Trying To Change Others... Part II
I heard this quote above on a recent episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Eckhart Tolle was talking about acceptance and how we create our experience. Sometimes we don’t really want to think we have created or drawn our current circumstances to us, but if we accept them as if we had chosen them, then we can be free.
In the last edition of Sandy Chat, I was exploring the idea of how we often believe that if someone else or conditions would just be different, then we could be happy. I’ve been super convinced in my own life that if the person I loved would just wake the hell up – life could get back on the path I had planned out! I mean, can’t they see how much better things would be if they just changed or did things MY way??!???!!
I’ve invested major amounts of self-righteous energy into “schooling” the person whom I happen to feel needs to change so I can be happy. Especially when said person used to “get it” in my opinion, and seems to have ceased doing so. I can attest that this is a very draining way to live even though the fire and passion of self-righteous anger can trick us into thinking we are making something happen due to the invigorating jolt it provides. Ultimately, this approach wrecks a relationship as well as takes an energy toll on the person in the self-righteous stance.
You may have heard the line that some women marry for potential. They become hell-bent to change their partner and force them to live up to this potential ideal. Women are not the only ones who take this path BTW. When this happens, I’m sure it doesn’t start out as an attempt to kill the spirit of the person who is deemed in need of change, yet that is what it ultimately can do. What we are saying when we resist what IS or who a person IS – is that this thing or this person is not okay as they are. And furthermore, my happiness is impinged due to you being who you are. Ouch. This is not the intention when we try to “help”, it’s just the message that comes through in most cases.
The result can go a couple of ways when we try to get someone to be other than who they are… (1) Anger, blame, heels dug in, resistance. Or (2) Withdraw, conform, wilt, go along on the surface. But what I notice is that even taking route #2, often ends up at route #1. Resentment builds when we feel we cannot authentically be ourselves – either because someone is telling us who we are needs to be different, or if we ourselves don’t make a choice to be who we authentically are. Those who choose to conform to the wishes of someone else that they show up differently in the world or in their relationship, create a need to rebel, even lash out in painful ways at the one they see as their “oppressor”, when all the while, it is a self-created scenario.
Those who kowtow to someone else’s demands that they change have a roll in this dysfunction for sure. Yet the person in this role is often so busy blaming and feeling victimized that they don’t consider their own responsibility in the dance. Insecurity and low self-esteem can cause a person to conform to demands that they be different – even if those demands are not made by someone else, only assumed or created due to taking responsibility for how we THINK the other person feels about us.
Yes, I have been the persecutor in this dance in relationship before and still am sometimes today. Self-righteousness feels powerful for a moment, but it’s not Empowered. Power comes from fear, Empowerment comes from love.
I have also placed myself in the opposite role, of victim, in the dance sometimes. As the one who needs to change according to someone else. This role can’t last forever if you have even a teeny tiny morsel of self-esteem because resentment will ensue and you will either overtly or covertly try to take your power back in the relationship. Either through an out-right aggressive action or a via a passive-aggressive attack. One or the other will be on the horizon if you spend too much time in this role.
There IS another way and the great news is that it starts with YOU! No matter what role you are currently in. Plus you don’t need anyone else to change in any way for you to empower yourself. Allowing ourselves to be who we are, authentically – not as a rebellious act – but out of love, and dropping the blame of everyone and everything outside ourselves is the way through.
When we don’t accept OURSELVES as we are, love ourselves, see ourselves as enough – there is about a 100% chance that we will draw a relationship into our lives that reflects this back to us. The other person will agree with our own view of ourselves on some level. They will tell us that we need to be different in some way – the same story we tell ourselves internally.
If we can find ourselves, love & accept ourselves and BE ourselves, not who others expect us to be or cajole or nag us into being – there is about a 100% chance that we will draw to us a relationship and people who will also accept us as we are.
You see, when there is someone in your life who seems to always want you to change or be different than you are, there are two things happening…
1. This is exactly how the person leveling the judgement at you feels about THEMSELVES.
2. On some level – you agree with what they are saying, that you DO need to be different in some way.
Relationships have this beautiful way of always showing us something about ourselves. It’s not about what the other person is or isn’t doing that is the lesson. Your empowerment lies in looking within – so hard to remember when self-righteousness feels so dang GOOD!!! Rats!
Yeah, believe it or not, you can drop all the “schooling”, the nagging, the requests for someone else to change and choose to just love them. This puts the ball back in your court because it means you will have to get to know what truly is and isn’t okay for you. The responsibility for having boundaries for yourself and also for your own happiness will set you free to be your authentic self. It is possible to love someone and know not to be with them in a relationship. No one has to be “wrong”.
If you really think you can force another person to change, consider how hard it is to make a change in yourself. You might want to drop five pounds and decide you need to change your diet. This can be a huge difficult task!!! So if we have this much of a challenge making change in OURSELVES, how the hell do we think by demanding change in another person that they will be able to or capable of it!?!?!? Shaming yourself doesn't work to create change, so why would it work when we aim it at anyone else!???
Are humans are capable of change. YES! Because we WANT to change. Through either pain or love we choose to make a change. Rarely do we change because we are shamed into it. Tony Robbins says that to change we must get leverage on ourselves. The pain to stay the same must outweigh the pain of making the change. He also says that what causes people to feel motivated is progress.
Here is what I am learning most recently… When someone gives you the freedom to be who you are or better yet, the space to figure out who the hell you are – no matter what it means for them, THAT is real love. I have been on the giving end of this kind of love for sure, but to be the receiver... I’m not sure I’ve ever fully allowed myself to experience this before. So sometimes I probably don’t fully even know what to do with it or how to trust it. My low self-esteem stuff can actually cause it to bring up guilt to have someone love me in this real way – to want my happiness, even if it doesn’t include them. It's interesting because the guilt is about wondering if I am worthy of this kind of love. Then I try to remind myself that this is the love that is available to ALL of us when we are connected to the Divine. It's very beautiful and an amazing gift.
What is also amazing about this is that being given the freedom to be who I am, no matter what , seems to be causing us BOTH to grow in our own way. When you are a "fixer" or like to have control, letting go of the outcome can be phenomenally hard work, yet it's the only way through. Letting things unfold and releasing the outcome sounds super simple and it's one of the hardest things I've ever tried to learn to do. Coming to this point in this relationship has been far from easy AND I wouldn’t change anything that has happened, because it’s what it has taken to get here in my reclaiming myself and wake the hell up.
Will I still feel the pull of the heat of self-righteous passion and telling someone how they need to change in relationship with me? Of course! Will I be tempted to wilt and conform when I fear not being accepted or rejected? Yes. You can count on it. It’s not like you graduate and get a certificate that you’ll never ever slip back into old patterns. That’s not the point. It's can I spend LESS TIME THERE? Can I recover faster? That's the "goal".
The feeling I have experienced in a relationship that the other person WANTS me to be who I am and learning to stand on my own two emotional feet there, inspires me to want to give this to other people as well, because it feels incredible when I let it in.
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Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!