This common term with a subtle negative connotation is casually thrown around by friends, family & acquaintances, especially in periods where you’re undergoing growth or a transformation. Ask them how they feel you’ve changed though, and you’re likely to get opaque, vague answers.
I used to get pretty worked up when I used to hear this, but over time I’ve realised that this is not on me. People saying this don’t mean ill in any way, it’s just that :
- You’re outgrowing the version of you that they’re used to, comfortable with or that suits them better.
- They’re finding it difficult to accept that change.
- Their hostility to this change is just a smokescreen for fear.
When a large part of your life starts to change, our first instinct is fear. How is this going to affect me? The funny part is, we do it too. The unknown, brings about fear that we channel into hostility for the simplest things. When our favourite free software finally starts charging a small monthly subscription fee, we feel angry & betrayed, without understanding their point of view (that they’re a company building a service & they should be paid for that). When our neighbourhood coffee shop starts making changes to attract a different audience, we may express our hostility, say things like “oh the vibe has changed” and stop going there, not understanding the reason for their change.
Eventually, we’ll come around, understand what they were going through or what they were trying to do & if we want to, pay to keep using their software or to have their coffee. But the feedback loop is long & sometimes takes time to close. In some cases it might not, and that’s fine too.
It’s important to remember that people are never going to stop saying “You’ve Changed” & it might be a good idea to find a workaround, especially since these kind of remarks usually come from those closest to us (you’re a big part of their lives & you changing has a big affect on their lives too). There’s a few ways I’ve found that you can handle this:
- Have a “deal with it” attitude & continue living your changed life. This will work for you in the short term but might lead to regret in the longer term, especially if the relationships are important to you.
- Mould a version of you thats better suited to them, but this is just a way of delaying the pain. You won’t be able to keep up the ruse long enough & end up hurting them nonetheless.
- Stop changing & stay still, at a place where your relationships don’t feel threatened by your progress. This won’t work too as you’ll eventually grow resentful of them & destroy the relationship.
- Explain the motives behind your changed actions calmly & hope that they understand, if not now then at some point. Continue being there for your relationships without compromising on your changes & what you’re working on.
Change is never easy, but it’s the only constant & learning to deal with it in a healthy manner is something I’ve been working on.
The next time someone says “You’ve Changed” to me, I’m going to take it as a positive, because nothing good came out of staying still.