Throughout the past 1-2 months, I’ve done a lot of self-reflection on being “the changer.” I know that they (whoever “they” is) say that you shouldn’t try to change people, but that didn’t eliminate the fact that I made the efforts to do so throughout my life. Many times, it is unintentional, but sometimes I purposefully select words to work towards my ultimate goal of changing the mindset of another individual. Then throughout these recent weeks, I’ve continuously heard statements, songs and read pieces of text that have been reminding me that there’s only ONE person whom I can honestly change – and that’s myself.
This morning I received a text from a family member, expressing a recent heartbreak that was experienced. I knew this person was internally asking “why,” and sure enough, that question soon came across my phone. I went right back to this repeated nagging in my life that is reminding me that we cannot change anyone, but ourselves. Although I know we do not easily accept this concept when we are in a struggle, it remains to be true.
In my own life, I’ve found myself trying to change different thoughts or behaviors within others. As I mentioned, it was often done unintentionally or without malice; however, I do acknowledge that it was wrong to begin with. I was focusing on what someone else is thinking or doing, when instead I should only be working on changing myself. Instead of consuming my thoughts with what others are (or are not) doing, I should create new paths for my personal thoughts and actions. Even if it’s just something small, like the fact that my husband (I sure do love him!) insists on turning the teakettle so that it faces outward after he uses it. No matter how many mornings I turn it back in the “right” direction, he will surely have it back outward the next evening after he uses it. So many times I shouted in my head, “Why doesn’t he just turn it the RIGHT way!?!” I spent all of those moments nitpicking at what he was doing, when I should have invested that time in changing my mindset because there’s no mature reason for me to spend even a second caring about which direction the teakettle is facing. Instead of spending that time trying to change an aspect of my husband, I should have humbled myself and reflected on why the dog has a more excited greeting when my husband arrives home from a long workday than the greeting that I give him. I tried to justify it in my head by saying statements such as: “I’ve been chasing this toddler around all day,” or “I have Little One bouncing around, while trying to keep the dog quiet and get dinner on the table without ruining it,” or “I’m tired. I’m just tired.” And even though those recordings playing in my mind have some credibility, they were ill directed. Instead of trying to make excuses for my behavior, I should have invested time in working towards being a better person and wife.
So, now I’m finally breaking through and not just acknowledging what’s true, but also acting on it. I’m working on changing myself – my thoughts, my words, my actions. Instead of wasting time trying to change anyone else. It is not my responsibility to be “the changer.” I do not do everything right and so my way of thinking and behaving is not what everyone else should be changed into. No matter how sincere my efforts are, I cannot permanently change someone; that must come from inside one’s self. With those truths, I’m entering into a commitment to myself to focus on only changing the one person I genuinely can make meaningful, sustained change within – myself!
Ahmeli…that we focus on changing ourselves for the better, rather than using those efforts towards trying to change someone else.
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