What is the toughest part of change usually? That change is out of our comfort zone, that it is new, that it needs time, that it needs acceptance! Perhaps all these and many more – but the most important part is that sometimes we spend a lot of time trying to change others more than focusing on ourselves. That makes it really tough as we cannot change anyone. The only person whom we can change is ourself. However, we can always influence a change in others.
You wanting the other person to change is not a bad thing. But change can truly happen only when there is a deep desire from within the person. When we enforce a change on people whom we love, even with the best interest in mind, it can backfire and move people away from us.
Sometimes we have certain conditions on the change of the other person. Say, if we place a condition for our happiness based on whether someone else changes or not, that’s the start of trouble; mainly for 2 reasons – one, it is not in our control. Two – it may happen or it may not happen. So, if we spend a lot of our energies trying to change someone else, we should be well aware of the above conditions and be prepared accordingly. Just because someone is our husband, wife, son, daughter, friend, parent etc. doesn’t mean that they have to listen to us and change – even if it is in their best interest.
Can change come with choices? Can change come with flexibility? Can change come with respecting what the other person wants for themselves too? Yes – then we are talking about a win-win. A change not because you want it, but because it will enable the other person.
One fundamental question to ask ourselves before we try changing others is – “what is it that I need to have within me to accept this person the way he/she is?” “What should I have in me, so I can accept their behavior?” And when you strengthen that aspect in yourself to accept people the way they are, and love people for who they are, your ability to influence others will be greater – because you are in harmony with yourself and others. No amount of force can get you what a little bit of love can. 🙂
We can’t force a bud to bloom. I know that regular walks can do a lot of good to my parents. Yet, I don’t need to keep telling them that in every conversation – then I am almost bugging them and refusing to see anything else apart from that one thing. I am so fixated on this one aspect that if I hear a no for this, I am pretty much zoned out to listen to anything else that they might have to say. So, think about it – if that one change is making you lose focus on everything else that the person is or does and if we are insisting on looking at just that one aspect of change – it can be frustrating – not just for us but for the other too. The more we persist, the more they resist. If you want someone to keep you posted on all that they do and wherever they go all the time, it may not happen. But if you can let go of wanting others to change and just be an example of what you wish to see in them, they will eventually be influenced by you.
At times, relationships are strained not because they don’t love each other but because one of them is constantly focusing on that one thing that they don’t like in the other and expects them to change. It prevents them from seeing all the other good qualities they have. Life seems like a constant struggle trying to tell someone to change, change, and change! But what we don’t realize is – people automatically change, if we stop telling them and love them anyway. I can always tell someone, “It would be wonderful if you woke up a little early.” But if they don’t wake up early, that doesn’t mean I have to be grumpy and spoil their and my entire morning – that causes the strain.
There’s this popular old English movie called Pretty Woman, where Richard Gere with a gentle smile tells Julia Roberts,” When you’re not fidgeting, you look very beautiful and very tall”. I loved the way he said it – a positive influence and a gentle way of stating something in a way that the other person gets immediately. He did not ask her to stop fidgeting or that she doesn’t look good when she fidgets. He only said that she looks good when she isn’t fidgeting. What a way to influence I thought! People may not readily change their views or habits for our sake or even for their own sake. But that shouldn’t determine how we are towards them. We can always communicate what’s important about doing something a particular way or being in a particular way. But that point of difference needn’t be the only thing to focus maximum energy on most of the times. Can we mutually co-exist with different points of view? And again, all this is for self. If you have someone in your life who expects you to change, and your heart is not in it, rather than expecting them to change their views first, see what is it that you can develop in you that will help you deal with them in a respectful and loving way.