Have you ever felt like someone you knew would prefer you to act differently than you currently do? It’s human nature that, with or without meaning to, we all try to change those around us. Everyone does it! At work, managers try to change their workers; at home, parents try to change their children; and in social circles, people try to change friends and acquaintances. Everyone is trying to change someone. We are so busy changing people around us that we have lost our own focus. Many of us have spent years trying to change someone, to no end. Some have tried everything possible to change people’s thinking and behavior so that they become more like us, yet they have failed. It is just like pushing a wall and expecting it to move.
Everyone is unique!
We all have unique DNA inside us, making us different. Imagine if there was no variety and everyone was exactly the same. Wouldn’t this be boring? Variety is the spice of life. It makes us think and act in different ways. It is because of this individuality that we have so many inventions and discoveries. Variety has helped us appreciate our own uniqueness, and it has helped us grow mentally, emotionally, and socially.
How do we accept people?
Accept people as they are instead of pushing them to become what they are not. When you accept people you are saying, “I accept you as a person” and not, “I accept what you do.” There is a difference when you accept a person versus an action. Take the family scenario for example: we have unconditional love towards one another even though we are different. It’s possible to accept someone for his or her thinking and uniqueness. If everyone is right according to his own self, why not accept him as a unique individual? In my book, Dance to the 7 Tunes of Success, you will find “perception” mentioned as one of the tools to transform your life. When you change your perception, you change the quality of the results in your life.
How do we change people?
Only acceptance can change people. When you accept people you make them feel secure. People are open to those
who make them feel comfortable. Even in prison this technique is used with hardened criminals. They are made to feel comfortable and when they have developed rapport with an investigator, crucial information is extracted. Parents use the same technique with their children. They are willing to accept their child’s behavior and as a result the child is more willing to share with his parents. This helps parents develop connections with their children and allows them to explain the pros and cons of their children’s actions.
So why don’t we take our own examples? We tend to share our secrets with the ones who do not judge us and are ready to accept us as we are. Judgment creates resistance and blocks sincerity.
So finally what can we do?
People will always act the way they want to. You can’t push people to act differently, but rather, you can be a living example of the change you seek. This happens when you focus inward and change yourself first. When you work on yourself the equation changes and you are no longer conflicted. In negotiations, tables turn when one side stops pushing and steps back instead, likely resulting in a win-win situation. At home, instead of changing behaviors of others and getting irritated, one can change his or her own behavior and remain happy. At work, stop attempting to change your colleague who always sends erroneous reports and instead correct the report and send it back to him. Do the opposite of what he expects and he will surely be careful in sending the report next time. Instead of asking your partner every day to clean the bathroom every time he takes shower, do it yourself happily and let him know that you have cleaned the bathroom. Do it for a few days and see the results before you decide that nothing will change. We are stuck in patterns and hence we are not able to renew our relationships. It is essential to take a step back and break patterns of the past.
Become bigger than the problem!
Sometimes, even when you make an effort, nothing happens. In that case, know that you have outgrown yourself. You chose not to give way to small irritations of life. You may discover that after a certain level of personal growth, the irritations cease to exist. What you resist will always persist. Thus, you should accept people, situations, and events as they are and aim to outgrow them by becoming bigger than the problems. The problems may not go away but you can grow by changing yourself.