I’m not sure where I heard that quote, but it has always stuck with me. In relationships we have a tendency to try to change people into what or who we think they should be or what we want them to be. I’m sure that we’ve all learned by now that we cannot change people. What we do have the power to do is change ourselves.
Think about how you feel when someone tells you what you need to or should be doing. Even when they say it nicely, my first reaction is often to rebel and do the exact opposite of what they are telling me to do. Constructive feedback is one thing, but lecturing someone on how they need to change is totally differently and rarely well received.
As a result I’ve found that the best way to see change is to be the change that you want to see.
What can you do differently to reduce or eliminate the undesirable behavior that your love one exhibits without being manipulative?
Here are a few practical examples…
Let’s say that your loved one has a smoking habit that you do not care for. Physically removing yourself when they smoke will let them know how you feel about it without you telling them that they need to quit. Telling them that they should stop does not encourage them to do so, but perhaps the absence of your presence may help them to give the idea some thought.
I’ve noticed that people only do what you allow them to. The cigarette smokers in my life know that I do not like smoke, but since I don’t set any clear boundaries, I am still subject to this undesired behavior. But I’ve noticed that there are certain people that they do not smoke around. This means that the people that they do not smoke around have set some clear boundaries. Know what you want and be firm in that.
Perhaps your issue is that you and your loved one argue all of the time. You can be the change that you want to see by making an effort to be more positive. If you find yourself being negative or reacting to their negativity, take a step back. Either counter your negativity with positivity, or simply do not respond to their negativity.
I watched the film “Fireproof” the other day and in the movie, the husband was reading the book, “The Love Dare.” The love dare is a forty day process based on biblical principles where individuals are given a different challenge each day. One day the husband was given the challenge of not being negative. Even if his wife was negative he had to be silent and not reciprocate her actions. Give that a try. A person can only fuss, rant and rave all by themselves for so long before they begin to feel foolish.
These are but a few examples, but I encourage you to examine the stressful situations in your relationships and think about how changing yourself can benefit the union.
**This Relationship Rescue Series is not just limited to romantic relationships; these are principles that can apply to any relationship whether it be family, friends, or co-workers. Relationships are what keep us alive so it is important to nurture them and put in the time and effort that it takes to make them work.