Posts Tagged ‘changing people’

This is neither an original thought nor a magic spell – but I think it might be a good way to go to minimise the kind of suffering we are liable to inflict on ourselves, so I’m writing a reminder to myself.

My seven keys to happiness:

  • Accept others as they are.
  • Accept yourself as you are.
  • Accept what other people give you graciously and don’t require or expect them to give you more than they are able or willing to give.
  • Accept you’re unlikely to change any other person, their behaviour or their priorities.
  • Adjust your exposure to other people individually depending on how much of them and their behaviour you can deal with.
  • Don’t take things personally – you are not the centre of other people’s universes and their behaviour may not have anything to do with you.
  • Don’t attach too much importance to anything – everything will pass.

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This is about relationships in the wider sense, not just life partners but also friends and family, colleagues, acquaintances, the lot.

No one relationship is going to give you everything you want whenever you want it or need it. That’s not to say you have to have multiples of each kind of relationship you have; it just means you have to accept the relationships you have for what they are and the people with whom you have them for who they are. It means accepting that in the main you can’t change people – in fact, you can hardly ever change them. The only thing you can really change is you and your attitudes and behaviour. It also means accepting that other people in your life are like planets in your galaxy, and you are just one planet in theirs. Sometimes you’ll be the main planet, sometimes you won’t. They will often have other things going on in their lives that don’t necessarily include you. So judge less and accept more when it comes to assessing people and how their words and behaviour affect you.

Don’t keep dysfunctional people or people who are bad for you and make you unhappy in your life, and if you must let them stay, perhaps as distant planets, make sure you don’t give them power to hurt you. If you are going to have people in your life, take them as you find them. Don’t demand more from them than they are capable of giving you. The reason for this is that you’re not going to get more than they can give you, and there is more pain involved in requiring it and not getting it than in not expecting it in the first place. A wise person once talked about the futility of looking for your keys under the lamppost if that wasn’t where you lost them, just because that is where the light is …

So when you need emotional support, understanding, an interested ear, whatever, at a particular time, look to get it from someone in your galaxy who is in a position to be able to provide it at the time you need it. Don’t expect every relationship to be two-way all the time or at the same time. Sometimes you’ll get the support you’re seeking from one person, and won’t be able to give support to them when they need it, but maybe someone else will. Think of it as a variation on Kahlil Gibran’s point about ‘giving unto the pool …’: give to the pool when you can and when it’s needed, and expect to take from the pool, i.e. from someone who is in a position to give to you, when you need it.

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