Recently I had a group of people say they were going to “pray for me”. This was because I disagreed with them and they thought I should change my mind. My thought was “That’s not how that works.” We cannot change other people, we can only change ourselves. Every human being was gifted with free will and because of that other people cannot be changed.
That might be disheartening to read. Is there no hope? I am not saying that. People can on their own decide to change but we cannot make it happen either by prayer, words or force. They must make that decision on their own. Instead we each have to work on ourselves and through that may even influence their change. If something someone has said or done has caused us pain, hurt, or discomfort we need to ask ourselves why and heal.
I always tell my clients that we can only control our actions, our reactions, our thoughts, our words, and our feelings. Unfortunately there are many things out of our control like the weather, other people, or deployments (military spouse here). So if something is out of our control we must change our mindset around it not expect it to change for us. We can continue to allow that thing or person to bother and eat away at us or we can heal and move on. If we don’t we are only hurting ourselves in the process.
How can we change ourselves:
1) Identify what’s not serving you anymore. Whether this is thoughts, actions, words, relationships or situations.
2) Ask yourself what can you do personally to change these things. Remember you can change your mindset or take an action personally.
3) Identify why these things are not serving you anymore and how they got to this place.
4) Ask what you need to do to avoid getting in similar situations in the future.
5) Take your first step towards change. Start small and take it one step at a time.
In order to make a change we must take ownership of our part of a situation. By placing the blame solely on other things or people we are doing ourselves a disservice. It’s like wanting to lose weight but blaming your weight gain on the company that makes your favorite, not so good for you, snack . Yes they made it but you ate it. We have to take ownership in our part of our story.
Until we take ownership of our part in our lives it’s nearly impossible to change. When we place the blame solely on others and think we can change them we only do harm to ourselves .Instead of healing we marinate in the situation. Then it’s no longer the person or thing causing us pain, hurt or discomfort it’s ourselves.
Many times people think that they can force change by praying for it or posting on social media about it or continuing to speak to others about it. That won’t force change because we can’t control other people or even some situations. Then we aren’t being proactive in our actions to change ourselves either through growth or healing. This will only allow things to fester and compound making what happened worse not better.
For the rest of my life I could marinate in the fact that I was verbally abused by my father as a teenager. I could pray that he would change and apologize for his behavior. Maybe I could post on social media condemning his behavior. I could speak to other people about how horrible he is. If I did that twenty years from now I would still be hurting. Instead I chose to heal, forgive, and move on. I’ve put him at arms length and don’t allow him to opportunity to inflict that kind pain onto me anymore.
Don’t allow other people or things to change your life. Only you should have that control. We cannot change other people, we can only change ourselves. Remember as always YOU ARE ENOUGH!!!