One evening last week, I was feeding the cats outside our apartment complex as usual and a woman on her evening stroll stopped by.
We got to talking. During the course of the conversation, she started opening up and described the difficult times she was going through.
She was recuperating from cancer and was looking for peace and quiet in her home. She shared that she had no strength to fight back against her quarrelsome husband, who had frequent fits of anger that upset the peace, causing consternation to her and their adult daughter.
The resilient lady had figured out quite a few things about her life and the situation she was in, but some questions still bothered her. For example, she asked, “How can I ensure that my husband changes?”
With all my love and compassion, I could only answer with this question, “Can you really change anyone?” She nodded in understanding.
Here’s what most of us set out to do in our innocent ignorance: change the other. This causes a lot of energy consumption for an exercise that is simply futile. Well, just for the sake of engaging with the question to unravel it in its full light:
“What if you are unable to change the person the way you want to? (How does that feel?)
“Do you have step-by-step clarity to guide the change?” (Are you willing to take that responsibility?)
“Do you have vision to that perfection?” “What if that vision is upended by circumstances beyond your control?” “Have you got a backup plan worked out?”
The questions can become at once, ridiculous and piercing. Do you see who bears the pain here in the ‘wish of change’? And who is burdened with the responsibility?
Instead of wasting energy in trying to change the other person, why not invest the energy in self? Won’t that be more rewarding? Actually, changing oneself is the most difficult task. No wonder, we are forever ready to deploy that power of ours (the ability to change) to others.
“How would you like if somebody wanted to change YOU?” “Would you like someone to change YOU without your permission? Most likely the answer is no. The same applies to the other person too.
Our responsibility lies to ourselves. And this involves self-work about which I have written a lot in my columns. We have often heard: ‘When you change, things around you change.’ ‘Or be the change you want to see.’
How does this life principle work? Well, one can only know if one experiments. There is no other way. It can’t be figured out with intellectual discourse, no matter how shredded the discourse is. Or who says it.
One can argue: “I am a kind person by nature.”, “I am forgiving by nature.” And so on. Those are good traits, sure, but in that narration of kindness, check if you are becoming weak? In forgiveness, check if you feel powerless? Or victimised?
Only you can answer these in full honesty. With all good traits intact, one ought to live in freedom and peace too. Why does change have to carry the connotation of: moving from ‘bad’ to ‘good’? Change simply is, for living in fullness.
When a shift happens inside, the outside environment also changes. Only this time, the principle of’ ‘like attracts like’ is activated in its beauty and bloom, shedding the gloom. Be ready for the change, new adjustments in life, without fear or judgement.