The Old You - Christine Kane

At some point, when you begin getting velocity and transforming your life at every level, someone is going to say it.

It could be a co-worker. Maybe an unhappy partner or spouse.  Maybe even your best friend or sister.

It’ll be slipped into a conversation in a seemingly harmless moment.

Someone will say something longingly about “The Old You.”

“I miss the Old You.”

“It’s nice to see the Old [Insert your Name Here] is back.”

“The Old You would never have said that.”

Old You statements have many levels of meaning.  It’s hard to know exactly what is being said. But let’s take a stab at it:

“Gee, I wish you’d go back to the days when you had no boundaries because it was much easier to prioritize my day without having to think of your schedule.”

“You used to not threaten me. I liked you better then.”

“Now that you have all these dreams you’re creating, it’s making me think of where I’m not following my own.”

“I miss connecting with you, and I don’t know how to do that other than with a slight dig to get your attention.”

“I’m scared you’ll leave me behind, so I’m going to see if I can get to you because even a bad connection is a connection.”

How you deal with The Old You moment is up to you.  But I promise you one thing:  The minute you defend yourself, the game is on.  The hook is in. You’ve done exactly what their comment was designed to get you to do:

You’ve reacted.

After all, it’s tender territory when you make the changes you’re making.  It’s a vulnerability that few people relish, and fewer people deliberately intend.  And no one, least of all you, knows where any of it is leading.  You just know you’re in the right place, and that you want to keep growing because you’ve never felt so alive.

So, respond to Old You remarks with care.  Have compassion. Smile.

And then quietly remind yourself:

There IS no Old You.

There’s no New You either.

There is only Essential You – always becoming, always surprising, always in this present moment.

  • Lyte

    I am reminded of that old book title “What You Think of Me is None of My Business.”

    Seeking the approval of others is a game you can’t win. Eventually you won’t measure up to their standards (which are often hidden or changing.) They don’t even really see the New You – they have freeze-dried you into their image of what they thought you were. And they didn’t really know the Old You either – only their idea of you, not the reality of the totality of you… which included the potential for who you are now.

    You can’t change them… you can only change you. Where are you holding onto YOUR old patterns of seeking their approval? Are you willing to let go of the past? And if you are true to yourself and give them the space to be who they are, maybe they’ll come along for the ride.

  • Laura

    Wow, this is scarily timely. Just had a blow-out with my bff who crossed some boundaries, scheduled me for something major before asking my opinion. The old me would have let her, believing she was smarter than I am anyway and I should just go along with her smarter opinion. Really didn’t think this was a good idea this time, so I acknowledged a new mindset on my part.

    Unfortunately, the “New me” hasn’t quite gotten the “Essential me” memo yet. I reacted badly, got myself twisted into a corkscrew and yelled at her. She’s stubborn, knows what buttons to push, how calling me “defensive” and pointing out my faults in “here’s some constructive criticism because I care” way will work.

    So now I have to figure out how to patch this up without backing down on my belief in myself. Any thoughts, friends?

  • Barb

    “There IS no Old You.
    There’s no New You either.
    There is only Essential You – always becoming, always surprising, always in this present moment.”
    THANK YOU for providing me with this answer about the Essential self – really helpful.

  • Pamela

    This post is really timely for me so thank you as it’s helped greatly.

  • Rich

    It is was interesing to read this comment and how people resonded to your post. It is very often that I tell people that I miss the old you and that you used to be more fun. Very often I noticed maybe they are still the same person and maybe I have changed. Maybe they have grown and I have remained in the same old mindset and not adapted. This could be a reason why it is important to reflect and think are the one who has changed or am I the one who has failed to adapt and grow.


    dang, did I need to read this today!
    Thank you so much!

  • Christine Kane

    Wow! Thanks for all the great thoughts here – and peer to peer coaching too! (I got some food poisoning so i’ve been a bit out of it.)

