A good rule to remember when it comes to relationships is, “What you see is what you get” – at least most of the time.
If we want to form lasting relationships with others, we must start by being happy with who the other person is. It is courting disaster when you bring thoughtless, abusive, or angry people into your life assuming that under your influence they will change. Now, this change is possible, but it won’t come from you. For the other person, it must come from a position of wanting to change, not having to change.
You see, what’s likely to happen is, you will change your behavior to accommodate them, rather than the other way around. Again, the point is that change is not something we can force on other people. Change comes from within. And, when people are pushed by outside forces, they push back.
If, in major ways, the people in our lives are not what we think they should be, nagging them or manipulating them to change is not the way to go. Change will never happen if we are certain we are always right, or if we believe that the fault lies always with the other person.
Perhaps if we were to allow them the dignity of being who they are without our criticism, we might find change happening naturally of its own accord. One thing is certain. When we give up blaming and criticizing our spouses and others we love, our relationships with them improve enormously.
At the same time, their self-esteem and feelings of competence increase as well. You see, we can help others to change, and support their own change efforts. We can be their own personal cheer squad to encourage them in their goals for change. It’s just not helpful to try to choose their direction for them. We need to let others walk in their own shoes, not force them to walk in ours.