What to do when others don't want you to change: Snap-back attack!

You know the feeling, you're inspired, you're making a plan, you're taking small or big steps to doing something you really want to and then... you hit resistance. This time it's not from yourself, but from those close to you.

What's the go?

Aren't your nearest (work colleagues, barista) and dearest (friends and family) meant to be supportive and excited?

Well, not necessarily.

Sometimes people want you to stay exactly. as. you. are.

Don't change jobs. Don't do the course. 

Don't stop bitching about others.

Don't go on that trip. Don't move cities.

Don't spend less time online.

Don't take that soul leap. Don't chase that dream.

Don't look after yourself/ get fit and healthy.

Don't [fill in the blank].

They don't want you to change because for some reason, it works for them for you to stay as you are now. Generally it's because you changing challenges some unconscious belief that they have about their own life, their own possibilities or what is 'allowed'. It doesn't leave them feeling good (hint: not your problem).

What comes after you share your excitement is lovingly referred to as a 'snap-back attack'. As in, an attack to get you to go back to your previous thinking or actions.

Snap back attacks look like:

  • Snide remarks
  • Catastrophising (What if x, y and z happens?!!! Ahhh!)
  • Silent treatment
  • Anger
  • Guilt trips
  • Anything I've missed?

The thing with snap-back attacks is that they come in the form that is the most effective to getting you to change. People closest to you know what presses your buttons and press them. Hard.

So what do you do when you're changing or embarking on a change?

Well a simple idea I heard from the fabulous Michael Trotta is to share with people as you're changing, let them know what the change is and what it means to you.

That works for people that support you.

For those that are resistant to you changing it pays to be ready, lest you be de-railed.

  1. Go through the list above and see which things really press your buttons. Does the silent treatment work best? Anger? Put downs? What usually
  2. Recognise that none of these responses are about you, nor do they mean your change is not awesome. It's all about them.
  3. Share limited information about your change and only when you are ready to or need to. There is often a strangely strong desire to tell the people that will be the most likely to inflict a snap-back attack about our changes. RESIST! You are probably trying to seek their approval (you don't need it).
  4. Share with people that are super supportive. If you don't have people like that, join a MeetUp or make one! Gather your new tribe - research shows it's more likely your change will be successful.
  5. When you are ready to share your change with those who may not initially (or ever) be supportive, BE PRESENT in your conversation. Notice the snap-back attacks and try to take them lightly. If they really press your buttons, that's okay, just notice, look after yourself and press on with your change. Next time, you'll laugh at their attempts. If there is something useful amongst the crap, take that bit and drop the rest.

Aint nothin' gonna break my stride... many people will come around after a while. If they don't, they might need to find another fire to put out.

Go get em tiger!

With love,
Lara xx

Hi, I'm Dr Lara Corr, life coach and researcher in work and wellbeing. I coach successful 30 and 40 somethings who want more fulfilling or bigger careers but doubt themselves and their options. I help them get out of their own way, find direction and go for what they really want.

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