“How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?” Matthew 7:4 (NLT)
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 they were acting, I often made it my job to try to “fix” the situation or “fix” them. Through the years, I employed all the tricks of the trade: persuasion, manipulation, guilt, blame, shame, payback. Sometimes, I went as far as to cover things up that others had done, or did what I thought needed to be done instead of waiting for the other person to do it.
It’s true, we can influence the responses, actions, and reactions of other people by managing how we respond, act, and react, but we cannot change them. The only person we can really change — is us. I’ve had women ask me if they should consider going to counseling even if their husbands won’t go. My answer is yes!
When one person gets help, things begin to change!
When one spouse learns new relational skills, it changes the rhythm of the relationship and can create an atmosphere where the other spouse is influenced in positive ways. For example, if one spouse learns to identify, understand, and manage emotional triggers, they will begin responding differently to those triggers and change the typical effect they have on the relationship. Or, when one spouse learns new communication skills, it changes the pattern of conversations. One of my most sensitive triggers came from my childhood where I learned to fear people who raised their voice. Therefore, until I identified this trigger, I repeatedly tried to be the persistent peacemaker, attempting to control situations that might stir up another person’s anger. In reality, I needed to realize my fear, talk openly about it, and learn to control and properly respond to other people’s anger rather than trying to keep everyone around me from getting angry.
Are you in need of change? If we regularly take time to examine our own attitudes and behaviors, we can be proactive in learning to manage them.
There are a host of destructive behaviors we can find ourselves trapped in. Whether it’s something seemingly harmless like a lack of boundaries, enabling, overloading schedules, or reacting before we think. Or, if it’s something more obviously harmful such as being pushy, demanding, impatient, defensive, critical, aggressive, or lying, cheating, stealing, isolating, or succumbing to addiction.
We must take time to identify and manage our negative behaviors because they directly impact our emotional, physical, and spiritual health as well as, the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of others around us!.
Are you ready to give up trying to change others and concentrate on changing you? If so, join me in taking time to implement the following important steps:
- Take out a pen and a piece of paper, find a quiet place to spend 10-20 minutes in prayer asking God to reveal specific areas in your life that need to change.
- Write down the areas God reveals to you and pray for wisdom regarding the specific steps you need to take to begin to manage your own negative behaviors, habits, and/or attitudes.
- Share your struggles with a safe friend or counselor and ask them to support and encourage you as you identify and learn to properly manage these changes in your life.
- Set aside time each day to read your list and journal the progress of your healing journey.
- Encourage a friend to join you in taking these steps to make courageous changes.