How to overcome your loved ones’ sea change resistance
Love ‘em or not, your family and friends are important and their opinion matters. One of the biggest sea change stumbling blocks is the stress caused by those who are dead against the idea.
Maybe you’re caring for ageing parents or your teenage children don’t want to move. Perhaps your brother, sister or closest friends think you’re crazy for throwing in a well paid job, nice home and stability for a dream that may not work out.
Regardless, left unmanaged, even vaguely negative reactions from your nearest and dearest run the risk of derailing your sea change. As family or close friends share their doubts or downright opposition to your news, you begin to think they just may be right.
Certainty and excitement turn to doubt and fear. Rather than risk their disapproval, you’re tempted to shelve your dreams and settle for the safer, ‘stay put’ option.
Of course, your family and friends could be incredibly supportive and encouraging, doing all they can to help you. If so, fantastic! The more active supporters you have, the easier it will be.
But with harsh critics and doubters on your sea change cheer squad, making the move will be so much harder.
Why are they so negative?
Before we tackle the ‘how’ of managing difficult reactions, it’s helpful to understand why others may be responding negatively to your sea change.
Its’ not all about you!
On hearing your sea change news, the first question your loved ones’ will wonder is, “What does this mean for me?” If you’re moving away and they aren’t part of the move, they’ll miss you a lot. Their lives and routines will change as well.
If they are part of the change, the implications may be very scary, particularly if they feel they have no choice. They’ll anxiously point out lots of practical and emotional flaws with your plan, urging you to reconsider.
It’s a big risk – what if it all goes horribly wrong?
As humans we’re far more risk averse than risk ready. Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves and those we love from potential harm. Because your sea change doesn’t come with an iron-clad guarantee, your loved ones will fear the unknown for you. (But you won’t be able to get your old job back, if it doesn’t work out!)
They naturally want to keep you safe and mistakenly believe that maintaining the status quo will keep you (and them) out of harm’s way.
We’d love to do that too but can’t because…
Some of your nearest and dearest may harbor an secret desire to change their own lifestyle, yet can’t see how they’d do it. They admire your courage and may be a little envious, but the thought of doing something similar seems impossible.
Given they share common goals, values, beliefs and interests, they mistakenly believe it wouldn’t be right for you either.
The Staying or Going Reality
Change will happen anyway – regardless of whether you make a sea change or not. Relationships and life evolve and things won’t stay the same forever. Even if you stay, your job will change, as will your neighbourhood and the lives of your family.
The best way for your loved ones to feel reassured and confident about what you’re doing is to see you’ve carefully thought it all through. They need to know you’ve planned it well and feel calm and confident yourself.
3 Simple Ways to Win Them Over
1. Be clear and confident in your own mind first.
Take time to clarify why you want to make a lifestyle change. Then create your own Sea Change Criteria Checklist and do your research so you can a) make informed decisions and b) easily explain why you’ve chosen the location and lifestyle you want.
Once you’re certain, anticipate your loved ones’ most likely queries or concerns. Prepare considered responses to address their fears and be ready to discuss it in an open, calm and confident way.
2. Decide on the best time to break your sea change news:
If your relationships are close and strong, involve them early, before it’s a ‘done deal’.
Ask their opinion on the ‘how’ questions, rather than the ‘what’ (eg, ‘Dad, it you were moving to the country, how long would you rent before you bought a new place?‘). This presupposes you are going ahead with your sea or tree change and you’d appreciate their constructive ideas and suggestions to enure its success.
If your family relationships aren’t close and trusting, postpone telling them until after the big decisions are made and the plans are sorted. You then have the option of asking for help with the smaller practicalities (eg, ‘Dad, which removalist would you recommend we use for our interstate move?‘).
Remember, once the ‘cat is out of the bag’ and you’ve told one person, news travels fast.
Most importantly… tell the right people first.
Often family and close friends will be more hurt being the ‘last to know’ or hearing it from someone other than you. This is where the ‘telling’ is more important than the news itself. Whole family gatherings may be convenient but parents and children will appreciate being told first.
3. Simply say, ‘Thank You’ to every reaction you receive.
There’s no need to defend or justify your decision. As soon as you start trying to explain it or convince them, you’ll likely be ‘talked at’ until you change your mind.
Listen calmly and respectfully and seek to understand, without buying into the emotional pressure that often accompanies criticism. Play back what you think you’ve heard and thank your loved one/s sincerely for caring.
Sometimes our loved ones just need time to get used to big change. If you’ve been talking about your sea change for some time, they won’t be surprised. Point out the positives and allow them to work through their reactions.
If tense push back from your family is blocking your sea change, my book The Great Life Redesign, has a whole chapter dedicated to making family resistance even easier to resolve.
And for those who stubbornly refuse to budge, no matter what you do or say? The best way to win them over is to make your sea change a total success!