I feel like I cannot relate to anyone I know

I was talking to a client yesterday who said, ‘the more I work on myself the more it feels like I cannot relate to the people I know’. This included family as well as friends.

This is a pretty common thing to happen when you work with a coach or are focusing on your personal development/growth.

The reason is because the people in your life when you started your journey are used to the ‘old’ you; the one with less self-awareness, the one with the multilayered masks, the one who felt insecure, and the one who believed there had to be something more than the surface level feelings.

As you shift and change, people who knew you before this time can sometimes back away from you or dissociate from you because you are not who you used to be. It can feel very isolating, especially if you want to take some of those people with you on your personal development journey or you want them to step into doing their own personal development work.

I remember on my own journey talking to my Mum about coaching and she didn’t get it. She didn’t understand why I wanted to become a coach and not a counsellor. She had been a counsellor for almost 20 years and everything I said I did as a coach she said she used to do as a counsellor. She was a damn good counsellor.

When I spoke to my client I assured him this is pretty common and normal and he had some choices about what to do about this situation:

  1. Keep an open dialogue with others you are close to about what you are doing and how things are shifting and changing in your life, which can start to become a catalyst for them to get curious about themselves.
  2. Start connecting with people who are doing their own personal development work. Social network groups can be a good way to do that, especially at the moment while we are all socially distancing.
  3. Continue with your own journey into self-discovery and get more curious about what is possible. Going deeper into the uncomfortable feelings are where the richer and deeper emotions are that can give us information about other areas we want or need to work on. This is also when the biggest shifts in healing and personal growth happen.

In reality it isn’t so much a choice but an amalgamation of all 3 that come into play.

While doing all of these it is crucial to take time for self-care – do not overlook this step otherwise you can end up burning out emotionally, which runs the risk of stopping your personal development journey dead in its tracks. Self-care can come in many forms:

1. Journalling – this can help you to clear the thoughts out of your head.

2. Slowing down and taking some time out to breathe and be present in the moment – this helps to soothe some of the pain so you can go back in and keep on the journey. Hurting is exhausting and sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step back, breathe, and then come back when you have gathered yourself. If you are working with a coach they may help you stay in this discomfort for longer because you have someone with you to hold that supporting and loving space so you can hurt without being alone.

3. Placing your hand on your chest over your heart. Say out loud or in your head as you do this ‘while this hurts, I know I am safe and this hurt is healing’.

4. Seek the company of those you can openly share with. If you feel alone on your personal development journey a coach can certainly create a supportive and caring space for you. That is what I do for my clients, which allows for all of their emotions to be present, even the ones that scare them. I continue to do my own personal development work so that I can be present with my clients in their emotional turmoil.

For number 3, placing your hand over your heart, there are many benefits. Placing your hand on your heart has been shown scientifically to release oxytocin, one of the feel good hormones. During times of personal development, especially when dealing with harder and more painful emotions, oxytocin is going to be needed in abundance. Placing your hand on your heart is a great way to physically tell your body you are safe. Add the sentence telling yourself outloud you are safe even though this hurts, adds a mental reenforcement to the physical.

When you feel overwhelmed your body cannot distinguish between a physical or emotional threat so your brain fires up and wants to shut you down emotionally to protect you – it’s that primal part of the brain that for evolutionary purposes has kept us safe, but it looks after us physically not mentally. Placing your hand on your heart gives your body a feedback loop that you are safe and it is ok to feel this pain inside. The more you can allow that pain to be processed, the more healing that happens.


If you, or someone you know, is curious about exploring personal growth and development, and want a safe space to do that, please get in touch.

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