The majority of our suffering comes from thinking something or someone should be different. When it comes to people, we believe that if only they changed, things would be so much easier for us, and for them. Getting people to change is so difficult that the struggle in getting there, paradoxically, ends up ruining the relationship altogether. The result: everyone suffers. Suffering comes from a desire to fix, control, or change reality. So how do we get people to change without ruining relationships and driving ourselves mad?
It hurts seeing those we care about doing things that we know are bad for them. And while it may be completely true that they would benefit from making changes in their lives, what we don’t see is the energy and negativity that comes pouring out of us when we fixate on that inner desire of ours to get them to change to be more “easy for us to be around”.
What we don’t see is the excessive negative energy we put there, and the amount of energy that gets sucked out of us- so much that we have very little left to apply in our own lives, our own problems, and our own issues.
For the longest time, I was guilty of this. To the point of being aggressive, emotional, and angry and hypervigilant, I would get overly involved in other people’s lives. I was completely blind to the extent it took away my inner peace. I was losing sleep, I was getting anxious, and started building up resentment toward the people I claimed to “love”.
This is a form of codependency. When we get involved in places that we have no power, neglecting our own personal health, well-being, growth, and independence. We make ourselves sick with bitterness and judgement about how someone behaved, thought, or spoke in a way that we didn’t agree with. Sadly, this only leads to a breakdown, and sometimes end to the relationship.
We meddle in other’s lives because we care, we worry, and we think we know what’s best for them. And perhaps that’s all justified and coming from good intention and a loving place. Then again, there are times when our own lives are so messed up that it just feels easier to focus on other’s problems instead of our own. But the truth is, wherever it comes from, and whatever reasons we have, we have no real or meaningful power over others behaviors, choices, thoughts, or beliefs. So how do you change them?
But you can influence them.
Trying to maintain our own inner calm is hard enough, but to try and make magic in someone else’s life by changing them into someone you think they should be only leads to trouble. The only meaningful power you have is to find that peace within yourself, juggle your own inner calamities, and love. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Love each other. Be kind to everyone. Because believe it or not, people are always watching. It may not feel like it but they are. Even when they are repeating over, and over, and over again, the behaviors that keep getting them into the same predicament, they are watching. They’re watching to see if it’s possible to be a kind, patient, loving human being. They are watching to see how to unconditionally love others and accept others and support each other on their journey in life. If you want to make people change, start there.