more of the same. Why? Because it’s the perfect opportunity to get yourself to your best place physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Meet someone too early and you’ll either sabotage your growth or outgrow each other if you choose to continue on your healing path. Meet someone at your best and you’ll attract a very different type of person than one you’d attract when you’re still dealing with physical, mental and emotional challenges left in the wake of your last relationship.

I hope this sheds light on what it often looks like when we outgrow partnerships, relationships, and friendships. When we understand it, it can be less confusing and uncomfortable as we find new ways to stay firmly on our path, while still appreciating those we’ve shared our time with along the way.

Has this happened to you? How have you dealt with it? I’d love to know, comment and share!

Dr. Debi

When Confusion is a Good Thing with Dr. Debi Silber