Wow, when it’s been one of those days… or weeks.. or months… it’s so easy to believe that there is no end to the steady trickle of frustration.
It feels like it’s seriously one thing after another. Will it always be this way? Your inner voice replies with an answer that you don’t really want to hear but you fully expected.
Yes, it will.
It’s always been this way.
Things will never change.
People never change.
It isn’t worth it.
Each thought feels so true. All the evidence points to that truth.
Human nature means that we’ve probably tried a combination of positive thinking, being hopeful, giving up and being angry.
We turn to books and other people’s advice to figure out what’s gone wrong. We’ve had long talks that feel very one-sided. After many approaches or attempts, things slip quickly back into their predictable, unsatisfying and depressing patterns.
No change. Again.
Time to ease your way out of this, my friend. I am going to tell you the secret of how to get another person to do anything you want, quickly and easily.
There’s a plot twist here…the way you get another person to do anything you want is by changing what you want.
You can want them to do what they want rather than what you want. I know, doing what they want is what is causing the problems to begin with. I get that, completely. Although this sounds like it leads to the complete opposite result you’re trying to achieve, it’s important to follow this logic all the way through in order for it to make sense and see the benefit.
Think about the change you want the person to make. This specific shift is what you believe will create the best outcome. It very well could be true, but it’s incomplete. If you believe that you have the sole solution, then you are neglecting to acknowledge the perspective and opinion of the other person. Even if their input seems counter to making any progress in the relationship, it’s necessary to play with the full deck of cards. Every single card makes the whole deck. Think about this- if you are not accepting their behavior, then who are you really in a relationship with?
Is it possible that you are in a relationship with who you wish the person would be?
When you are in a relationship with who you wish the person would be, you will believe that things would be better if they would just change, listen, or try harder. You will experience a lot of frustration and irritation as a result. You’ll believe that the reason you feel this way is because people are stupid or that they suck. You will believe that they don’t care. How do you feel when you believe they don’t care? You might build up an emotional wall in response.
So back to your choices: you can choose to hold onto beliefs that creates suffering or you can change your belief.
The quickest exit ramp you can take to get out of constant disappointment and frustration is to believe that people should do what they want to do. This is unconditional acceptance. Trying to change someone or even just wishing they would change only creates more friction for you and them.
You can decide people should be able to do what they want, even if it’s “bad”.
I know it seems counterintuitive so I want to perfectly clear. The first thing is that letting them do what they want doesn’t mean that you need to stick around for any abuse. It just means that you shouldn’t try to control them because it’s a disempowering move for you, and the truth is that people are always free to make both good and bad decisions, with or without your consent. Sometimes people do things to their detriment, including us. The second thing is that acceptance also doesn’t mean you agree with their actions, you just agree that they made a particular choice. It means that you’re allowing yourself to experience people as they really are.
Acceptance means you that even though you reduce the mental chatter of what the person could or should do, you may still feel hurt. You may still feel disappointment. That’s the price we pay when we have any expectations at all, and that’s ok. All the disappointments are part of the natural growing pains as you release your own desires and embrace reality.
We understand that we have influence, and that is what probably drives us to continue to try to influence another person whether or not it is actually working. Figuring out when to move to acceptance feels like giving up but it’s not. It’s taking action on deciding what you want to do when people don’t change.
Are you afraid that you can’t love the person if you accept them as they are? Don’t be afraid. You can. You get to decide if you want to love them or if you don’t. It’s that simple.
The real work is deciding how to love a person that doesn’t change.
Loving a person who doesn’t change means that you choose to have loving thoughts about them even when you know the truth of who they are, good and bad. It is more than possible to love an unlovable person when accept them and you do it for your sake even more than theirs. When you base your decision on who you want to be and what experiences you want to create, you have emotional stability.
Emotional stability makes it possible to find peace with people that don’t change. When you practice radical acceptance there’s less resistance in the relationship, opening up the potential for transformation. The things that bothered you could either stop bothering you or disappear from the relationship. Conversations can become more open and vulnerable.
Try it. Do the work to love someone even if they don’t change. You may find that you become an evolved version of yourself. You may find that they wanted to change because you changed. You may end up finding that you don’t even need them to change after all.