I’m sure you’ve heard this before from your therapist or from your mother; if your aim is to change someone, forget it. Not happening. Changing another person is harder than moving a dead elephant. That’s why people are stuck. People cannot change other people. Period. That person (or you) has to want to change on his or her own. So what do you do? What’s it going to take? Manipulation? Sickness? And, God forbid, death? I mean, you can certainly pray for that person to change without those 3 ways mentioned above. And yes, God can do it. But what can you do while you’re waiting for your miracle? Well, you can stay stuck a little while longer (or a lot longer), or you can change. Me? Yes you. You can change yourself. That seems counterproductive, you reply. I don’t need to change. Well, yes you do. Because doing what you’ve been doing is obviously not working. If they’re not going to change, then you have to, or move on to something or someone else. Okay, let’s just say you’re in it for the long-haul. You’re going to make it work no matter what. You’re not abandoning this person if the last thing you do. And it may be the last thing you do, my friend, so be prepared for that. So are you clear so far? Clear on the fact that you cannot change someone? Ok. Good. Here are some things you CAN do:
- Lead by example: But first, evaluate yourself. I’ll bet money that there are things you could change to make your life better. Maybe if you stopped nagging, the arguing would lessen or even cease. Maybe if you stopped buying chips and regular pop she wouldn’t eat the things that make her fat. Maybe if you started going to church, he would see his need to go. Maybe start going to the gym or try hiking if he’s a couch potato. Lead. You lead. Without saying a single word.
- Ask questions instead of offering suggestions: Maybe instead of saying, you shouldn’t eat that chocolate cake, you could ask, do you think cake is a good choice? Leave it up to them. Or instead of saying, stop leaving your clothes on the floor, you could say, do you think that hanging up your clothes would make your room look better? Maybe don’t say, stop leaving your nasty tissues all over the house. How about, here’s a garbage can. Have you ever seen one of these before? The dirty tissues go IN the garbage can. (You can demo it for effect) This can be time-consuming, so maybe sit down and make a list of thought-provoking questions for the specific issues. It’s worth it. (see how I keep saying, maybe?)
- Support is key: Let’s face it. Change is difficult for everyone and to have much-needed support is priceless. Let’s say my friend is having trouble losing weight. Since I’ve had those issues in the past, I can say, hey, people in high school used to call me a Sherman Tank. If you ever need to talk about it, I’m available. Then they know that I’m not forcing them to listen to me, but they have the choice to talk about it if they want to.
That’s it. That’s all I have. The point is that until someone sees his or her own need to be or to do something else, to take responsibility for his or her own life, there’s not much we can do except what I already said. Maybe try these and let me know? Or not.