    Anyway, Becky – this sounds like a great life lesson. And I do believe that when the ego (and all of its “perfect” demands) gets broken, there’s no way to avoid going through what you’re describing. It sounds like you are – as the master’s say – dying before you die. (meaning, an ego death of sorts.) This is good. But hard.

    JB – I still think you are describing “essential self.” She’s the part of you that got covered up by the demands and shoulds of life. I get that. But she’s not the OLD you. She just got covered up. She’s still there!

  • Sam


    I have known many perfect, academic, brilliant people who are miserable because they forgot to take care of themselves! Take this time and cherish it. There will always be time for that degree, but there is only one YOU!

  • juliana

    I think this is one of the reasons it’s so easy for our family to “hook” us — they have seen all the history, ALL the “old you”…so they have the hardest time letting go of it.

  • Becky Hunter

    Hey again everyone… am about to start a week off the internet, but wanted to share some disappointment if I may. Due to a bunch of rough emotional/past issues that I’m currently in therapy for, my grad school supervisor has suggested I take some time out of school to focus on my health. I’m so disappointed that I haven’t been able to keep up with being the perfect, academic, brilliant person that I wanted to be this year. But at the same time, I know it will do me the world of good to take a few months out and focus on getting well. It might even give me the time to finally do something creative, though this is not my first priority right now!

    If anyone has experience of this sort of situation I’d like to hear about it, as I feel quite foolish/ashamed at the moment, but I have a knowing deep inside that I’m doing the right thing for me by taking a break.

  • Sloane

    Holy Cow, the saying “I wish I knew then what I know now” comes in mind with this post. I spent 10 years NOT talking to my mom and one of the biggest issues when we would try and mend was The Old Me…she would complain about the old me and, boy o boy, would I react. We have been talking for almost a year now and she tried that comment early on in the healing process and I woudl shrug and smile while gently steering the conversation the other way. It works! Amazing…so all you folks, follow Christine’s advice she knows what she’s talking about!

  • JB

    Bear with me as I get to my point and connect full circle. 🙂

    I read this post a couple of days ago and clicked through the links until I found your post about “10 Ways to Set a Powerful Intent”. The first tip stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking all weekend (“#1: Decide WHO you want to BE”). You emphasized “be”; I emphasized “who” because I realized I was focusing too much on the “what/where” and the “do/have” aspects of my previous intentions.

    I sat with my journal, exploring the concept of WHO I want to be, and came up with a long list of qualities. I knew I needed to boil it down to simplicity in order to make an affirmation, so I mulled it over a bit longer. What one word sums up who I want to be?

    In today’s journaling, I was struck dumb by an epiphany so simple yet so profound and so danged obvious that I cannot believe it’s been in front of me the whole time and I didn’t see it. After all, I’ve been remarking and complaining about it for years.

    My Old Self was a dreamer. She could visualize with the best of them, and believed in the power of visualization to make great things happen. I used to just know “it” would work out, and I attracted experiences to myself so easily, before I really knew how to use this capability.

    But something happened to me along the way, and I lost the ability to dream, to fantasize, to put myself in another reality even for a moment in my mind.

    God, how I missed my Old Self. You know? I used to be this person who could easily visualize successful, happy, positive outcomes. I wish I were like that now. Big sigh.

    Well goldurn it, that right there is my current belief about visualization. NO WONDER I’ve been unable to make stuff work! Every time I conjure up images of success in my mind, or a healthy bank balance, it rubs up against that belief, and my mind shuts down. Wouldn’t have bothered my Old Self.

    So in this instance, I do want to, in some ways, return to my Old Self. Meaning, I want to be NOW (again) the person who easily visualizes success, happiness and positive outcomes. THAT is who I want to be. I realized that by changing that belief, all the other stuff like qualities and circumstances will fall into place behind it, when I am that person. Which I am. Because I have decided that I am. 🙂

    If you read this entire comment, thank you for allowing me to ramble, and thank you for opening my awareness yet again. You rock.

