Ever find yourself getting upset, angry, or frustrated by other people’s thoughts and behaviors? If you answered “yes” then…guess you’re alone on that one because no one else in this world does. Good luck in dealing with that. End of the post.
JUST KIDDING! I AND THE REST OF HUMANITY ARE RIGHT THERE WITH YOU.
It is impossible to not notice the actions of others around you (friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, strangers online…) and it makes it highly difficult to separate those actions from yourself when those behaviors trigger you. I mean I even get annoyed of people’s behaviors that I don’t even know! Just seeing certain things online or hearing about a friend’s friend I cringe over certain actions and so desperately want to get ahold of their lives and whip them into shape!
But. That’s not how life works.
The fact is, you only have control over YOUR thoughts, YOUR behaviors and YOUR emotions.
This concept has been drilled into us since an early age (but that doesn’t mean we know how to appropriately integrate it into our adult lives). Personally, I was told over and over by my parents that “they are looking for a reaction, if you just don’t react, they’ll stop picking on you”. But let’s be serious what 8-year-old (or 28-year-old) understands that logic and has the self-control to put that into action!?
Another thing that is so highly connected to this idea is that we can influence others behaviors, thoughts and emotions based off your responses and reactions. This concept is something I did not catch onto until I was a young adult and is honestly something I still have to learn over and over again. I have to continuously hold myself accountable and remind myself to focus on me and not the actions of others.
Some tips that have helped me remember this are:
Tip 1: Making changes in your own life helps give you perspective on the people around you.
When you come to terms with the very inconvenient truth that you cannot change others you can then explore how you feel about other people that you allow in your life. Is this someone that you need in your life? That benefits your life? That is in your life because you’ve known them for so long? Or because they have a lot of money? Or because they have a powerful holding over you? When you start to expect more from yourself, you start expecting more from the others in your life.
This takes time and won’t happen overnight. But I have seen through my personal path to wellness and with my clients that personal progress leads to heightened levels of confidence that creates more rewarding relationships. Simple fact is, when you get to know yourself better, you will get better at deciding who you should trust and surround yourself with.
Tip 2: Moving forward in your own growth demonstrates to others that change is possible.
New hope and curiosity can be sparked in those around you when they see the hard work and time you are putting into your emotional needs. From my experience and with the clients I have witnessed change in, it usually inspires other to do the same. This is no guarantee, so don’t come back to me when your partner doesn’t change their behaviors after you’ve spent months putting in the work on your end. Your motivation to move forward on your path to personal growth should not be fueled by wanting other people to change (and if it is then check yourself, because changes made for others are usually short lived).
Tip 3: You must be compassionate with yourself and be realistic in your expectations for yourself.
Be patient with yourself. Remember that this is a marathon, not a race. You have lived a certain way for decades, and it is going to take more than reading one blog (or several blogs) to make those changes set in for real. Suggestion during this time is to start small and honor the moments when you achieve one of your baby goals. Maybe its setting an appropriate boundary (and sticking with it). Possibly with your friend that you will not lend them money each month anymore, or maybe with your mom that you don’t need to tell her every little thing that happened throughout the day but that you’ll update each other on a weekly phone call.
Major take away:
Though other people might not be ready for change (and cannot be forced to change), and they may be more comfortable if you would just stay the same way you are now (to make themselves feel more comfortable with not changing). You’ve got to focus on yourself and get on the path to wellness and it is there that you will inspire yourself, honor the counseling process and maybe even encourage others on the path.
Written by: Shannon Gonter, LPCC, NCC
I specialize in working with men and young adults. I am passionate about my career and want to work with you to create positive change. I also strive to create a counseling environment where men and young adults can relate, feel heard, and find new solutions to their negative patterns. Some issues that I most commonly work with are stress, relationship issues, difficulty saying “no” to others, difficulties recognizing emotions and emotionally connecting to others, anger, and intimacy issues, among others.