Niamh Ennis: 'Making a change doesn't require your loved one's consent, but their support is invaluable'

Change can be a hard thing for our loved ones to understand, but those who make the effort to are the ones worth keeping, writes Niamh Ennis. 

This weekend, I needed to go for a COVID test so that I could be suitably prepared for a pending hospital visit. I’ll be honest, I worked myself into a complete tizzy about the test and if the truth be told it overtook my worries about the procedure I was due to have under general anaesthetic following the test.

Before I explain my own thinking behind this, let me dismiss any worries that you might have about having a COVID test done. I am incredibly squeamish and have a staggeringly low pain threshold but on a scale of 1-10, I would struggle to pitch it any higher than a 2. It was quick, a little uncomfortable but in no way painful.

Yet while I was gearing myself up for the test – doing the inevitable Google research on other people’s experiences – I couldn’t but notice the incessant scaremongering online about having this test done. It really begs the question as to why people feel it absolutely necessary to impart their version of a unique experience and make it as frightening as possible for those who are going to have to do it after them.


It feels in no way constructive, it in no way benefits anyone but them plus, in my own experience, it is entirely untrue. The only real person I can see that it serves is the attention seeker telling the story.

Drama Addiction

So why then do some people get such a thrill out of playing on the fears and worries of others? Is it because they relish the drama or do they believe they have an opportunity to knock others down a peg or two, to get them closer to their level?

That might sound a little cynical of me but let me expand my theory.

I believe that this addiction to drama is based on the exact same principle as why those closest to you may be the very ones who will object to your plans to change or to put better boundaries in. Does this sound true for you?

Are the only people who get truly upset about you setting boundaries or putting yourself first actually the ones who are benefiting from you having none? Think about that for a while.

We are all an awful lot busier talking about the need for more kindness and educating ourselves on social issues and it has contributed to a significant rise of tolerance on so many levels.


It is why I feel that so many of us finally felt able to exhale a collective sigh of relief with the result of the recent American presidential election, while also acknowledging that we need to stay focused on the work that must continue.

It really needs to be stated here that more often than not, when those closest to you put obstacles in your way, to prevent you from making changes or setting boundaries, they often do this entirely unconsciously.

They may possess a deep fear that if you embrace change into your life that you will need them less or that it simply highlights what’s missing in their own lives and your new boundaries will act like a mirror to their own shortcomings.


Setting Boundaries

All too often we view not just our own lives but the lives in black or white terms. If someone disagrees with your choices they must be right or you must be. You both cannot be.

Yet it is in these grey areas that often the real truth exists. When one person chooses to make changes in their life or tries doing things differently that is simply their choice.


It does not mean that those closest to you must be, or even need to be, fully on board with your choices. It isn’t necessary and equally, it should not matter.

Change is about changing to what feels right for you. It’s about getting clarity on what that might look like, but above all, it’s about identifying where you want to get to.

Of course you don’t want to do anything that will offend those closest to you but you have to be prepared that when you are changing your behaviour there is always a risk that it might. That’s when you need to really remind yourself why you’re making these changes in the first place.

Some people are selfish – there’s no point in pretending that’s not the case. They will pull out all the stops to scare people, they may even threaten them with emotional withdrawal when they see boundaries being put in place that might impact them negatively.

But the people we really want in our lives, are those who, despite the fact that our new ways might be unsettling for them, always want what’s best for us and offer their full support, even before they can fully understand what it is we are doing or why we are doing it.

They are not addicted to drama and they don’t try and keep us where they are used to having us.

They don’t need to test us and they certainly don’t need to make us afraid of being tested – whatever form that might take!



Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation Specialist and Founder of The RESET for Change 3 Month 1:1 Private Coaching Programme. Niamh works with women who feel stuck, who want to change but just don’t know where to start. She reconnects them with their sense of self-belief, courage and confidence. To work with Niamh on your own bespoke Private Coaching Programme for 2021 visit

Feature image: Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

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