Author: Catherine Pulsifer, © 1998
How many times have we attempted the impossible and tried to change other people. Often this ends up being an exercise of frustration as attempting to change others truly is a waste of time!
I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to change other people and I have failed. There was one person in particular with whom I am very close; this person was not happy with their life, they were bored and lonely. For years I tried to change them, to help them lead a more productive life. I tried to get them involved in groups where they had an interest. I tried to encourage them to call their friends and plan an outing together. I suggested getting involved with a charitable organization and volunteer their time. There is so much that a healthy person can contribute. But this person while bored did not want to commit to anything or anyone. They expected people to come knocking on their door. Of course, that did not happen and the person was very lonely and unhappy. But none of my ideas is something that they wanted to do. It concerned me as what a waste of life, so able to give so much, but not willing to do anything.
It Did Not Work
All my suggestions, well you guessed it none of them work. I just ended up being frustrated, until I realized that I couldn’t change them until they changed themselves. I could not force them to get involved they had to take that first step. There was only so much I could do.
As much as we want to, we all need to understand you truly cannot change other people. The person themselves have to want to change. They have to take the action. We can make all the suggestions we want but until they move forward it really won’t matter.
Think About This
Think of a time when you tried to change a personal habit. As we have absolute control over how we think, you would assume changing a habit is easy. As we all know, it is not. Changing a habit requires determination, perseverance and a strong willpower.
Stop and consider how difficult it is for us to try and change other people when we have no control over their thoughts or their actions.
To draw on the wisdom in an old saying, “You cannot change other people, you can only change yourself.” If you want others to change, then you must change.
Whether it is the behavior of a child, a boss, a co-worker, a friend, or a spouse you are the one who must change. You can change the way you express your feelings towards the behavior. You can change your reaction to them. You can change what you do and how you say it, but always remember you can not change the person unless they themselves want to change.
You can change your reaction to the behavior. In some cases, you may have to change by accepting the behavior.
Set The Example
Rather than trying to change others you can exhibit what you think should change in your own life. You set the example, how you live says more than any amount of words you could say to a person. You can set about a transformation in people by sharing your experiences and living the life that you feel is your purpose.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Going back to my experience with that person who is close to me. I have given up trying to talk with them. I live my life being very involved in many different areas. I would not know what boring is, as I don’t have the time to be bored.
And this person sees that in my life. I eagerly and enthusiastically share the work and activities I am involved in . Over the years the person has actively started to get more involved. A change has occurred in this person. And I should note my years of talking did no good. It was not until this person could see the difference it had made in my life that they decided to make changes on their own and get involved with groups that make a difference in others lives.
Remember this with your children. What they see you do, how you react, and how you speak are all things that impact and influence their lives. Rather than preaching to children, we should be demonstrating the actions we would like to see. It will have a much larger impact than we realize. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Furnish an example, stop preaching, stop shielding, don’t prevent self-reliance and initiative, allow your children to develop along their own lines.”
A good example of this comes from a friend of mine. She was so frustrated that her daughter kept her room so untidy. You walked into that child’s room and there was stuff all over. And it was not because she didn’t have shelving units, she had every organization unit you could think of. But the child never put anything back, her room was a mess. The mom was upset with her. And she was complaining to me her daughter’s room was a constant cyclone. But, when you looked around at the house and if you dared look in the mother’s room you could easily see where the child got this behavor from. The house was always a mess, stuff everywhere. And the parent’s bedroom was just as bad as the daughters. The mother could talk and get angry all she wanted, the example the child had was the problem.
We sometimes see situations in people’s lives that we can see disaster coming but until they see it, it doesn’t do any good to try and change them. We can always give words of encouragement, suggestions, but honestly don’t expect that others will change. They first have to want to change themselves and until that happens it doesn’t matter what you say.
The Point Is This
You have control over you and that is the only person you can change. When you realize this you will save yourself a lot of frustration.
Remember: you can change YOU and only YOU.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
“The key point to understand is that unless you change your approach, everything will stay the same.” Lisa Kardos
“Your success starts when you start to change yourself. Most important thing is your change must be in a positive way.”Sampath Bandara
“I made a few simple but important keystone habit changes, and that changed me and my life for the better and so can you.” Eileen Rose Giadone
“Always remember, to change what you have in life, you must begin by changing what you are.” G. Mark Phillips
“There is a great power in your thinking. Your thinking can change your life. Your thinking can change your world.” Birister Sharma
“No one else can change your life for you. Change must come from you.” Angelique Bochnak
“It should be no surprise that our successes and our failures have only one constant: us. If we want our situation to change, then we have to change our behavior.” Matthew Oleniuk
“You can’t change the world in a day but you can help everyone you come in contact with have a little bit of a brighter day if you say hi with a smile.” Raymona Brown
“Encourage individuals to compete against themselves to achieve more.” Meir Liraz
“None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.” Benjamin Franklin
“Draw inspiration from other people’s lives The inspiring example of the people you admire is a great place to start with.”Nathan Arthur
“The personal example you set will do more to convince someone than all the eloquent speeches in the world.” Catherine Pulsifer
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