It seems like this should be a short blog: an easy question with a short and obvious answer.
Of course, we can change! We change our appearance, we change our minds, but do we really change who we are at our core?
So, if the answer to that question is a simple “yes”, are we done?
Not so fast …
There’s an entirely different angle to our personal changes that most people never even think about.
Sometimes, we change for the better. Sometimes, we change for the worse. In either case, there is another side of this change: how does our change affect others?
How will others react to our change? Will they accept our change, or will they completely reject it?
You see, when we choose to change, that change necessitates a change in others, quite literally.
Your change is not just about you
For example, when people who have an addiction make the decision to change, one of the most important things that they must do is change their situation. They need to change the company that they keep – those people around them who either use them, abuse them, enable them or contribute to their addiction. After they have cleaned up their act, the people around them must accept that they have changed in order to view and treat this person differently and not as an addict anymore.
Other times, our changes may not be accepted by others, either because they don’t want us to change or because they don’t want to accept our change. It could also be that our change has come too late.
The people who don’t want us to change may fear that our change will lead to them having to change, or they may fear that it will initiate a change in your relationship to them – again, literally. They may think that we will see them differently, or that we will blame them for our past. They might fear that they will lose their “partner in crime”.
Those who won’t accept our changes may fear that our change isn’t real or isn’t permanent. They may believe that our change is due to the influence of outside sources and that those sources won’t last. They may have seen us attempt to change before and not succeed.
As for those who feel that our change has come too late, the damage may have already been done. Different people have different limits. It may be distressing, especially if we feel that the changes we have made are for the good of the relationship.
Real change comes from within
Our changes might not always alter our current situation for the better. That is, we may not reap the rewards of change in this relationship, but it can most certainly affect the next.
Not all change is for the better. Not all change is initiated for the right reasons. Sadly, most people welcome others changing simply to please them.
It’s important to keep in mind that “we change, not for others, but for ourselves”.
Real changes, true changes, long-term changes, significant and sustainable changes, all come from within.
The only person you can truly change is yourself
Others can’t change us or make changes for us. Even when we think that change is for the better or is in the other person’s best interest, we should not try to change them. Changing others is an exercise in futility, a total and utter waste of time and effort.
There is a saying that goes “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. This is a play on words, a poor attempt at wit. Individuals change, but people do not. That is, even though we are vastly different, we are human, and basic human behavior is inherent.
The point is that even though we may change, our circumstances might not. Or, the people around us may not. Or, the people around us may not accept our change. In other words, there is more to change than just our own agenda.
Regardless of if we change or how we change, one thing is for certain: change is inevitable. Even if we do nothing to cause it, even if we don’t want it, or are doing what we can to resist it, change does, and will, happen.
Changes aren’t always—or only—our own. Others are also changing all around us. We too may either want the change or not; accept the change or reject it.
This week’s challenge for you is to review and evaluate some of your own relationships, both past and present. What changes occurred, both on your part and on the other parties? How did you, or they, react and respond to the changes? Could you have handled the changes any better? And let me know about all of what you find.
Good Together: your guide to healthy, happy relationships
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