Guilt, needs, and judgment from your loved ones
As social entities, we exist as part of a group. This group welcomes us into the world and teaches us how to behave, what to believe, what to feel, and how to communicate. These behaviors, feelings, ideas, and language have one thing in common: they protect and sustain the well-being of the group.
We build our identity from the constant conflict between our need to feel unique and our need to fit in. Our reference group establishes a set of rules that work as a structure for our decisions. Our personal experiences offer information to assess this structure and tweak it as best serves our needs.
In an ideal situation, our reference group (a.k.a. Family and friends) loves us in a way that offers us the space and support to differentiate our personality. In reality, humans want to preserve the status quo and change feels scary. Because we love our friends and family, we will let them make our decisions and will try to make their decisions as well.
One of the biggest challenges you can encounter when you want to dismantle your outer structure is understanding that it is tangled with your meaningful relationships.
Think about family, close friends, your partner. Sometimes, meeting your needs will create pain to others, it will make them disappointed in you, they will feel the need to correct you through judgement, and they might use your decisions as an excuse to be right instead of relating with you from compassion.
They might leave you by yourself in one of the most crucial moments of your life because they can’t handle your decisions. They will say they love you while they only love their idea of you, they are just not ready to see who you really are.
As you don’t live to their expectations, you might experience guilt. It is a heavy feeling to know you are not fulfilling somebody else’s expectations. After all, your parents, your family, your closest friends have been the source of your outer structure. They have taught you who they need you to be.
This doesn’t mean you will lose them forever.
You might, I won’t lie to you.
But the magic of Congruency is that it inspires others. Maybe your parents need some time to understand your transition. Maybe your spouse needs distance to let go of their expectations. And maybe they will all come back, love in their eyes and compassion in their hearts, to embrace you and get to know you again.
Sometimes you do lose them. Besides doing everything you can to be true to your love for them, there is not much else you can control about what they think, feel, or act regarding your choices. This will be a terrible loss, worthy of grief and mourning. Letting go hurts. However, it also opens the possibility to find your tribe of bumblebees (watch video below.)
Addressing your needs is the ultimate expression of responsibility
Remember James? He left his job to spend more time with his wife. His wife left him to spend more time with her new boyfriend. They both learned to live on a lower budget and a higher spirit. They co-parent respectfully, and they both love their lives.
It was not easy. It hurt. A lot. James second guessed himself every day for many months, until he felt strong enough to set off to a honest search of his needs.
Honesty is the voice that comes from self-respect, freedom from other people's expectations and from knowing that the only way you can create value is by creating well-being for yourself. Honesty means being capable of speaking your truth even when it disappoints your own expectations.
Unmet needs create a feeling of permanent insatisfaction. You might become critical to your loved ones, you might feel offended and hurt all the time. Whatever they do, you might experience it as an intentional attempt to harm you.
If becoming an adult means that we are capable of taking care of ourselves, identifying our needs and addressing them is the ultimate expression of responsibility: as we create well-being for our life, we support our family and friends as they create their own.
Using other people’s expectations to make your decisions means that they are the ones choosing. How can you assume full responsibility of your actions when somebody else is dictating them? Guilt and blame are the two sides of the same coin, it’s just a matter of chance where you stand at a given conflict.
Who is making your decisions?
Are you making decisions for others?
Read the next post in the series Four ways to silence other people’s judgments in your head >>
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