The Emotional Cost of Change in Relationships

Making changes around in your life?  I bet you have calculated the cost of these changes, and probably even figured out who will oversee the change.  Maybe you even figured out a time estimate of how much of your schedule will be devoted to implementing the change.  However, what I am betting is that what you have overlooked is the emotional cost of the change.

Humans, as a species, tend to like homeostasis.  We are actually physically and mentally designed to maintain internal balance and equilibrium.  Translation?  We like stuff to be familiar and not too far off from our usual operating style.  Things that are different from our expected equilibrium tend to throw us off.  Change, by definition, involves difference.

We tend to account for the “cost” of change when we are doing something like implementing a new record keeping system at our office.  Implementing a new record system typically means training, practice on the new system before it launches and then support from the vendor on making the change.  The overlooked item, however, is the emotional impact on the staff.  The new system means change, and change means difference, which inherently means balance is off for your staff.  This is why even the slickest, nicest new systems get complaints and resistance to use.  Accounting for the emotional imbalance of the new system means giving staff some room to miss the old system while embracing the new one.

One of the most glaring places we forget to account for the emotional cost or savings of something is in our relationships.  Making new friends, dating new people (yikes!), going home for summer vacation to see our family, or in some cases, the importance of letting go of a toxic person in our life.  Fantastic relationships make all the difference in our lives.  Healthy connections generally mean feeling happy!  However, navigating new, different or even old relationships (hello, high school reunion!)  can bring up a wide variety of emotions.

When you are making relationship changes, it is especially important to take your emotional “temperature.”  How do your relationships make you feel?  Warm and fuzzy and loved?  Or threatened and anxious that you’re not good enough.  Do you find yourself reverting to your rebellious teenage self when you go home for a visit?  Do you suddenly feel terrible about yourself when you’re trying to get ready for a new date?  (Hint: you’re nervous, you look fine!). Or is there someone who always behaves badly and you are ready to stop indulging their bad behavior?  Knowing your patterns and letting go of the toxic folks will improve your emotional well-being.  Instead of being an emotional cost, you can reap an emotional savings!

Make sure you are examining the emotional cost or benefit to your relationships.  That way the next time you are interacting with others, you can easily know yourself and your patterns.  You will know what not-so-perfect behaviors in others you will tolerate and what you won’t.  This will make changes like making new friends, or changing the nature of your relationships, cost less.  Change can be necessary and important, even in relationships, but it doesn’t have to be costly in the emotional realm if you are remembering to account for that cost.