This post originally appeared here in Change Your Mind Change Your Heart.
Giving Of Your Heart Rather Than Your Head
How many times have you been through this? You were patient. You were kind. You cared dearly. You tried to understand. You love them to bits. Yet you don’t know why they kept falling for the same crap, over and over again.
And you’re thinking to yourself, why won’t they change?
I’m sure you had that one person in your life that stretches the limits of your compassion. I know you’re not complaining. You’re more than willing to stand alongside them during rough times.
Yeah, but how long more?
This is not about whether you should continue to be at their side as they recover. The question is whether or not they even want to recover.
Why won’t they believe in themselves?
Why won’t they get their crap together?
Why won’t they do something?
People will generally do what they think is right and what they deeply desire. No matter what you say or how much you’ve said, their actions will be motivated by their beliefs. Nothing that you’ve said would convince them unless they decide to change.
But what if they don’t notice their mistakes? What if they don’t know they need to change? What if they don’t realize the consequence of their actions?
There is no “what ifs”.
The painful truth is, until they see what they need to see, they will never see the need to change. And they will continue exactly where they left off.
And for you to worry sick over them will not do any good, for you or them.
Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.
Sure, I get it. As a friend, family member, colleague, buddy, it’s your job to inspire them to change. You can educate them and support them, but you can’t make them change. Even if you’re totally convinced it’s for their own good.
You just have to let people be.
You just have to come to terms with the fact that everyone lives their own life. Letting someone be means accepting who they are, and allowing them to do things that may be different from your own actions.
Does it matter if you dislike or even disapprove of their behavior? Sadly not, but it’s the better alternative and it’s definitely a freeing thought process. Because to do otherwise would require some sort of coercion either by force, threat or manipulation. In the long run, that’ll be ineffective. It is an illusion that we’re able to make someone change. We’re taking on the weight of false responsibility that will lead to guilt and self-blame.
You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen.
Letting people be does not always come easy. The difficulty arises when certain expectations aren’t being met and therefore create dissatisfaction.
Whose expectations are we talking about? Unmistakably yours. Therefore it’s important to recognize your boundaries. Everyone handles life differently and overstepping boundaries mean crossing into the forbidden zone. Accept that there are things beyond your power to control.
That doesn’t mean you can’t help, or you can’t be loving anymore, or have to stop extending compassion. Sometimes it might even require you to walk away with a heavy heart. Responding in such a manner does not make you a bad person.
Quit wasting your time, energy, and resources over someone who has no intention to change because that’s a recipe for frustration.
The danger of offering unsolicited advice shows your lack of faith in them. You would be imposing your ideas and solutions, claiming them to be better. You are indirectly hinting that you don’t believe in their capacity to change.
Step into their shoes and listen from their perspective. You don’t need to lead, instead you can help them explore a thought in more depth.
You don’t have to formulate what you believe are perfect solutions for their problems. They won’t get it because they are not ready to receive it. And you have to see them as people, not broken things in need of repair. People simply differ in views and opinions. Anyone can get defensive when confronted about their negative consequences. Don’t push it. You need to preserve your sanity and wellbeing.
Sometimes it can be confusing. It may seem that they agree with you for a while. They know they need help and that they want to do better. But that desire is short-lived, until something else comes up and trigger that cycle all over again.
Change is self-generated. Until they reach a point where they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, they will not initiate the change. People will only change when they feel they are ready to. You don’t need to get mad when your best advice backfires, or feel guilty because you don’t want to keep seeing them getting hurt.
Choose to respond differently.
You don’t have to leave. You don’t have to avoid them. There’s no reason to get annoyed or upset. You don’t even have to resign to hopelessness.
Give them room to mull over their destructive behaviors. Be a good listener. Don’t try to formulate your response. Simply listen. Chances are, that might be all they want you to do. You need to remind yourself that in many cases, the less said, the better.
It’s about being present and learning to listen with your whole heart, without judgment. Don’t think that you are allowing them to continue in their misconduct. Instead, think of it as you are holding space for them to generate hope for themselves and taking responsibility for their own experience.
That’s the trick in all of this. You can only love them as much as you choose to. There is nothing more important than being present and showing up for the people who need it most.
Problems come with a host of issues such as stress and anxiety. Most do not have straightforward answers. Go easy on them but remember that you are not their savior. Don’t attempt to fix them just because you perceive you’re a few steps ahead.
Trust them to make their own decisions and continue to love them, while you mind your own business, doing what you need to do to be happy.
You have your own demons to fight and battles to go through every day. Give yourself the emotional support and love. Be strong for yourself first, and trust the universe to work out the rest.