If anyone has ever had an addict, abuser, narcissist, or someone with mental illness in your lives, you may have asked, prayed, and cried over this question. If the person above is you, you may have asked, “How can I stop…?” Then, “How do I make them stop?” can be the question that follows trying to make the problem someone else’s. Either way, How do I make them stop, is a trap that weaves us into an unhealthy spiral. The answer is, we can’t change another person. We can only better ourselves so we stop making ourselves responsible for others and making them responsible for what is going on inside of us.
Is This Person Capable of Changing the Way I want them to?
Understand that the person may not be capable of helping himself/ herself without getting intensive support from trained professionals, and that can only happen if he/she is open and willing to receive it. No one can force another person to change. A person can’t get better for another person. I know his is a VERY hard pill to swallow. I’ve been down this road time and time again, and I stayed sick because of it. We can’t MAKE, threaten, or condemn a person to change for us. A person’s unhealthy patterns could have started from the moment they were brought into this world. The willpower a person has to have in order to change behavior and thought patterns that feel normal to their reality and survival isn’t easy. These thoughts and behaviors can be so imbedded that they have created neural pathways to support the unhealthy behaviors. It takes intensive work to change any neural pathways and when your thoughts are fighting to keep what feels normal alive, it is a very long and painful process.
How Easy Is it to Change What Isn’t Good for ME?
I want you to think about all the things you tell yourself you should do to live a healthier life:
- I need to exercise more.
- I need to eat better.
- I need to stop attaching myself to unhealthy people.
- I need to drink more water.
- I need to get out of my head.
- I need to spend more time with my family.
- I need to spend more time on self-care.
- I need to make time for meditation.
- I need to drink less.
Those are just a few examples. Can you instantly add/do everything that is good for you? Do you still choose to do things that aren’t benefitting your mental, spiritual, and physical health? Let’s just make sure we keep that in mind when we are expecting someone else to change. In order to make lifestyle changes, we have to fully commit. If any of us are struggling with ANY kind of low self-esteem, self-image, and/or self-worth, like I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, we will sabotage ourselves and our progress. Take time to imagine the person who is so imbedded in their unhealthy patterns, we don’t get that way if we are positive and healthy individuals. Healthy people who have a healthy self-concept, along with healthy patterns of thought and behavior, don’t hurt others or themselves intentionally. Most of us at one point or another let our own unhealthy patterns take control. If we are willing to look and take responsibility for our thoughts and behaviors, we have the power to get better. Some people with severe mental illness aren’t psychologically capable of taking responsibility and/or they don’t have the willpower it takes to make the changes we want to see in them at the moment we want to see them. If we are dealing with people in extreme cases, they may not be capable of making the changes we want to see. The best thing we can do for ourselves and them is not blame them for this, but make the necessary changes in our lives to put our self-care first. We are the ones we will live and die with.
How Am I Choosing to Live My Life?
If we are under the assumption that it will take someone else changing in order for us to be happy and healthy, we have our own work to do. We aren’t capable of rescuing someone else from his/ her own unhealthy patterns, but we are capable of rescuing ourselves. Just like them, we have to be willing and open to see and take responsibility for our own unhealthy thought and behavior patterns. Some of our own patterns have been imbedded since birth, so it can take some intensive work to see them. Just the expectation of someone else needing to change for us to be happy, is a thought pattern that we use to hurt ourselves. We put the power in their hands, just like they may be doing to us, when they use us as an excuse to behave like they are. We can’t make them act and think like they do, and we can’t make them responsible for thinking and acting like we do.
How am I (Rachael Wolff) Qualified to Talk About This?
People who know the dark place I was in ask me how I got better, and the answer is that I invested in myself. I fixed the one person that I could. I’m not a do as I say, not as I do kind of person. I’ve spent thirty years working on breaking my unhealthy patterns. I’ve gone down some long treacherous rabbit holes in search of feeling lovable and happy and I came out on the other side of my own darkness. I write about how I got myself out of toxic situations, how my education in psychology, human development, sociology, and cultural anthropology have assisted me in being able to put my experiences down on paper in away that can assist others on their paths. I’ve tried and failed at so many attempts to change myself and others, until after a myriad of lessons, I found the path that changed my life—The path to me. I’ve had plenty of help along the way.
The Path of Self-Discovery
When we stop asking and praying for the answer to “How do I change them?” and start asking, “How do I become the best version of me?”— We gain the power to transform our lives.
We get sent sign after sign of ways to better ourselves. How do I know this will happen? How do I know that this works? Because it’s the path I took and still take daily. Here are just a few of the AMAZING benefits of taking the path of self-discovery:
- I learned to say, NO, without needing to apologize for it.
- I’ve established healthy boundaries with unhealthy individuals.
- I’ve learned how to assess when and how long to stay in relationships and situations in order to learn what I need to learn.
- I’ve learned that the people who wander onto my path are supposed to teach me something or learn something from me.
- I found my authentic joy in nature.
- I’ve found what grounds me, inspires me, and lifts my spirits.
- I’ve learned how to live connected to Divine love.
- I learned that the only person that NEEDS to love me—Is me!
Do I Want to Help or Enable?
You are free to keep asking questions like:
- How do I make them stop?
- How do I make them happy?
It took me at least fifteen years on the path to begin to stop going to these questions, because they were my autopilot response to other people’s unhealthy choices. I can still slip into asking myself these questions when it comes to my kids. From time to time, when I see them suffering from things out of my control, it hurts and I want to make it better. It’s still not the right questions. What I learned is the best thing we can do for anyone else is to be our best selves, so that is what we project onto others. Our positive energy that we exude may be what helps them to make better choices for themselves. It’s not about preaching or telling them what they aren’t doing right. We simply show them what it looks like to make positive choices for ourselves. I’m amazed how quickly someone who is trapped in their own unhealthy patterns can spot us in ours. The opposite is true too. When we are healthy and another person is trapped in their own darkness, they will either be attracted to us because they are seeking to change, or they will feel a force driving them away from us because they don’t want to or are not capable of making healthy changes in that moment. I’ve talked about this before in previous posts.
When we do things for the wrong reasons, we will start enabling instead of really helping someone else be responsible and accountable if they are capable of doing so. Most us are capable and are just stuck in unhealthy patterns. We can’t make anyone else feel, think, or do anything. How they respond to us is based on the messages that are swirling around in their heads. What we can change is what is swirling around in ours.
Self-Discovery Is Not a Quick Fix
Self-discovery is not the easy path. There is no pill or quick fix on this path that will help us. We have to be willing to dive deep. We can’t hide from ourselves if we want to discover how to heal ourselves. We can’t numb our guilt and shame. We have to face it and heal from it. The path of self-discovery is worth the challenges we will face. One of the greatest rewards is we question our thinking when we ask the unanswerable questions and start getting solutions from a healthy place. We gain the power to stop the unhealthy thought and behavior patterns as we make better choices.
With Love and Gratitude,
Rachael Wolff ©2019
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