I am sure you have experienced moments when you thought to yourself: “I just need him/her to be a little bit more attentive/ ambitious/ healthy/ relaxed/ loving/ patient/ adventurous.” Maybe you have even said to yourself “Unless she/he changes her habits/ attitude/ opinion, I won’t be happy” or “I can only do this, if she/he changes _____ about themselves.”
Haven’t we all tried to change someone else at one point or another? A lover, a partner, a friend, a parent?
Last year, I saw Kris Carr, New York Times Best-selling author, wellness activist and cancer thriver (through her lifestyle choices, she is able to live with incurable cancer... I know, amazing!) speak. She is a true inspiration and I loved her way of seeing life, so I was pumped to watch her live. During Q & A, a woman in the audience asked Kris how she could get her husband to make healthier nutritional choices. Kris said something that has stuck with me since.
She said: “The only people you can change are those who are in diapers.” Genius, I thought, and funny! (Tweet it!)
If you want people who are close to you to make changes –lifestyle changes in particular- the only way to really get them to embrace that change is by facilitating their own authentic desire to change.
The way to do that is to model to them what their life will be like once they make a certain change. For the woman in the audience, this meant to do exactly what she wanted her husband to start doing. By eating clean and nutritious food and treating her body with endless love and care, she would wake up in the morning with lots of energy and feeling great. Her physical body would become increasingly well, her mind awake, and her spirit clear. The more she reaped the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle, the more her husband would want to join her in it… not because she convinced him to, but because he really wanted to himself.
Of course there are situations when you need to have a frank and direct talk with someone, but when it comes to making a change in lifestyle choices, this is the way to go.
This has been true in my relationship as well: My now fiancé (<3 ;)!) Raz has shown me how to relax more without feeling guilty. I am a do-er by nature and nurture and relaxing was something I wasn’t always good at because it wasn’t “productive.”
I remember one of the first times Raz and I were sitting on the couch together and I asked “So, what are we doing today?” and he simply responded “Well, right now, we are just hanging out on the couch.” WOW, I thought, ok, I guess I can try this (even though, admittedly, my inner hectic accomplisher was a bit thrown off).
Over the last three years of our relationship, I have learned so much when it comes to relaxing guilt-free because Raz is modeling it to me and I watch him reap the benefits of a calmer mind, which is something I have always wanted but unconsciously resisted in the way I was acting and choosing to fill my calendar. I embraced that change because I really wanted to and he gave me the space to slowly try it on. Needless to say, it has proven to be amazing!
In return, I have gotten him to eat healthier (he now confidently uses the word quinoa) and work out more because he witnessed the positive impact it had on my energy levels and sleeping patterns. Neither of these changes happened over night, but it happened gradually and authentically not because we forced each other but because we lived our different lifestyle choices in front of each other’s eyes.
So, if you want someone to become more loving, be more loving. If you want someone to be more adventurous, show them how awesome an adventurous life is by embracing adventure yourself. If you want someone to change their habits, show them alternative ones. If you want someone to be more respectful of you, start with being the utmost respectful to yourself first.
In the comments below, I would love to hear what you would like to change about someone and how you might be able to go about encouraging that change naturally and authentically.
Lots of love, patience, and authenticity to you.