Tag Archive | change

The tough part of Change!

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.


Communicating Displeasure – when is it worth it

A cactus does not become a lily because I felt bad that it pricked me. A cactus is in this world for a purpose and it shall live its purpose. Likewise, a lily. It is for me to know the difference between the two and what to expect and how to use them accordingly. It doesn’t matter if it is a young one or an old one. Each has its nature and it will stay true to its nature regardless of how I feel about it.

Likewise, if someone hurts us, we might feel like reacting to them and communicating our displeasure. But, before we do so, it is good to think through – if we really want to.

Firstly, what is the purpose – is it for our satisfaction? Just to get it off our chest? If that is the case, then it may be better to talk to ourselves about it OR we could imagine that we have already communicated it to the other and stop at that. We don’t actually need to bother telling anyone in reality as this is a purpose only for the self.

 If not, is it because we share a great relationship and this was a one off case where we want to clarify? If yes, then we may go ahead – but sticking to the observed behaviours only without attaching any labels or interpretations is important. Keeping in mind that it is our perception helps us in giving them the benefit of doubt.

 In certain scenarios, we need not have to address the issue with the person at all if we can make a change in the environment. And that would create the desired difference. It is smart and easy to work on the environment wherever we can. For example, instead of telling children not to drink ice cold water, we can stop filling the water bottles in the fridge. If we know our kid spills food, before we advice him, it is good to check if we need to change the plate or if we should make a change in the immediate environment. As someone rightly said “Don’t fix people, fix the process”.

Then, think of the other person – have you had situations where you found them very reasonable and you think they might understand what you are saying? Or have you always experienced only the side of them which you did not like as much or felt they never understood you? If that is the case, then communicating displeasure will only make matters further worse than improve in any way. If they were mature enough, they might not have said or done half the things they did. If they have demonstrated this unhealthy pattern for a long time, we telling them might not really make much of a difference apart from giving them another opportunity to talk things that might hurt us further.

Consider if the person is really important. Do you really love them? And do you want them playing an active role in your life? If not, let go. The problem sometimes is we spend 80% of our time and energy trying to fix the 20% of the problem people in our lives. They don’t change and we don’t stop trying. This only leads to a lot more of friction, a lot less productivity and unnecessary frustration.

In such cases nothing better than ignoring. The more we pay attention to them, the more we are giving them the control to our life and happiness. The minute we put them on ignore mode, the quality of our life instantly improves, as if by magic! That’s the power of ignoring the unwanted rubbish in life.

 Sometimes, we may hear something unhealthy from people whom we love a lot too. In those times, it is not the person, but the words we can choose to ignore for that moment and move on. If you always let others tell you who you are, you might land up losing your sense of self as soon as they have a bad day. We may not be able to control what someone else does or says. But we certainly have the power to choose what we pay attention to and what we don’t.

Lastly and most importantly, check if this is a battle worth fighting currently. It is important to pick our battles wisely. Is this most important right now and are we in a state to handle whatever happens as a result? Sometimes, we can be cognizant of our life situation and be kind to our own selves and drop the battle right there even if someone else hasn’t been as thoughtful. For example, someone has been very unkind and harsh in a remark although they know that you have recently experienced a huge personal loss. In this case, reacting to their comment will only make us feel more agitated than peaceful. They have not been kind to us doesn’t mean we increase our troubles by focusing on them. Best if ignored again.

As the serenity prayer goes – Grant me the power to change things that I can, accept things that I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.

If we were to modify it – Grant me the power to forgive people who matter, ignore people who don’t and the maturity to know the difference & be accordingly.