But They’re Not Listening to Me!

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor E. Frankl

When we decide to change something in our lives and begin to take large steps, there is something that occurs to all of us: we begin looking at others with a critical eye.

While we have vowed to eat healthier and don’t even bring a bag of crackers into the house, our partner continues to partake in his joyful evening ritual of beer and chips in front of the television. We come home to find that the kitchen we’ve cleaned to laboratory standards of hygiene and organization has been turned into a battlefield by our children. We complete our tasks in order first thing in the morning but the projects are always stalled because of our chatty work colleagues.

There’s only one rule to remember during all these utterly maddening circumstances: We can’t change anyone but ourselves.

No matter how close we are it is not our responsibility to clean someone else’s closet of ‘excess,’ to intervene in their unhealthy eating habits, to make decisions regarding their ‘problematic’ relationships, or to force them into habits of cleanliness and organization that they clearly don’t need and will therefore never sustain over time.

The more we force others to become like us, the more we hurt our relationships. When you feel yourself upset because the other person is not like you in their actions or thoughts, stop and listen to the revolt within you. Which issue is the revolter complaining about this time? Listen and let them pour their heart out. Then take a deep breath and tell them: I can’t change anyone but myself!



Translated by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

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