What do you do if you want someone to be different and you want them to change? How do you do this? This is a common question that clients bring to counselling. And I don’t know the answer. We simply can’t change other people. It’s no good having a relationship with someone based on the idea that you can change them. It never works and often ends in disappointment and resentment. We can only change ourselves and how we deal with something or someone. And when we realise this we may notice that other people start to change how they are with us.
Imagine that you have a friend who always puts you down in front of other people and makes fun of you. You might allow this to continue because you like this person (and maybe some counselling could help you to figure that one out) or because you feel that you have to put up with it because you need to please others and you don’t want other people to think badly of you (again some counselling could help to understand this too). Now imagine that the next time this ‘friend’ put you down that you said in a firm and neutral way ‘I don’t like being made fun of.’ What do you think would happen? We can’t know for sure but it’s likely that your ‘friend’ would be surprised and really hear that they had gone too far. They would recognise that they had hurt your feelings. It’s possible that other people would think ‘good for you to stick up for yourself….I wish I was able to do that.’ A small change can have a big impact. Imagine now what your life would be like if you were able to be assertive in a respectful way. Maybe there would be no more angry outbursts or stored up resentments. Maybe you’d stop putting up with people who didn’t deserve to be in your life.