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.