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When others don’t change

Seeing folks around you stuck in patterns that don't serve life, can stimulate a bundle of frustration and grief. You'd really like for people to see what doesn't work and make the change sooner than later. You'd like both of you to be able to enjoy the results of living from greater awareness, wisdom, and compassion.

When you make a change for the better, it's easy for the should jackals to come in and say, "Hey, I made this change. They should be able to do it as well." It's easy to forget all the little things that you did and experienced that got you where you are now. It didn't happen overnight. It's painful to see people stuck in patterns and know there is an easier and better way.  You think to yourself, "If only s/he would change . . ."  

There are a couple of important things to remember here.  You can offer lots of empathy and honest expression and if you do so with the purpose of changing another s/he will sense that and invariably resist.  After the survival needs, autonomy is the first need people protect.  People change most easily when they are experiencing love and acceptance.

Your work then, isn't to change others.  It is to look into your heart and see if you want to connect even when they are not changing and regardless of whether they ever change or not.  Whether you choose to connect or not, your next step is to allow yourself to mourn the needs not met as this person stays stuck.  Just to let yourself feel the grief of seeing suffering without resisting the fact of your inability to change it for that person, this is the practice of staying connected to your heart.

Over the years this has been an intense practice for me with my family.  I get the opportunity to help so many people, but my family members aren't jumping up to receive help from me (at least not in the way I think they "should").  I have experienced so much grief and frustration wishing for their well-being and wanting them to change.  I just returned yesterday from visiting several family members in Colorado.  I got to experience the fruits of the practice of letting go of trying to change them.  My ability to stay present, enjoy them, enjoy myself, and feel an exchange of love was greater than it ever has been.  I came home nourished rather than exhausted as I have in the past.  I look forward to continuing to relax into more layers of acceptance and experiencing the richness this brings.

Take a moment now to reflect.  Is there anyone in your life you are trying to change?  Can you access the desire to connect even when they don't change?  Can you allow yourself to mourn in the face of the suffering of others?  Can you find your way to accepting their path and trusting something larger to guide them?

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6 Responses

  1. Aug 09, 2010
    Cathleen Straley

    I have two friendships that I want to "move on" from but
    I am so scared to be honest. Are there any gems about this? Thanks.

  2. Aug 11, 2010

    Sure, here's the link

    There is a part two of this article by the same title (You don't want to hurt their feelings Part 2)

  3. May 30, 2012
    maya luque williams

    Thanks LaShelle/Yoan for another beautiful enriching insight.
    love, loving,

  4. May 30, 2012
    Mary Raika

    Much appreciation for this, LaShelle. I have had a lot of guilt over the last year since I ended a friendship that wasn't working for me. In my case it wasn't about common interests, but about ways by which shame and guilt worked to eat away at the heart of the frienship. I still have some work to get through the hurt, but there has been a lot of healing already, and these ideas will help it along.

  5. May 31, 2012
    Chris DeSmit

    And I love hearing from you! I love your gems. They always come at the right time, and are so nourishing. This one hit home, as usual, and also reminded me to have patience and compassion with myself. I don't change as quickly and cleanly as I'd like either. And it's an interesting question: how badly do I want to continue to connect with the other even when they don't change? Sometimes I feel much guilt over that ~ that I cannot access that desire...

  6. Jun 11, 2012
    Rebekah Silverstein

    Hi, LaShelle

    I was not able to attend the rest of your seminar this weekend, due to some home relocation stress. I do feel like your talk would be beneficial for my relationships. I ran into some class mates on campus who had good words to speak about their experience over the weekend with NVC, Im wishing now more that I would have had more time to participate. Such is life... please keep me posted on upcoming talks you will be having. If you have sliding scale rates on couples talks, Galaxy and I may be interested in the experience.

    Thank you,

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