Are you trying to help your partner or trying to change them?
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Are you trying to help your partner or change them?
Are you trying to help a loved one or just simply trying to change who they are? Let’s talk about it!
The first question to ask is about the intention: What is your intention behind wanting to shift this other person’s energy? When you are helping another, there is no direct benefit to you; you’re not doing it for a selfish reason; you’re asking the right questions to inspire and lead the other person into intrinsic motivation. When trying to change another person, we are attempting to manipulate and mold another person to fit our needs, it’s self-serving. Although the change your wanting to make in another person is possibly good for them, it may not be something they are intrinsically motivated in. They may not want to do what you are asking them to naturally.
Trying to change your other sometimes is accompanied by control and manipulation. It may not be consciously, but it’s happening because if your partner were a piece of clay, you would be molding them into a version that would fit your needs rather than allowing them to mold themselves. Whether you like them is typically determined by their ability to change and fit your needs. Trying to change another deals with asserting control over how they think. It’s a lot of "you shoulds" and "why don’t you." It doesn’t light their fire of motivation; it typically snuffs it out. Trying to change another person indicates that you are superior to them and know what’s better for their life than theirs. It gets kind of murky here because they may very well need to do the thing you suggest they do. Like they probably should take better care of their body if they are unhealthy. Or they should command more respect at work and go for that new promotion, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a hidden agenda behind this. You could tell yourself that you’re doing it for them, but it’s possible you’re possibly pushing them to be a better version to fit the ideal of a partner you have in your head.
Trying to change someone may be accompanied by criticism.
“Why don’t you work out more?”
“Why don’t you clean up more.”
“You’d be more respected at work if you do this.”
If you want to help, the way you speak to your loved ones wouldn’t be in the form of criticism, so that could be a clear indicator that you are trying to change and control them.
When we help and guide another person, we have their best interest at heart, and we are not judgmental or controlling on if they do what we suggest or not. We would continue to love them either way. Also, it’s much simpler to motivate or guide another person if they have given us the go-ahead to do so. Suppose they have asked for our advice. Many of us give unsolicited advice. When you see someone you love struggling, it can be challenging not to; you can most likely see where they are making some mistakes, and without them asking, you provide them with a way to get better. The issue is that they didn’t open the door to your advice, which means that they aren’t intrinsically motivated on their own to uplift their life.
I struggled with this as a healer and coach because I couldn’t recognize the difference between clients coming to me for help and my friends who just wanted to vent and be heard. The clients that come to me have done the work to find me; they looked up my information and made a choice that they want to do better for themselves. Therefore the intrinsic motivation is already they; they are even using the hard-earned resources to improve. They have me in the position of a coach. With friends and partners, they have not gone through that same path. So, I would find my coaching hat on when talking to my friends when all they wanted was someone to hear them out, not to be suggested on what they should do next. So, my question is, do you have your coaching hat on when your situation calls for you to listen and hold space without providing suggestions on how they should change?
It may happen at times that you have a great desire to help someone because you are convinced that what you have to say will be of great use to them. In a situation like that, take the time to share your desire with that person and ask if they would be willing to hear you. If they refuse or seem hesitant, don't insist. If you persist in offering lots of suggestions despite their response, it is because you want to CONTROL them. You want them to act according to your understanding of good and bad in this type of situation. It means you are not in touch with the other person's needs but instead with your own beliefs. You are trying to impose on them what you think would benefit you in that situation.
This is why it might be helpful to lean more into questioning rather than suggesting. Help them dive deeper and find their own answer rather than what you are telling them.
One way to tell if you are controlling another person instead of helping and guiding is to play out a scenario where you suggest they do something, and that person ignores your advice and does what they want. If you feel angry, annoyed, frustrated, or disappointed, it could be that you’re too attached to the outcome of what this person does, so that would indicate your desire to have some level of control over them rather than just allowing them to make their own choices and live their life.
