Friday, August 16, 2013

How to Change People

The other day I heard a few words that have reverberated in my brain ever since. An older man said with eloquent sagacity, “If you want to change someone, change yourself.” He said it in a very matter of fact tone, and quickly moved on to other salient topics. But I kind of let this phrase linger in my conscious thoughts, to see if anything grandiose would materialize, for I knew that it potentially carried great weight. This post will be the nugget of wisdom that was created from the refinery process within my mind. Hopefully it is shiny and of some minor monetary value.

In life it is incredibly easy to be constantly annoyed by people. We are surrounded by terrible drivers. And we are of course all perfectly courteous road weavers ourselves. We have to deal with cranky people receiving minimum wage on a daily basis. And we would all clearly be sparkly personalities of overflowing joy if we worked for a tedious job we loathed. And then we have to deal with those closest to us. People tend to have poor personal hygiene, atrocious manners and the most perturbing idiosyncrasies. Some people talk way too much without any sort of tact. Some people text you incessantly until you return their message. Is there some sort of cosmic panacea for people that drive us crazy? Yes, but it is unlikely as easy as you would anticipate.

I think the best way to change someone and their god-awful habits and blood-curling eccentricities is to first look at ourselves. We should first ask ourselves why we are so easily off put by a specific course of action, or why we are so quick to lash out at someone for their putative wrong doings. The answer often lies in our own irritability. For one reason or another we are enveloped in stress and chaos, and the certain actions of a few seem to be the cement around our feet, causing us to drown. But it is after all a choice to become upset, to become annoyed. Look at the happiest people around; are they somehow avoiding all annoying people? Are they somehow exempt from confrontation and tragedy? No. they simply choose to not be irritated by the little things. They choose to view negativity as an insidious poison.

The truth is we have little power to change someone of their most primitive ways. We cannot alter peoples DNA or make decisions for them. We can however be good examples. We can mirror the type of people we wish to surround ourselves with. How unreasonable is it to want to hang around people slow to anger, if we are quick to anger? How incongruous to the laws of karma is it to expect endless politeness when we are often rude and caustic with people?

Sometimes people truly do need to change. Maybe they are in the doldrums of depression. Maybe they are entangled in the thick briars of addiction. How can we change these people? While an intervention or forced therapy is sometimes the answer, it is usually not. Usually we need to go back and look at ourselves. Do we love this person as much as we should? Are we judging them as little as possible? Are we availing ourselves to them if they need our help? If not, why are we wasting so much energy on simply hoping they change, or bemoaning the fact that they are not?

In summation, I think we have to follow the wise words of Michael Jackson, and start with the man in the mirror. Far too often we are of the opinion that our varied weaknesses and shortcomings are far less sinful or relevant than that of those around us. That is not the case. And we do not know the plight others have taken. So let us change others by changing ourselves.


  1. I believe a man who is was almost as smart as me said "Be the change you want to see in the world" also, this seems relevant

    "This is Water"

  2. This post literally brought tears to my eyes. Probably because I worked 48 hrs in the last 4 days and am a little on edge from this crazy week I've had. Non the less what a great reminder of how to be selfless and non judgmental I love you big brother keep up the awesome wisdom :). #soakingupeveryword

  3. Thanks Dani. You are so sweet. That comment alone means the world to me. See you tonight for games and giggles.

  4. Great post. Loved the topic. Just two comments:

    The first: your words and the topic in general reminded me of this video (“Looking through windows”, based on a wonderful Thomas S. Monson talk).

    The second: I just came back from BYU's campus, new campus for me. A couple days ago, this acquaintace of mine found out that I was in town and offered me his help with anything I might need help with, especially concerning BYU, his alma mater. When you're in a new place, any kind of help is more than welcome, so I said yes right away and we proceeded to talk about the day and time we would meet. The funny thing about this is the fact that two years ago, when I first met him, I found him sort of unbearable. We worked together for six weeks on an intership and, as the days went by, I would feel more and more annoyed by him. He didn't even realize a little I felt a annoyed by him, though, so he just kept being his normal self, acting and talking as if we were the closest friends ever.

    But you know what? I just feel different about him now. I'm so thankful for what he offered to do and for being so nice about it. I'm starting to think about him as an honest friend. Not exactly because he's changed, although he might be, but actually because I've changed. I've realized that I most probably have caused people to feel annoyed so many times in the past.... and in the present; I might even have caused him a lot of pain just being my normal self.

    So sometimes the way we see people and feel about them has a lot to do with how we DECIDE we want to see and feel about them.

  5. Hey Taylor, thanks again for another thoughtful yet inspirational blog. I become habituated to it and cannot wait till the next one. I hope you don't mind me sharing a thought that was some what relevant to your post. This thought has stuck with me since my last run near the ocean cliffs. My friend Tiffany and i were finishing up the last part of our jog. We were running through trails that were easy access for both the young and old, and that gave way to some of the most peaceful ocean scenery you could imagine. The weather was agreeable with a 72 degree temp and everyone and their dog (quite literally) were out on this trail. Whilst running we came upon a narrowing trail where on the other side was a group of older ladies. The women were of all variables short, tall, round, skinny, grayed and what have you. The were all chatting and smiling quite comparable to a group of cackling hens (hence the juxtaposition). We of course being our extroverted self's struck up a conversation. These women were all brought together to celebrate their 45th High school reunion. Some of these extraordinary women had at one time been cheerleaders, drama queens, home coming queens, track stars... you name it. Some of these ladies hadn't liked each other or at times couldn't stand each other. They were now all walking on the same path towards the same exact destination (Deep i Know). We of course inquired about their years in-between and their accomplishments. We talked about ourselves and our future dreams. When we had departed we felt as though we had just made new friends. Although those women said a lot of wonderful things, there was one piece of advice that rung clear. There must have been 7 women and each woman was in agreement with one thing, 5,10,15 those reunions didn't matter. They said show up after 25 years and see what really matters. Frankly all the stuff that seemed so important while we were young has dissolved and now we have a real story to tell. At least 4 women said, and i quote"We are just happy to be alive, that's all that really matters now." I believe that you're right! we have to change ourselves but, i also believe that maybe time will do that for us If we are willing to grow and Learn. It's also great to know in the end we can all look past our differences and enjoy each other.
    Thanks again Taylor