Are you a prisoner of change? If so, carefully read the words of The Grasshopper from just a couple of years ago.
“People Are Who They Are, Not Who We Want Them to Be.”
How much time have you wasted wanting someone to be who they aren’t?
In the spirit of full disclosure, one expression that I bristle to almost every time is: “That’s just the way I am.” That’s just not accurate. That’s just the way you have been conditioned.
So the way people are is a result of their conditioning and wanting them to be different will take a whole lot of time and effort. It’s worth that investment if the people you’d like to recondition are your growing children, but once they become, as my mother used to say, “big and ugly,” the odds for success are diminished greatly.
In the case of changing adults, I’m reminded of an old joke. “You can lead a horse to water but keep in mind what a wet horse smells like.”
If you want to smell like barn animals all the time, keep trying to change people, especially the ones who don’t want to change.
How many heartfelt conversations have you had with the family drunk? Do you think the next one is going to work any better?
“I just can’t accept their behavior.” That’s fine, but you’ll have to accept this: You will not change them. The desire to change will have to come from them.
No one is going to change you but you. Someone or something may open your eyes to a new way but it’s you that has to do the work. I believe that every therapy session would work better if they all began like this: “After we do all our work together, it’s still your problem to solve.”
Prison doesn’t change a criminal; otherwise we wouldn’t have such a high recidivism rate. The changed prisoner is one who discovered that his way wasn’t working and decided to change his ways.
The underlying, crumbling foundation of our penchant to change others is this: “If they were more like me, they would be better off.” No, they’d just be more like you. To be more of who they can be will have to be something they decide on their own.
If you’re looking for a hobby that takes up all your free time and doesn’t deliver any rewards, try changing people. If, on the other hand, you’d like to have a lot more success, work on changing yourself.
All the best,
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