Stop Changing Other People and Begin To Change You

cup of coffee on a table

I have recently noticed that when I listen to people sharing about what’s wrong in their lives, it appears that they look deep within to describe what’s wrong, but then the focus so often becomes what someone else needs to be doing differently so that they can then feel better. Have you ever looked within for what’s wrong, but reached without for how to fix it?

What’s makes this so unrewarding is that change and happiness so often need to come from within. We just can’t change others no matter how hard we try. But, seeking our own happiness first often results in better relationships.  

Someone the other day said to me, “I need my space.” My partner is just so smothering. I need him to do, A, B, and C and stop doing D, E, and F.  She had already decided that if he could just do all of these things, her life would start to improve. There was nothing really in her control that would help her feel better; No mention of learning how to healthfully co-exist with others, or whether or not she was practicing the things she knows are good for her and make her happy, no realization of what steps she could take to bring peace, fulfillment and joy. The solution was completely outside herself.

How many times have we all felt that if our spouse could just do the things that we need them to do, then we could finally be happy? In a perfect world where we held remote controls for other people’s lives, all would be well! But, what a boring world we would live in…

I tend to think that so much of what we truly need to be happy can be found within ourselves. This is where the process of feeling better really needs to begin. If we start by addressing fist the changes we can make on our own, there is sometimes little need to ask our spouse for any change at all. Relationships were never meant to be a series of requests to be different, or to be more like you! If God wanted two of you, he probably would have made you an identical twin!

The next time you take a deep look inside and notice feelings within, take another step within and ask yourself, “what do I want this day to look like?” “What can I do to help me get there?” “How can I find happiness in co-existing with this person?” “Is there something that I need to be doing for myself that I am not doing now that I know brings me happiness?” “Am I frequently looking outside myself to fix feelings I have inside?” “Is it always someone else’s fault that I feel this way?”

The truth is we all want happiness, but most of us go after it by trying to change other people or the circumstances we are in. I like to think of happiness as something we can always find.

“Seek first His kingdom and righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)