We’ve all gone through that phase when people, friends or family, have a change of attitude towards you. Most often we tend to say “it is not my problem!”. S/he has a problem and hence the change in behaviour. When it is the other way around, we may tend to withdraw, switch off, keep telling ourselves if only they would be more like this or less like that, we would be happy.
The saying, ‘a leopard doesn’t change its spots,’ springs to mind, and we aren’t sure if we should let go or hang onto the relationship in the hope things will get better with time.
It’s worth recognizing we often put off telling people we find their behavior damaging until we are desperate for them to change. By then, they have acted in ways we find hard to cope with many times.
We may not speak up until the relationship is at breaking-point because we feel helpless and want circumstances to get better by themselves. Maybe, we fear the repercussions of requesting change too. Might the individual get angry? Reject us? Confirm our deepest fear that we aren’t valuable?
People might refuse to change because they don’t want to look at their behavior. They’ve spent years, perhaps a lifetime, avoiding unearthing difficult personality traits, and facing up to them is hard. And getting through to them is even harder.
So what do we do?
First, we must look at the evidence to see whether the change we want is likely. Next, we can consider if we really want to stay in the relationship as it is rather than rely on it getting better.
Remaining with someone when it hurts suggests we don’t have healthy boundaries, and we might be repeating an old habit where we wait for someone to treat us well, but they never do.
Although people sometimes change, they do so in their own good time, when they are ready. Most notably, you can’t force anyone to change or hurry the process. The best you can do is look at circumstances realistically, and base your decision whether to stay on the evidence in front of you.
Here is a story about a king who wants answers to three of his questions and therefore sends out his messengers throughout his kingdom, promising a large sum of money to anyone who would answer them. Many wise men come and answer differently. But their answers are not up to the standards. So, he decides to pay a visit to a hermit in his kingdom. Dressed up as an ordinary man, the king goes to the hermit’s hut, greets him and asks him those three questions-
- How can I learn to do the right thing at the right time?
- Who are the people I need the most?
- And what affairs are the most important?
Then, a series of things happen and finally when the king is about to leave, the hermit demonstrates his answers to those three questions in reference to the events that happen at his place. The hermit’s reply to the three questions are:
“Remember, there is only one time that is important and that time is ‘Now’. It is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power to act.
The most necessary person is the person you are with at a particular moment, for no one knows what will happen in the future and whether we will meet anyone else.
The most important business is to do that person good, because we
were sent into this world for that purpose alone.”
When I recall the hermit’s answers, they leave me musing! I was overwhelmed, thinking about how since childhood we have been taught the way of living, still throughout our lives we keep wandering in search of those answers!