You Can Only Change Yourself
I was going through a couple of motivational quotes the other day and I stumbled upon this quote by Katharine Hepburn, “You learn in life that the only person you can really correct and change is yourself.” When I think of it, I think it’s one of the most important lessons you can learn in life. I also have first-hand experience of how hard it can be to learn this lesson.
We waste a lot of our valuable time and energy being angry and frustrated by other people’s actions. These are independent individuals who, probably, have grown up knowing they are right. It is ridiculous and a little absurd to think that you would get them to act, think and want the same things you do. One of the reasons we are always trying changing other people is because we try to react to situations emotionally rather than rationally.
It is not wrong to advice or give your thoughts when you are not pleased by another person’s actions but that is just it. Give your views for a maximum of two times and leave it at that. If you keep insisting on them how bad their actions are, you will be doing more harm than good.
To make the world a better place, for you and everyone around you, start by changing yourself instead. For starters, when your partner, friend or coworker, behaves in a manner that you do not like, record your thoughts. You may be moved to respond negatively to these actions but instead, record your thoughts in a journal. If you’ve asked them to change more than once, do not do it again.
Changing your thoughts is hard enough. We have heard of people spending years in psychotherapy trying to understand their own behaviors and thoughts in order to change them. The conduct you expect from the other person may be the conduct you have been trying to uphold yourself without much success. Therefore, instead of trying to force them to change, why not develop that behavior and create a positive influence in your environment? By doing this, you get to live a happier life.
Think of the situation in families. Most have us have annoying siblings. And, no matter how much we reprimand them, they never change. We may opt to move away from them, avoid speaking to them ever, but this doesn’t help. There are situations where you may need to come together as a family, for instance, in a family business. You will have to tolerate their behavior whether you like or not. The best way to handle this situation is to change your own behavior, response and reaction to their behavior. You will never go wrong when you make this decision. Trying to change them only destroys the relationship.
The same case applies to intimate relationships. Trying to change your partner’s behavior is toxic to your relationship. When you go down this road, all you’ll get are unnecessary quarrels and numerous heartbreaks. I mentioned before, some people grew up believing that their behavior is alright. Others may have tried to change but didn’t succeed. When you try to change them, you’ll be driving a nail through a fresh wound for the latter group. Change your own conduct and response to their behavior and you’ll have peace. It’s okay to tell them you’re not happy about their actions a few times. After that, it’s up to them to decide to change or not. If they’ve not decided yet, don’t pressure them.
I think this concept is the reason why the famous Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If we want to see a better world, we have to do things that make us happy. If we want to see a certain conduct in our co-workers, employees, partners or family members, we must show this conduct ourselves. We have no control over our how other people decide to conduct ourselves, but we can change the world by becoming the change ourselves.
We should dedicate more effort being positive examples and we will create positive changes in the world around us. We cannot make people see they need to change. We cannot help people who do not want to help themselves. Our role is to be the best versions of ourselves, and they will see the need through our positive influence.