  • Gayle

    Thank You! I’m so glad you shared this with us. 🙂

  • Becky Hunter

    Thanks Christine. Your posts are really on form at the moment. Have you got some kind of tapwire into our heads?? I agree with Sam that the person in my head is the one most likely to pipe up about the old me. So far, my friends and family are pleased for me. I’m going to try thinking of it in terms of ‘just me’ and not old or new and see how that goes. Well done to everyone else on here for keeping going and pursuing their goals and dreams!

  • Kerrie

    God you’re good! Thanks 🙂

  • Kat

    So connected…yet again.
    In joy and gratitude,

  • elaine

    This is so true… I’ve been challenged about ‘Old Elaine’ before and how she was easier to control, whereas the ‘New Elaine’ says no. You are so right – there IS no old or new… There’s just Elaine: always becoming, always surprising, always in this present moment.

    Love this post – thank you!

  • Sydney

    Thanks Christine! This post made me smile. I’ve spent a lot of time during the past several years working on myself. During this time I often heard “the old you”, usually paired with “you’ve changed,” as I started setting boundaries. It was so painful at the time but now it makes me smile. I realize it was just a sign of the huge changes I was going through and no doubt will continue to go through. I like it here.

  • Rachelle

    Oh Christine, I couldn’t help but comment on the PICTURE you put on the post! So darn cute, it totally resonates with me!

  • Judy Demick

    There have been more than a few friends in my life who I have had to get away from because they sucked all of my energy. I was to be there for them always, listening to them, being the same, taking the abuse. My fault for letting those people in my life, but I don’t do it anymore. My good friends now are supportive of any changes I want to make and I give them the same support back. When I decided to spend 6 months in Yellowstone, my good friends were happy for me and encouraging. Those are the kind of people I want in my life.

  • Sam


    I had a difficult childhood as well, and when I was in therapy, and at a very low point in my life, the most steep climb of my journey, my husband was hiking the West Coast trail with another guy who was a psychiatrist, My husband mentioned one day that he couldn’t wait until I got through this and was “back to my old self” The psychiatrist enlightened him to the fact that I would never be that same person again, that I would grow and change and emerge a different person. I am so glad he said that! First because to this day, my husband not only likes who I have become, he SUPPORTS my decisions when it comes to taking care of my inner self. Second, because I think I needed to hear that too, as I was very confused as to just what the outcome would be! I realize how strong I am and how well I can take care of myself.

  • Sue

    Love the ‘old you’ statements and the meaning behind them! So so true.

    And like you’ve always taught us, most things people say like that are about them, not us. What a relief. 🙂

  • Meg

    Oh, my goodness! This has great personal significance for me right now. Thank you for writing it. Just… yes, thank you.

  • Pidge

    Wow, this one really struck a chord with me, Christine. So well articulated, and so helpful. To realize how much of that criticism is other people projecting their stuff (or sometimes, us doin that to ourselves) onto us. and how the key is not to get hooked. To be able to see it for what it is in the moment. And to not get triggered. And, if we can see what’s happening in that moment instead of getting hooked, then yes, compassion is possible. Words to live by. Thank you.

  • Tammy

    Great timing for me, I’ve made some big changes recently and been struggling with the “New me”/”Old me” concept. A renewed passion for creativity and a new found love of a fit/healthy life. Some good insight to help me understand my own confusion, the reactions of others and the importance of just being me. Wonderful article. Thank you for writing this 🙂

  • Nancy Slupski

    Love this post! Thanks for shifting my thinking on this idea of an ‘old me’, as I have been encountering these types of comments lately. I really like the ‘essential you’ concept, as it is so true. We are constantly evolving, and the only you that really matters is the ‘essential you’ right now in the present moment.

  • Cid

    This one made me a little bit teary-eyed… I am living these moments right now and they are painful and uncomfortable. However, it is SO worth it… I love Essential Me. =)

  • Julie Thompson

    Beautifully and eloquently written, Christine! Thank you so much for this — we all need to be reminded there is no ‘old’ and ‘new’, but merely growth and evolution, and finally transformation. What butterfly would want to go back to being a caterpillar just to please her peers?

