Anything pushed down forcibly has to go through barriers created by the human mind.

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Changing self is the least of our concerns. Instead, what bothers us is making someone else change. Here’s the thing- No, you can not change people. That’s how it is.

It’s a desired two-way victory of sorts:

  • You can enforce a belief dear to you.
  • Your limited ego takes a pat on the back for doing something.

We are surrounded by people all the time, and we are always obliged or adamant about changing someone we think has gone haywire with life. Our relationship with a few depends totally on mutual understandings and common goals. Yet, our inherent self keeps pushing us to bring about a change that resonates with us.

“If only they could!” is the thought hovering around.

Let me break this sad part for you:

No, you can not change people. Try as you want, but it won’t happen. You can only engage people for where they are. The thought of changing/convincing/enforcing a change is deeply flawed. Agreed, it is a concern you hold for someone, but this ship ain’t sailing too far.  

There will be times you see a friend fucking up royally or a family member struggling and heartbroken, but there is only as much you could do. You hate seeing them the way they are and think, ” If only they can get their act together.”

I spent my life trying to bring about a change in people close to me. The thing is- they never wanted an alternate, and the exercise turned into a lost cause almost always. It never seems to work. 

The people who managed to improve did so out of their self-driven thoughts, inspiring them towards it. 

Can you be the catalyst of change? Yes. 

But can you change someone? No.

It can be your dear friend, family, wife, or ex-girlfriend. We live in hope since our entire existence revolves around hope and beliefs. We cling on to them, assuming there’s a change around the corner, only to get disappointed. At times, you feel close to achieving this and conclude only some part needs fixing.

You believe some advice or a book might help. You may try getting them counseled only in vain. Eventually, you end up calling or meeting and then begging them, perhaps shouting inside your head, ” why is this shit not working?”  

Long story short, you may be a part of the many reasons that someone else may consider changing, but not the sole reason someone decides for it. In most cases, you are the only one bearing the brunt of failure since you could not make a difference.

You may love someone dearly, and it may hurt, but losing them is a massive loss. So, you decide, the only possible way to salvage the situation would be to bring about some tweaking in their life. As easy as the solution sounds or looks good in your head, it doesn’t come off well in most cases. Your effort to change and get things on track doesn’t necessarily strike a chord with the one you focus entirely on.

You scream inside, ” if only there is some understanding.”

The thing is

You can positively intervene, not try pressing a change just because you deem it fit. People correct themselves when they are self-driven by an enduring force inside. Their change should resonate with their values, the values we all hold close and guard like gatekeepers.

Any change possible can only happen through a value system and deeply imbibed-culture of own rather than emulating someone else. So, change fails once you mirror someone else or their values. That’s not you is what you scream inside since you could not identify with it.

We need to stop with this whole scenario of changing someone into something else to veil the lack of our perceived self-worth. If you make your life goal or job about changing people, you are only creating space for frustration and disappointment. 

Making someone do something, even for their betterment, requires manipulating and coercion tactics. The strategy is bound to fail because you trespass a moral boundary created between two souls.

Here’s a better solution 

Tell, don’t sell

It’s an old saying used by salespeople. The trick is to tell about the product and resisting selling it. Once you sell, it comes across as shoving down your view or opinion against a guarded buyer.

Our lives work in the same fashion. 

Remember how your parents or teacher tried to sell you on the idea of studying something against your will. All it did was to distance yourself from it. 

Agreed, the concern and care of a family member or some friend make them cling to a belief of bringing about a change they so desperately seek, but it falls flat in most cases. The thing is, once you try intervening in a personal space and ideology of others through push, the whole exercise fails. 

Anything pushed down forcibly has to go through barriers created by the human mind. The existing set up doesn’t process the information for genuineness but as a threat.

Always tell. Tell about experiences, some inspirational story, or a real-life example, but don’t try selling it to someone you desire to change. Just telling is enough as it sends a positive signal, not undermining the other person’s closely guarded thought process and doctrines.

Show rather than sow

Crucial to understanding that you cant change someone’s belief patterns trying to sow some seeds of wisdom. Show or lead by example, and create change. Pretty sure you have felt about this in the past. You emulate the actions of others. If someone comes up to you budging to change a few habits and living life differently, you won’t pay heed. 

Ever wondered why all the self-help books rest on experiences, and we love reading the story of how someone faced adversity and yet came on top of it. 

We like a good story, a good leader, and not a lecture on how to live a better life. We follow examples and patterns only when we feel it’s worth it, not when they get sold to us.

I’ll come back again to the family angle here. The kids imitate their parents. You don’t tell them to read, but they do if you do. Try telling them that reading is good, but they won’t understand. You don’t order them to pray, but they follow if you do. Put your entire might into changing them for some good, and they never follow. 

Always show the possibility. It’s like team sports where the leader delivers and expects reciprocation by the team. A leader can keep preaching, but the message trickles down when the team finds someone leading by example.

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