We all have someone in our lives that we love so much, but they literally drive us crazy! Well, that’s the natural tug and pull of any relationship! We often struggle in relationships with the people we love and care about most because those relationships are important to us. We want the best for them. While we often say things like “I wish this person would change or behave differently,” or “I wish this person would come to their senses,” what we really mean is that we want this person we love and care about to be happier, for our relationship to improve, and for this person to live to their full potential. And after all, anything worth having is worth fighting for… So how do you change another individual’s behaviors, actions, or beliefs?
I think we all know that you yourself cannot change someone. However, you can certainly create an environment where change is possible! This means creating an environment where that person feels loved and supported and wants to improve his or her own life. Let me share with you some very important principles for creating the perfect environment for the person you love to change and improve their lives… because it’s something THEY want to do.
5 Principles to Create Change
#1 – Understand that YOUR “why” is not important enough.
Your “why” – the reason you want this person to change – is not important enough to make them change their behavior. Just because you want someone to stop drinking, find a job, or do whatever it is you want them to do, it’s not important enough. It has to be THEIR reason. So, how do you figure out their reason? Listen, pay attention, and ask the right questions. Their “why” is right below the surface. If you’re too consumed with your reason why they should change, you’ll never hear theirs. Helping this person discover their own reasons to change is step one.
If you try to force someone to eat healthy, exercise, get a job, or stop an addictive behavior, the backlash you experience is not a result of fear of change… it’s a fear of giving up control. The more a person feels in control of his or her own decisions, the more likely you are to succeed in creating an environment for change.
#3 – Timing is everything.
It’s a natural instinct to want to attack another person’s behavior or views when you’re angry. When you’re heated, that’s when you want to go head-to-head, toe-to-toe and get whatever is on your chest OFF your chest. But know that times like this are the absolute worst time to inspire change. We are most open to change when we feel loved, supported, calm, and accepted… and we feel none of these things when we’re in a heated argument or a tense situation. So as odd and as unlikely as it might seem, the best time to dive into deep conversation is when things are going well. Instead of rocking the boat, you’re actually setting yourself up for an effective conversation because both parties are feeling calm and secure. The best time to create an environment for change is when things are going well, so always consider your timing.
#4 – Everybody wants to be accepted.
Everyone wants to be who they are, NOT who you want them to be. The ultimate way to make another person feel as though they have the love, support, and acceptance they need to make positive changes is to let them know you love them the way they are. Consider putting it this way: “I love you as you are. This is just about having a better relationship and you creating the life YOU want. I’m here to support you as you take responsibility for your part.”
#5 – We all engage in negative behaviors because they serve us in some way.
Yes, even YOU engage in negative behaviors… we all do, because in some way or another, they serve us. What are you doing to reward your loved one’s negative behavior? Are you giving that person control, giving them attention because of the drama they’re creating, providing a scapegoat? Think about the negative behavior and how it serves this person. The more you understand the motivation behind that negative behavior, the more likely you are to be empathetic and understand how to create an environment where that person feels safe, in control, and able to create the change they deserve.
Again, remember: anything worth having is worth fighting for. If you want someone to make changes, and you love and care about this person enough, you will take the right steps to create an environment for change that is their decision and change is made on their terms.