Frequently in my work as a psychologist and personal coach, individuals have indicated that they want to change something about another person in their lives. They are bothered by what a significant other has said or done, or what a co-worker forgot to do. Too often, they mistakenly think that they can change others. One woman complained that her husband was over-weight; and she desperately wanted to make him stop eating so much. I asked her, “Now, what are the chances that you can get him to realize this and make him change?” She was quiet for about 3 minutes, and then said, “Well, he won’t change unless HE wants to. I simply can’t make him change.”
She had that look of amazement on her face, as one does when you have just realized the difficult truth about something important. It is clearly true that you cannot make another person change.
You can only control yourself. All the relationships you have, ever have had, and ever will have share one thing in common: YOU. Only you can decide whether or not to tolerate your significant other who drinks too much. You can decide how upset to get over your neighbors’ negative comments. You can decide how much time to spend with your co-worker who is toxic. You alone can make changes and you alone have a choice as to whether to chart a happy life or a miserable life. This is both the bad news and the good news. You have no one else to blame for your unhappiness, except yourself. The good news is that this information is empowering.
Once you stop trying to change others and put effort into changing yourself, your life can change suddenly. The gift of change is in your hands.