How many pictures on social media, articles in magazines or adverts have you seen in the past week that have made you feel less than good about yourself? Or question your self-worth because of comparisons?
Society constantly makes us feel as though we need to “reinvent” ourselves. Evolving and changing are natural things for humans to want to do, and they are healthy. But they are only healthy if they are done in the spirit of “I want to change but I am also OK as I am” rather than from a sense of deficiency or feeling that there is something to “fix”.
I think of these kind of healthy changes as being different “versions” of ourselves. Think of it like a computer software upgrade. The previous version still works well, but the newer version just slightly has the edge on functionality.
Big life events can prompt these updates – a divorce or bereavement, say, or we start a new job or move to a different location. Or we might reach a point where we have a greater insight as to what is important to us.
Yet, even if we work hard to understand what we want to change and feel like we are on a new path, we can get dragged back into the old version of us. So before we start on this journey, let’s look at the sort of obstacles we can come up against – and how we can manage them so we can be the version of ourselves that we want to be.
Those we have relationships with inevitably hold a certain version of us in their heads based on previous experience – maybe how we have responded to them before, what we have accepted from them and what our likes and dislikes are. When we try to present Version 2.0 to them, they can get confused, angry, feel threatened, or even refuse to accept it. Because we have changed the rules, they are now unsure of how to be with us. They are stepping into the unknown.
Instead of us feeling hard done by, or getting cross with them, it is more useful to understand why they are reacting like that, and to have more self-awareness about the story underlying their responses. Be consistent and firm in your approach and remind yourself of who you are now and why you wanted to make these changes in the first place.
You may well experience a sense of trepidation and anxiety about presenting this new version of yourself to others. Just as a band or singer goes away to reinvent themselves for a new studio album, and present a different persona to their fans, so you are doing the same. Not every fan will like that new album. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be made.
You may have fears around being accepted by others, you may feel anxious about doing things differently, and these fears can stop you in your tracks. This is fine if it is temporary, but don’t let fear rule you. Think about all the hard work you have done to change things up and to get out there being that new version of you. Notice your fears, but don’t listen to them. Remember your why.
As with any new “software”, you have to give yourself the time and space to learn about this new version of yourself. No change comes easily. Be patient with yourself. If you find yourself slipping back into old ways, don’t criticise yourself, don’t be unkind and don’t think there is no point in persisting.
Once you decide to change some aspect of yourself and you are clear about why you are doing it, it will happen – so just be patient and time will show you that all your hard work and efforts were worth it.