Unfortunately, many of us believe that we are showing our love when we repeatedly tell others what and how they should act in certain circumstances and that they are showing us, love. They follow our advice. However, this is false. This type of love is conditional. If you do this, I will love you; if you don’t do this, I won’t love you. This type of conditional love is mainly based on fear. Fear of being alone or fear of not being able to be loved. It’s that same fear that is trying to mold the other person into what works for us so that we don’t have to be alone or take the risk of meeting new people or possibly letting them go and out of our lives. If we ask ourselves honest questions, can we accept this person in our life for precisely who they are without any changes, we can get to the bottom of whether they would be a person we should keep or let go of.
Trying to change someone could be surrounded by the fear of loss. Personally, I have lost quite a few loved ones. So, when I see my loved ones making choices that could lead them down a dark path, I am very much involved, trying to shift their idea about what they should do, and I am very vocal about that. I fear that if I don’t tell them what I think, they could end up like those I’ve lost in the past. The control comes from fear of losing people, as I did before. However, I can only suggest when asked, and when they do ask, I am dynamic in the way that I speak my truth. If you say it with conviction, you really only have to say it once. They heard you, and now it's up to them to decide what kind of life they want in the future. You’ve done your best, and now it’s time to let go and let god.
Some of us try to change people because we internalize their problems as our own, or it helps us feel safer when we can control their outcomes. This is classic codependent behavior. We hate having things out of our control. It reminds us of bad things that have happened in the past. And we get anxious and afraid of the catastrophic things we anticipate happening if we don’t step in and try to change things.
Accepting what’s out of our control and that we can’t solve other people's problems doesn’t mean were powerless. Quite the contrary, it allows us to put our energy into identifying what aspects of an issue we can solve, to change the things we can, and use that energy that we are showering others with and place it back onto ourselves.
Obviously, there are circumstances where your partner or loved one is putting themselves in constant danger. And they come to you to complain often but don’t make any changes. This may be a frustrating place for you to be in, but they are likely only asking for you to listen. They do not want to take your advice, or they would stop doing things that put them in danger. This puts you in a challenging position because constantly providing them with a listening ear or providing suggestions when they ask can put you into empathy fatigue. You can begin to care about their well-being more than they do, which would indicate the beginning of a co-dependent bond. If you find yourself in this position, don’t be afraid to take some space and care for yourself. It’s not your responsibility to save anybody. People have to protect themselves, and if their drama loop tires you out, don’t be afraid to place yourself first and set some boundaries. In this case, you may be trying to control the behavior of another because you can see a storm coming, and you wish more than anything to save this person from the pain and strife ahead. However, this is their lesson. It’s a lesson they need to learn for the soul to mature and grow. You can’t get in between a person’s lesson that god has sent to them, no matter how hard you try, no matter how badly you want to.
Solving other people’s problems often makes things worse, not better. Not only is it impossible to solve other people’s problems, we often open the door to more problems when we try to change a person who doesn’t want to. It would be great if we could wave our magic wands, and all of a sudden, our loved one would be happy and safe, but that’s not how it works. It usually comes off as telling them what to do in a bossy way, giving unwanted advice, and acting as if we have all the answers. Our efforts to actually try to help could backfire, and our loved ones could not feel safe talking to us anymore or feel judged. Just remember… whatever another person is going through.. this is the soul’s curriculum. You need not feel responsible for it. All of the choices this person has made have led them up to this point, or if they are dealing with something that’s out of their control, whatever they are learning will ultimately make them a stronger person.
To wrap up this video, I want to leave you with some questions that will help you decipher whether you are trying to change another person or help them.
Before launching into fix-it mode, try asking yourself these questions:
Is this my issue or problem, or is it someone else's problem that's affecting me?
Is this a problem I can fix or change?
Is changing this person or situation in my control?
How can I redefine the problem so that I'm focusing on what's in my control?
Do I have any influence?
Did they ask for my help or ideas?
Am I forcing my solutions and ideas onto someone?
Am I helping or enabling? What's the difference?
Why am I trying to solve this problem?
Is this actually an attempt to manage my own fears and anxiety about what may happen? And if so, how else can I deal with uncertainty and feeling out of control?
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