Have you ever felt like someone was trying to change you?
Change is an inevitable part of life and something that many people resist. Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “if so-in-so would change that one thing, everything would be better?” If you can relate, Jay Shetty cautions that you may be the one who’s trying to change someone else.
There's a common saying that women get into relationships believing that over time their partner will change. Men get into relationships believing that over time their partner will stay the same.
The top three things that cause friction in a relationship are money, sex, and kids. The number one cause for divorce is money issues. Maybe you think your partner needs to change in one of these areas, but if you spend a lot of time and energy trying to get them to change, you are wasting your effort.
“For one, we often don't truly understand what's going on with the other person in the first place,” Jay Shetty shares. “The things we think they need to change may be off the mark. When it comes down to it, we really can't change other people.”
What are some reasons you might feel the need to change someone, and how can you overcome that feeling? In this article, Jay Shetty reveals why we try to change others and how we can cultivate compassion, tolerance, and patience instead.
Outcomes of Forced Change
If you’ve ever had someone try to change you, you can relate to how unpleasant it is for all parties involved.
“Think of what happens when we apply pressure to something,” says Jay Shetty. “It tends to push back. It's a force meeting a force, like in boxing. One person punches, and the other person punches back. In the end, there's usually a winner, but both participants end up exhausted and beat up.”
The same applies in relationships. The more force you use to try to get the other person to change, the more significant the pushback will be. Even though you may prevail, both people will be exhausted, and the relationship will take a hit.
Another thing that happens when you pressure someone to change is you may think you succeeded because your partner’s behavior changed, but it doesn’t last. Your partner shows you what you want to see, but the change is for outward appearances only. They do not make the change because they want to change. They only change to satisfy you.
If you’ve ever left a relationship breathing a sigh of relief that you can be yourself again, Jay Shetty warns that’s an indication you were making changes to keep that other person happy. It is a blessing you freed yourself from that. Changing to make others happy is exhausting and ultimately dissatisfying.
Avoidance is a natural response when you want to steer clear of situations that frustrate or make you angry. If you continue to badger someone about the things they need to change, they will stop engaging with you and find ways to avoid you at all costs.
Pushing someone to change usually results in a fight, fake changes, or fleeing. None of these things are conducive to real change or the health of your relationship.
What Motivates Your Need to Change Others
To move from wanting to change someone to cultivating tolerance and passion for that person, you need to identify your motivations for seeking the change. Sometimes the biggest motivator for seeking change in others is our own comfort.
“We don't like the discomfort of difference,” explains Jay Shetty. “So rather than trying to understand and communicate, we try to change those who challenge us in some way. We try to make the world around us more comfortable instead of working to become more understanding, compassionate, and patient.”
It feels easier to try to change someone other than ourselves. Most of the time, when we want someone else to change, it is because we are trying to avoid making changes ourselves. We would rather have the other person move out of their comfort zone so we don’t have to.
So how can you build more tolerance in situations where you want someone to change? Ask yourself how the other person feels in the situation and what you can do to understand where they are coming from. A shift in perspective will be helpful for both parties.
Another reason you may seek change in others is you don’t understand why the other person thinks or behaves the way they do. It can be difficult to understand how other people think differently than you, and that’s ok.
When you don’t communicate with the other person, you have no idea what influences their beliefs. Make an effort to sit down with that person and talk. Have a conversation, not to try and change their mind, but to see things from their perspective.
“The point is to find where you both have common ground,” Jay Shetty explains. “To do that, you have to be able to dive beneath the waves and the controversy of individual issues to where you have common beliefs. Once you find some common ground, ask if they would mind sharing with you why they believe their way. When you come upon a point where you are confused or don't agree, you can ask and try to understand, but don’t argue.”
Believing you are right all of the time is a big reason you expect others to change. If you are so convinced you are right, your ability to see someone else’s point of view is hindered. You don’t allow yourself to consider that someone else is right.
“Cognitive dissonance is a theory that states we are motivated to feel harmony and want our thoughts and actions to be in line with our values and beliefs,” Jay Shetty explains. “Or in other words, you think that you’re right. When we feel like something is out of line or sense we could be wrong, we shift our perceptions to keep us feeling like we're in the right.”
When we tie our identity to growth and learning, it allows for flexibility in the way we think. Still, if we connect our sense of identity to our rightness, it's tough to have compassion, empathy, or tolerance to shift our worldview.
Jay Shetty shares that he titled his first book Think Like a Monk because he believes the monk mindset is valuable for finding peace and purpose. It is about mastering one’s perspective instead of trying to force change on others. A monk can take a situation and shift their mindset to work in harmony with their circumstances.
“It comes not only from our actions, but from the way we perceive it and the way we choose to interact with it,” Jay Shetty explains. Most people choose to try and change the people and world around them instead of changing themselves.
“I'm not saying you can't change the world,” shares Jay Shetty. “What I'm saying is that in the process of trying to positively impact the world, you are changing yourself.”
Instead of changing other people, work on understanding where they are coming from and act with tolerance and understanding. You alone control your ability to change. That comes from within. It is not your job to change others.
If you want to support someone in making a change and getting motivated, try loving them where they are. Let that love work its magic on both of you. Try loving yourself where you are right now as well, and watch how your life changes.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “4 Reasons We Try To Change Others” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.[social_warfare]