Changing Other People

I've got the best and worst news: you can't.

I want to preface this by saying, what spured the idea for this post was seeing women comment on pages with large followings telling them, "You should speak up." Now, have I personally spoken up? Yes. Have I told others to speak up? No. Why? Read on if you're curious.

If you've read any of my other blogs, you know that there are circumstances and there are our thoughts about the circumstances. Our thoughts about circumstances create our feelings, which create our actions, which create our results. You might have noticed I emphasized our. We are the ones who are responsible for what we think, feel, do and create, and we call this group of circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions and results, the model. Each of our thoughts has it's own model. Our models are our models. Other people have their own models. If you are a visual person, it would look like to separate circles.

We always think we know how other people should behave. We think people doing things differently are doing it wrong. This happens in far less intense times than we're experiencing right now, and of course, right now. We think we know what they should say, what they should do. My teacher calls this the manual. Most of us have manuals for our husbands, our parents, our leaders. It's an (often) unspoken set of rules for other peoples' behavior. It might sound like, "they should ..." or "they shouldn't..."  These can even seem like perfectly reasonable thoughts, "Well of course she should speak up. She has a massive platform. It's her responsibility. She's a leader." Or, "Oh my gosh, I cannot believe she isn't wearing a mask. That's really irresponsible." Or, "They shouldn't riot."

The problem with this is, we cannot control other people.

When we're trying to control, it comes from emotions like fear, anger, righteousness, and judgement. The thoughts that cause those emotions completely shut you down and narrow your focus. It's all you can see. They are wrong, they're doing it wrong, they shouldn't be doing that, they should be doing this, I can't believe they won't. In terms of your energy, it's like you're in a sports car, gunning the engine while in park. It's fruitless, exhausting, and causes internal damage, and, sometimes if it get's hot enough, external damage. You can decide what you make it mean that someone is or isn't doing something that you want them to do. You can unfollow them, not pay them money, stop supporting them - that's where your power is in that situation. However, how do you feel when you take those actions? Maybe you feel calm about it, but my guess is you're still acting from a place of judgement and righteousness.

The second problem with this is, you're giving away all of your power. If only they would do this thing that I want them to do. If only they would stop doing this thing I don't want them to do. THEN I will feel better. Then I will feel good. You're unknowingly making someone or something the perpetrator, and yourself the victim. There is no power in victim-hood. There is no power in trying to control other people. You're going to feel weak and tired and angry. AND nothing changes.

So what can I do? How do I create change? You control what you can control. Yourself. You manage your mind first and foremost. You decide how you want to think and feel about any given circumstance. That's not to say you want to feel good about murder and about death and about structural racism. I don't. You'll probably want to feel sad and angry. And then what. Your greatest power and your greatest strength is in your mind. What can be done to enact the change you want to see? Side note, you can always make requests of people. Always. But when making a request, the other person doesn't have to do what you're requesting them to do. In "big" situations and "small" situations (all situations are circumstances and all circumstances are neutral - there is no big and small, we make them big or small by the stories we tell about them, individually and collectively.) If you're hanging your emotional health on someone else doing something so you can feel better, you're always going to be hurting and at the effect of others and you won't be in your power.

Your power is in your ideas. Your power is asking yourself good questions like, "Who do I want to be in this situation?" or "What can I do to get better? or "How can I help?" Your power is coming up with ideas for change that produce emotions like focused, determined, committed, willing. And when you take actions from those emotions, you'll start producing the change you want to see.

If you want help working through powerful emotions, or you'd like to learn more about what coaching can do for you, schedule a free consultation. I can help you take all of your power back.

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