Upset woman in cafe

You Can’t Change People! See How to Turn From Helpless to Healthy

Wanting to change someone sounds harsh! It assumes that you aren’t okay with the way they are. Or maybe it’s more subtle. And you don’t enjoy the energy a person carries. Either way, no matter what you say or do, you can’t change people.

Sadly, we can waste precious time wishing people were different. We may struggle through social gatherings, counting down the minutes. Or, we want to avoid them altogether.

In this story, I’ve gathered some quick bites that will hopefully shift your energy.

Here’s what I found:

1. Instead of trying to change people, realize they won’t heal until they’re ready.

Have you heard the phrase, ‘Hurt people hurt people?’

A person walking around with negative energy is likely carrying wounds from their past.

(You know what I’m talking about… there’s always that one person (or more!) in your circle who behaves poorly and causes a lot of pain and frustration.)

The thing is, they may be oblivious.

Their ‘unhealthiness’ may not be extreme, either. Maybe they play the victim card to try to get their way. Or perhaps they’re exceedingly self-focused and challenging to be around.

Either way, they’ll never change until they’re ready to do the work. 

Louise Finlayson, Ph.D., says:

“It is the same with mental or emotional wounds. A person has to heal themselves, and they have to choose to heal. And this is not easy.

Ultimately it is up to the other person to decide if they believe there is a problem and if they want to do anything about it. If they want to change, we can support their decision, but they must do the actual work.”

So even if you’re heart is centered in the right place, and you genuinely wish a massive dose of well-being for your friend, you can’t change people. Period.

people taking responsibility

2. Next, see that they must take responsibility for themselves.

Mark Manson says:

“People who have survived trauma, who have been abandoned or shamed or felt lost, they’ve endured that pain by latching onto worldviews that promise them hope. But until they learn to generate that hope for themselves, to choose their values, and to take responsibility for their own experiences, nothing will truly heal. ”

Recently, I remember talking with a friend I deeply admire about this issue. We discussed it more in the context of what it means to become an adult.

Contrary to popular belief, getting married, having a baby, etc., aren’t milestone experiences that make you an accountable adult.

Instead, the moment you become an adult is when you take full responsibility for your life. In doing so, you stop blaming your parents, your siblings, old difficult experiences, etc., and step into a position of ownership for yourself in all aspects.

It’s a brave, bold step to take forward. But it’s also a game-changer.

accepting others

3. Now, discover freedom in letting go and letting be.

Let it be. (I know you’re hearing the lyrics in your head right about now! Let’s look at some here.)

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to meSpeaking words of wisdom, let it beAnd in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of meSpeaking words of wisdom, let it be”

Letting things be is wise, strong, and graceful.

To let it be, you must have faith that a higher power is alongside you. And thankfully, this higher power is in charge.

You know that life itself is the great teacher. And people will learn everything they need to learn at the right time and in the right way.

Picture your hands letting go of a rope you’ve been gripping, believing that you have any control whatsoever. And recognize the feeling of resistance. Observe how you white-knuckle your way through your interactions with them.

And suddenly, allow a deep inner knowing to fall upon you. You realize you’ve wanted to change a person and have mistakenly believed you could.

You see that it’s time to accept this person as they are and to drop it! This simple act makes you feel free. And don’t you want to feel free?

Lauren Suval of psychcentral says:

“After venting my angst to others, I heard a perspective that just clicked. I needed to let him be. Letting someone be involved in accepting who the person is allowing him or her to do things that may be different from your actions. Do I like his behavior? Not exactly, but I think it’s a freeing thought process to practice.”

In a nutshell, try accepting people where they are. And understand that you can’t change them a single bit!

Acceptance is hard. It takes work.

In some ways, I think you need to see a person’s innocence. Feel compassion for them. Then you may be able to say, “I see you. And I’m choosing to let go of the story I’ve written about you in my mind. Instead, I will accept you and wish the best for you.”

Even if that means stepping back from a person, you’ve taken the high road and dropped the need to change them in any way. This can open up more space in your mind and heart for things that may bring joy into your life.

One of my favorite teachers, Byron Katie, says, “Why do I love you? Because I’m happier that way.”

In conclusion, fully accept that you can’t change people. Instead, give grace and find peace. This is the blessing of free will. You really do get to choose.

 

Are you in the mood to read more?

Check out this story on seven affirmations to use when interacting with others.

Or, take a deeper dive and a closer look at resentment.

Lift your spirits by reviewing Verse One of the Tao Te Ching.

**This story reflects my thoughts and cites professionals but is in no way a medically backed piece. Contact the appropriate professionals if you or someone you know needs help.

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