Prevailing thought is that you can never change someone and/or shouldn’t want someone you truly love to ever change. But let’s be real, shall we? Often times we would very much like for people to change. Maybe not necessarily for us, but, rather, because we think we know their life could be better. It’s got more potential! Haven’t we all experienced this in some capacity? Whether it be with best friends, coworkers, parents, brothers, sisters, neighbors, or loved ones.
And isn’t it THE most frustrating when it’s a loved one?
It’s always quizzical when people have a special skill or gift or purpose to help others, but, yet, often can’t help those they are closest with. Talk about irony, right?! I mean, it’s not uncommon to meet a nutritionist, for example, who comes from a family that wants nothing to do with learning how to eat better. So here you are, a nutritionist, helping hundreds of clients, but you can’t even help your very own family!
Today, I’d love to shed some light on some DON’TS when it comes to helping (i.e., positive change) those you love most. Insert whatever the issue is for you.
#1: Don’t be the authority.
9 times out of 10, people know what they need to work on. Right now, YOU know what you need to work on. Losing weight, anger management, budgeting your finances, or whatever it is for you. We might not want to admit it to ourselves, but I think the majority of us are self aware – to some degree.
Hence, when somebody comes along and wants to point that thing out to you… you feel exposed. And it makes you get defensive. It’s as if a spotlight is being shone on you and you’re thinking, “Yeah, thanks, I already know this about myself and I hope you know YOU’RE not perfect.”
People need to feel accepted in order to feel motivated to make change for themselves. And that is very different from being manipulated into making change.
Speaking of which…
#2: Don’t manipulate someone (to make change) by withholding something important to them.
Example: You want your man to help around the house, but he couldn’t care less. So, you take intimacy out of your relationship. Until he does the laundry, of course. Can we say, passive aggressive much?
#3: Don’t become obsessed with this thing.
Okay, let’s just say that you want to help your teenage daughter get off junk food. I mean, all that sugar and garbage is freakin’ poisoning her body! Not to mention, adding pounds to her frame she wasn’t meant to carry. And it’s killing you. You’re obsessing about this fact now. It’s on your mind 24/7.
You’re only going to see the negative! You’ll only notice her unhealthy choices.
I hear so many well meaning moms and, sometimes, dads, who say things, like: “I just don’t want you to end up heavier,” or, “I don’t want you to end up struggling with your weight all of your life like I have.” What your child hears is, “I struggle with my weight and therefore you will, too.”
Listen, they’re not you. They might have some of your genes, but they’re not you. And, by the way, how they live their life will determine how their genes are expressed.
You’re making it 10 times worse – because you’re telling them what to believe – even though you think you’re doing the opposite.
Again, stop obsessing.
#4: Don’t address this subject shortly after an incident.
Talk about bad timing!
A. You’re too emotional
B. It just happened
C. They’re not in the right frame of mind to receive any kind of feedback that might effect change
Picture it: Your spouse was out way later than promised and he clearly had too much to drink. Oh, and alcohol has been an ongoing issue, anyway. The morning after has arrived and he’s totally hungover. Guess what? Whether he shows it or not, he already knows he screwed up. It would be THE absolute worst time to bring up your (valid) frustrations.
#5: Don’t take it personally.
If your partner doesn’t want to take care of himself physically, or works too many hours, or battles addiction, etc., and you’ve asked him to change for YOU or the kids and he doesn’t… it’s very tempting to take it personally. Don’t. It’s never about you.
You’ve got to remember how significant and accepted this person needs to feel in order to make any change. And, ultimately, there’s usually something deeper at the root of their behavior. Educate yourself, learn, and – can’t repeat this often enough – don’t take it personally.
This blog just scratched the surface of my recent podcast, How to Help Someone You Love | Do’s & Don’ts for Getting Someone to Help Themselves – featured on The Chalene Show. On the podcast, I’m able to go into much greater detail with personal anecdotes that really flesh out all the DON’TS. But, even better and far more useful… you’ll find all the DO’S that balance out each of the 5 DON’TS! I mean, you know me, I would never leave you without a remedy to every possible scenario. Listen NOW!