“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:22-24
For years, I thought I could change the attitudes and behaviors of others. If I didn’t agree with what someone I cared about was doing, or how he or she was acting, I often made it my job to “fix” the situation or “fix” them. I employed all the tricks of the trade; persuasion, manipulation, guilt, blame, shame, payback, –– and even throwing out a white lie from time to time – which, for the record, is a lie, no matter how I tried to justify it.
When I began working with a counselor and life coach some years back, one of the first things he convinced me of was, “I can’t change other people.” He helped me accept the fact that it’s the other person’s choice to change and God’s job to do the changing. Rather than focusing on what was wrong with other people, I had to learn to focus on what was wrong with the one person I could change, “me.”
It’s true, we can influence the responses, actions, and reactions of others by managing how we respond, act and react. But, we cannot change anyone, except ourselves. I’ve had people ask me if they should consider counseling even if their spouses won’t go. My answer is yes.
When one person gets help, things change!
When one spouse learns new relational skills, it changes the rhythm of the relationship and creates an atmosphere where the other spouse is likely influenced in positive ways.
Are you ready to give up trying to change others and concentrate on changing you?