Whether consciously aware of it or not, we all want to feel alive, have soulful relationships and spend our time doing what feels meaningful.   We may not realize that our belief about change may prevent us from having what we most want and need in our lives.

We’ve all heard that we can’t expect other people to change. Either we accept people as they are, or we move on.

This one belief about change matters because it creates and leaves many people suffering in situations where they’re not thriving because nothing changes—or leaving relationships because of a lack of hope for change.

Perhaps we need to shift our belief about change and look at it from a different perspective – one that isn’t so black and white.

What if we believed that people are meant to change as we grow and evolve? Human beings are part of an intelligent universe. A universe that is constantly changing.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to view change as inevitable because it is.

The key to a soulful relationship with ourselves and others is based on the belief that we are personally meant to change, and so are our relationships. That doesn’t mean that we approach change from a place of being hard on ourselves or others. It arises from a deep acceptance of where we are currently with compassion and self-love so that we can grow from that place.

One of my clients said it so beautifully,

Perhaps what I needed to change was to accept myself as I am.

Even approaching change from that place doesn’t mean there’s not going to be discomfort. Because when we change, either personally or in relationships with others, we need to be prepared to squirm!

It’s discomfort in service of growth and evolution. The challenge is that there is a counterforce as we change because people are more comfortable with the familiar.

One of the ancient wisdom teachings reminds us that we achieve harmony through conflict, not by avoiding conflict.

I found it fascinating when I learned that there are apps that help parents track and encourage their children’s milestones. One app is called The Milestone Tracker. When asked why it’s essential to be mindful of this, the developers (CDC)  said, “They are signs of normal and healthy development, and when children don’t achieve them in the way we expect, it may be a sign of a problem.” In addition to providing milestones, it also highlights ideas about what parents can “do” to promote healthy development.

This got me curious and thinking about how we, as adults, most often view change and development. We seem to stop tracking as soon as people start to look like adults and are all grown up.

When we begin our adult responsibilities, the success of our development is often measured by external factors like how much money we make, what kind of job we have, and how educated we are. These are all things that have no relationship to internal development and meeting the needs of our souls.

This became very personal for me after I had gone through a period of growth. I went through a dark night of the soul and changed a lot. At the time, I had been married for many years to my high school sweetheart. I felt our relationship also needed to evolve, and what had worked for us in our early years was no longer working. I wanted and needed a more heartfelt connection and not live like we’re good roommates.

I wrote about this in my book, Awakening a Woman’s Soul:  The Power of Meditation and Mindfulness to Transform Your Life. After the book came out, I received feedback from people that the fact that I had changed was not exactly fair to my husband.

The comments arose from the belief that it’s not fair to other people when you change. They signed up to be with one person, and now that person has changed.

This is in stark contrast to the comments we hear about children who change so quickly and who we marvel at their growth and evolution. The opposite becomes true, and when they’re not changing, we get concerned that something’s wrong.

What if we brought that same mindset into our adult years and relationships? We are hard-wired to change, which means something is wrong if we don’t. This means we grow as individuals and in our relationships with others.

Without change, something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken. ~Frank Herbert

I hear it all the time from my clients. They feel disconnected from themselves, and they feel disconnected from their relationships. This disconnect is a big red flag that growth is needed. It’s required at the personal level and also within the relationship. The soul is hungry for something, and all the external stuff isn’t going to fill the void.

Human beings are forever in the process of becoming. We’re meant to integrate our soul lessons from the past and carry them forward as we transcend into who we’re meant to become. We are never meant to be stagnant and stuck – nor are our relationships.

So, in terms of change, it is reasonable to expect that we will change and that other people will change.

The key to successful change is becoming self-aware to know what our path for development is meant to be. The most powerful framework for developing that insight about ourselves and other people is the Enneagram of personality.

It helps us develop compassion for individual differences and discern a reasonable level of change for ourselves and others. For example, we cannot expect a person to abandon their core personality AND yet we can expect them to develop a “healthy” personality.

When it comes to change, however, the place to start is always with ourselves. We must do our “work” to evolve into the healthiest version of ourselves possible.

From that place, we begin to see more clearly our needs as it relates to other people.

Coming from a healthy place that honours your soul needs and not your inner child wounded needs, we can most certainly ask others to change. Knowing that we have a right to request and that they have a right to say “no.”

Regardless of what the other states, we’ll have developed an inner knowing to stand in the truth of our soul and, with a lot of grace, move forward with courage.

If you feel called, please leave a comment below. Our community would love to hear from you!