Undergoing personal change is a difficult experience. When we change we have to accept that others won’t accept us after we hit that tipping point where we have converted. We also have to accept that we will lose friends, how we see the world will be different, we will have to unlearn some things, and we will move on from our pasts. Sometimes we might suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and our present is tied to our past in an abusive symbiosis.
So how do we go about change? For one, if we feel the need to change in an intentional way we don’t do it on the backs of others. There is a lot to process emotionally and cognitively. If we go about the project using others to process that change we risk extracting their value for our own purposes. If I am trying to change my life there is likely some harm I may have done to other people.
The idea of “fake it ’til I make it” does not mean be something I am not but to behave in ways that help me to change in a positive way. In other words I have to be honest and sometimes brutally so. I have to open myself up and be vulnerable to the consequences of my past in order to set things rightly. Only then can I truly move on. But if I pose as something I am not I only lie to myself and others. Have I really changed at that point or am I just moving my previous behaviors to a different spot?
While I risk losing friends because I am no longer like them because we share less in common than we did before, I don’t want to lose friends by causing more harm. Not being honest with people can cause the friends who are dissociating themselves from me to feel betrayed. Not being honest with the people who are becoming my friends will leave them wondering who I really am. In either case I risk losing trust and respectability with anyone.
People are amazingly forgiving. People respect honesty even if that honesty is a jagged pill to swallow. Maybe instead of pretending to be something we are not, we need to be honest with who we are right now and work through change patiently. Maybe the best course of action is to help other people and seek counsel with a trusted friend or therapist before we set out like a bull in a China shop to tell the world how much we have grown at the expense of others. If a new flower is in bloom why pull it up from the soil just to show everyone its new roots?