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Don't compromise your personal growth

Outgrowing and surpassing mentors, family, friends, and various types of relationships can create a dilemma.

When we heal, we grow. When we grow, we expand, we upgrade. Growth also shifts our energy and environment. And as our environment and priorities change, so do the people in our lives. For example, if you've adopted a healthy lifestyle, your tolerance for weekend benders may decline significantly. In my roaring twenties, I could always count on two to three friends that would join me at happy hour daily. We didn't hang out much beyond that. Fast forward to present day, I'm not a drinker and haven't hung out with those friends in years.

A big part of our environment is the family system. Within a family there are various people who are all moving and growing at various different rates. There’s this fear that as you move forward on your path, the people you love won’t come with you. That you’ll outgrow them. That you’ll be leaving them behind. That fear never stopped me from moving forward in an attempt to accomplish my goals. Accomplishing my goals meant using a tremendous amount of resources outside of my familial structure. My family just didn't have the knowledge to take me to the levels I wanted to achieve.

Today, I feel hated for doing what I needed to do to acquire that knowledge. When I attend family gatherings, it's like sitting through an annual review, except it's a review of my teenage years. I'm reminded of which members let me live with them when I was 12. And which ones bought me clothes when I was 13. I hear repeatedly that if it hadn't been for those 'selfless' extensions of love, I wouldn't be where I am today. The replay of these quasi-selfless acts is enough to send my positive energy in the wrong direction.

Just imagine you've been trained by a mentor. You've now surpassed that mentor and have a role that they were never able to achieve. Now, every time your mentor comes around, they tell everyone within an ear's shot, "I taught him everything he knows. You know he wouldn't have gotten this role without my help!" And the icing on the haven't engaged with this mentor in decades. Hearing the broken record year after year gets real old real fast!

When you outgrow a mentor or family member, surpass them in their skills, or simply establish your own level of sufficiency and independence to function as their equal, forming a new type of relationship can be difficult (mostly because they have a hard time seeing you as anything other than their subordinate). Mentors and family members can be lifesavers — until they're not anymore. The people who criticize you, fight you, or pull away might actually be envious of the changes that you’re making. As you shine brighter, you force the people around you to look at their own lives. That can be quite unnerving for someone who’s choosing to stay small and stuck.

Author of The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power said, "We don't have to be bound by loyalty in every relationship, especially when we've accomplished what we need to accomplish." "Being excited about your next steps does not mean you are being disloyal."

If you’re into personal development then you know the power of your thoughts, focus, and words. You understand the importance of keeping each of these away from the negative. You may have family or friends who are pessimistic and always thinking and talking about negative things. They criticize, complain, make excuses, and become depressed. In the past, you may have joined right in with them. But you’ve grown and today you are no longer a pessimist, but rather an eternal optimist. What do you do with these people? Well, if a person is toxic, the decision to remove them from your life becomes easier. If a person simply doesn't elevate you, the decision becomes complex.

Some mentors, family members or friends may not be explicitly toxic, but aren’t particularly supportive, inspiring, or engaging. These are harder relationships to manage, because the cost of maintaining them isn’t terribly high, but neither are the benefits. These middling relationships can be quite damaging, because they tend to languish without a clear purpose, sometimes for years. They suck up precious energy, but they aren’t painful enough to decisively end. They provide comfort and stimulation, but not enough to contribute to your growth. So, again, I ask, "What do you do with these people?

The key criterion here is whether these relationships embody your new values.

Whatever the case, whatever the relationship, don't force it. The thing is, whether you're the one doing the growing, or the one being outgrown, you have to realize it is always okay to move in a different direction. That’s the responsibility of growth. Personal aspiration has to give way to responsibility.

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