We have all heard it – You can’t change him. You can’t change her. You can only change yourself.
But do we really believe it? In fact, don’t we really at times want to change our partner or friend. We just think that if they took our advice for change they would be happier. And then when they don’t make the change we get frustrated.
It is really hard to wrap our brains giving up trying to change the other person.
Hannah loved her husband but when he got started drinking at parties and becoming obnoxious Hannah would start giving him “the look”. Then she would take away his drink. Then she would take him aside and read him the riot act.
Hannah was trying to change him and he was having no part of it.
Doesn’t Hannah have a point though? The drinking was a problem. Well, it was a problem for her, wasn’t a problem for him – yet.
So in what ways can Hannah change? She needs to be honest about how his drinking affects her -‘ I feel embarrassed when you start making fun of our friends when you have been drinking’. She can set boundaries to protect herself emotionally -” I would rather not go to parties with you if you are going to drink. It is too embarrassing and upsetting to me.”
Hannah has to take care of herself, be clear about how she feels, what she needs and set boundaries. Will her husband stop drinking as a result? Don’t know but Hannah will feel better and she will be becoming a healthy person who can communicate clearly and kindly.
The same goes for any situation when someone else’s behavior concerns or distresses you. Know how you feel, know what you need, know what your boundaries are. Life will be better for you.
*Questions or thoughts? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org