How to Change Others
So you want to learn how to change other people, but why? If they change to how you want them to be, would that make you feel better? If they said I’m sorry, would it make your problems go away? So many go to great lengths to change others, to make them love you, respect you, or simply to stop bothering you. I have some bad news for you – you can’t change them, that is their job.
Many people enter treatment trying to find methods on how to change others so they will feel better. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. If you are waiting for them to make the change, you will be waiting your whole lifetime.
We talked a lot in the group this week about how a partner has potential so people will stay in the hope of the relationship improving. Also, how people want to have the first few months of the relationship return. Unfortunately, as my grandmother told me, “In the beginning is the honeymoon period where they are a prince or princess and could do no wrong, it is like a fantasy come true. Then the warts start to show. Now, Scotty, if you still love them despite the warts, then it is a good match.”
In the honeymoon phase, we put on our best behaviors. Shoot, we won’t even fart in front of them. Then we let our guard down and the real person begins to emerge. “Honey. Pull my finger.”
Our relationships are a reflection of our relationship with ourselves. In the book, “Conscious Loving,” the authors Gay and Kathleen Hendrix advocate using relationships as a healing journey.
Relationships bring us incredible growth opportunities. If we are focused on changing the person to please us, we don’t really love them for who they are. If this is the case then we are using them. Relationships tend to do one major thing – trigger us. Let’s look at the dynamic – two people who come from different family systems are placed together. Both have their own subconscious rules from their family embedded deep inside of them. If the other person does something wrong, or against their family system, we get triggered. What is wrong with them? Don’t you know you are supposed to put the toilet seat down?
For this reason, it is important to learn how to communicate correctly so you can gently hash this out. Communication skills are important because if you are not communicating, it isn’t a relationship. Look at the word – relation (two people relating), ship (something that floats forward) – catch my drift. And do you know what the number one relationship skill is? Listening.
Listening to our partner ensures a good relationship. If we don’t listen to what they are saying, then how are we on the same page? What is important to do is listen to them, then repeat back what you heard them say.
“So, you are saying that I never listen to you and that I always try to take control of the situation, is that right?” In the past you may have been defensive and gone on the attack in order to win, but who wins when we play the right wrong game?
This was the family that I grew up in. We always had to be right. In doing this, we would try to get other family members to be on our side and some other argument would ensue. Great fun at times, but after a while, it was exhausting and upsetting.
The first day in graduate school the teachers told us, “There is no right or wrong but only learning.” It took me four years to wrap my head around that one. In relationships, if you make yourself right, you make the other person wrong, and will they want to sleep with you after that takes place?
Is it really important to be right? They can be right for them and you for you, let’s agree on that for the moment, and then what? These relationships are called transactional and instead of focusing on who is right, where is the loving?
In order to change them, you need to model the behavior. If you surround yourself with love and talk to them with that feeling, guess what happens? They respond with love too. This is called the law of attraction. If you want peace, be more peaceful. If you want more hope, be hopeful. If you are trying to get your needs met through another person, that is called being codependent and codependent relationships die hard and fast. In learning to take care of your own needs and supporting your partner in caring for theirs, then the relationship gets stronger.
Allow people the dignity of their process, we say. Who are you to change them? That is their job and yours is taking care of your own self. One thing about relationships, each day people can get triggered by the actions of others. Perhaps they are in a bad mood, then how do you respond? Do you try to fix them so you will feel better? Do you blame yourself? Do you run and hide? Place close attention to your reactions. Then see how you can work on improving how you are. There are a lot of tools you can learn in counseling to work through the problems you have. The traumatic times in your past can be processed through instead of being dragged with you, like a ball and chain, for the rest of your life. You really can heal if given the proper tools and focus.
“Self Helping,” is a good book to read on this subject. Individual or couples counseling can help, but doing nothing about it will keep you stuck where you are right now.
Compassionate Care is Always Available
There are many more tools and strategies you can use in your pursuit of happiness. Here is where we come in. Contact us at Basic Steps Mental Health and let us support and educate you on this journey back to your loving heart center. Imagine living a heart-centered life, regardless of what is happening externally. We’d love to be of help.
For 25 years, Dr. Scott Alpert, the clinical director of Basic Steps Mental Health, has treated over 7,000 people with mental health and addiction problems, using a Psychological approach that mixes and matches ten of the top approaches used in the industry. We are here virtually and in-person to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic and many other difficulties you may be experiencing.
May you have good mental health.