There will be many instances in your life where you don’t agree with what someone is saying. You might even have a thing or two to say about how they are living their life. But often you will be quiet and let them continue with what they are saying or doing. After all, their life probably has no effect on your own life. What about when you are trying to change someone? Especially when that person is someone who is close to you, like a family member, or romantic partner?
You might find yourself struggling to ignore whatever it is they are doing. And instead start coming up with ways that you can change their thoughts or behavior. But, not only is your pursuit of trying to change them a pointless one, it is also unhealthy for all involved.
Image: Gizele Oliveira
Reasons why not to try to change someone
Have you found yourself expending time and energy into trying to change someone and you are becoming frustrated at the lack of results? Then read through the reasons below why you need to stop this behavior immediately.
You Are Being Selfish
Let’s be honest here, you are probably not trying to change the person because you think it will improve their life. Rather, you are most likely doing it because it will better your life, or make you happier even. It’s a matter of self-improvement. Changing someone so they think the same things that you think or behave is completely selfish.
It can be hard to accept, but your way isn’t always the best way. Actually, it isn’t always the correct way, and we can’t all think and feel the same way. Adults can make their own choices, and form their own opinions. So, if the person in question isn’t doing anything wrong, but instead, simply just not what you want, then you are putting your happiness first. Sometimes, even if you don’t agree, you just have to let people do what they want.
You Wouldn’t Accept it if the Roles Were Reversed
Just imagine for a second if someone in your life was trying to change you, where they were often dropping hints or giving you unwarranted advice on what you should do or say instead. What if someone was outright telling you that you were living a part of your life in the wrong manner? Even though you were causing no harm, and were happy in your life.
You wouldn’t like it, would you? You may even be brave enough to tell this person that they need to back off or leave you alone. Wouldn’t the situation be even worse if it was your spouse or maybe a sibling telling you these things? Not only would you be irritated, but you might also feel hurt, or not good enough. It is important to remember how you are making someone feel each time you drop hints for change.
It is a Waste of Your Time
Time is precious, we all know this! So, why do you want to waste any of your time in trying to force someone to change? It will most probably never work, and you could spend months or years repeating yourself with no results. Besides, even if after an investment of all your time they do start to change, will you feel good about it? They may change and be the person you want them to be, but this means they are not being themselves.
This person is no longer an authentic version of the person they are. They are simply a version of the person that you want. Who wins in this situation? They don’t get to live as themselves. Instead, they have to always be thinking about how they should behave to please you. And you have to live knowing that all these changes and any unhappiness they are experiencing are because of you. It doesn’t seem like such a win-win situation in the end.
You will be Seen as Controlling
People always notice changes in someone’s behavior. So it stands to reason that the friends and family of the person you are trying to change will notice their changing personality. They will also be able to figure out pretty quickly that the changes have started to happen since you entered their life. And you now have the reputation of being controlling and manipulative!
These are some of the worst traits a person can have. There is nothing positive about either of these characteristics, and you will not feel good about yourself. Especially, if you start to hear the gossip and snide comments that you are overbearing and over-controlling. People are born to be shaped and moulded in a positive way, but not to be controlled; you have no right to control or manipulate anyone.
You will Lose
Persistence in trying to change a person will normally result in a loss for you, in more than one way.
Firstly, you will most likely lose the battle in changing someone. Especially someone stubborn. It is a nearly impossible task, and you will lose; you will rarely change someone to become exactly who you want them to be, you will never be happy.
Secondly, you could lose that person from your life; this person will become fed up of your persistence. You might make them feel like they are not good enough for you anyway. Or they might just feel annoyed at what you are doing. You could easily lose your relationship with them, with your friend, your partner, your family member. Them removing themselves from your life will be a great emotional loss to you, is it really worth the risk?
The feeling of wanting to change someone often comes from a feeling of control. You want to be in control of your life, and you want to be in control of their life too. It might not be this way through bad intention, but it won’t come across positively to anyone on the receiving end.
Therefore, take this need for control, and focus it all on yourself. Use it for your own self-improvement! Be the best person you can be and disregard any thoughts you have of making others be the best they can be. Trying to change something will rarely end well! But if you truly love and care for this person, then you don’t need to change them anyway. You already love the person they are!