  • Laura Mixon, PhD

    What words of wisdom you wrote! I read somewhere that anytime we transform, there is fallout, that’s what keeps most people from transforming — the fear of this reaction you’re describing. It is tough disappointing these people who want us the way we used to be, especially for us who used to be perpetual people pleasers! Ahh…but the rewards of being the essential me!

  • katherineME

    I think I will copy this and read it at my friends retirement party. It’s perfect. Thanks.

  • Susana

    I had one of those abusive, sad dysfunctional childhoods, as did my childhood best friend. For many years I embraced my ‘victimhood.’ Then I spent many years in various forms of therapy, meditation, &spiritual practices in order to get over & past all that. I continue to go in the direction of self-growth, transformation, and owning responsibility for my life as an adult.
    Meanwhile I lost touch with my childhood BF for many years. My life went in a very different direction and very different way from hers. She spent years trying to find me. After 25 years, we reconnected several years ago.
    Since we’ve reconnected, she has repeatedly me told that, “if [she] hadn’t known me as a child, she wouldn’t want to know me now.” She “misses the old me,” and lets me know this often. My childhood BF “doesn’t like the person I’ve become.”
    Nowadays, I see those kinds of statements as (unconscious, yet still unacceptable) attempts to manipulate & control me. And, nowadays, I am very likely to call a person out on this kind of behavior – something the “old me” would’ve never done. Who I am now knows that, not only is it ok to not be liked by everyone, but that trying to please everyone means never being pleased w/ oneself.
    I am who I am. And I am happy to be who I am now.

  • Becky Blanton

    What a brilliant post!!! Especially the “what they really mean” section. Makes me think. I wonder what would happen if I responded to the reality behind the hidden message. For instance:
    “I miss the old you. The old you would have been more helpful.” [meaning, “The old you had no boundaries and I could walk all over you like a doormat and guilt you into working for free.”]

    I thought about the person who might say that and my comeback would be, “Yeah, the old me would have let you use me, walk all over me like a doormat and guilt me into working for you for free. I can see why you’d miss that, but to be honest? I don’t.”

  • Alisha

    Essential You. I like that. I am usually the one missing the “old” me. But I suppose it’s time to just embrace me, the essential me. Thanks 🙂

  • Emily

    Thanks for this today, Christine.

  • Betsy Wuebker

    Brava! One reason there is so much resistance or negativity from others, sometimes very surprising when you’re expecting their support or congratulations when you’re contemplating or effecting progress, is that now they have to go on and change their opinion not only of you, but more importantly of themselves and where *they* fit by comparison.

    So, bluntly, if they’re used to thinking of you in less than optimum circumstances and block your improvement with disapproval or predictions, it means on some level they were thinking of themselves as “better.” Once we realize these statements have more to do with them than us, they’re eatin’ our dust, baby!

  • Vicky

    This is so true and it’s scary how easily this type of behaviour can rock a person’s self belief. My friend is about to make a really courageous lifestyle change and we chatted about this the other day – while some have been amazingly supportive, beaming with excitement for her, others have begun to shrink away or challenge her decision. The hardest part is knowing that the negativity isn’t deliberate or conscious, it’s coming from pain or fear – maybe the sense that they’re “losing” their friend or that their “crowd” is falling apart. I went through this strange experience a couple of years ago and at the time it was upsetting and unsettling but if you’re going through this, please don’t let it knock your confidence. True friends, even if they’ve struggled to behave like a friend at the time, will eventually realise that wherever you go or whatever you do, they’ll never really lose “you” and they’ll come back to you.

  • Sam

    Beautiful post, Christine!

    The only one that ever comments to me about the ‘old you’, is that little voice in my head. It usually happens in a challenging situation when it would be much easier to slip into that little cocoon I had and stay there feeling nothing, wrapped up in an un-emotional state until the challenge passed. I love the person I am today much better!