Changing Others

“Just who do you think you are to tell God what to do?!?”

That’s the response I got from a spiritual counselor years ago when I was detailing to her all the ways my lover at the time needed to change to have the life he deserved. “What makes you think what he’s going through isn’t allowing him to grow in ways you can’t imagine?”

Dang. I just wanted her agreement to help me help him get off his butt and get a job. Sheesh! That’s when I coined this quote that has become well-known in my professional life:

You cannot have a relationship with someone’s potential.

If only my life didn’t reflect my inability to comprehend, apply, and appreciate those words over the years, particularly since I’m the one who said it. Most annoying!

“If only she’d stop drinking.”

“If only he’d stop smoking.”

“If only my kids would apply themselves.” If only …

If only we could let the people around us be who they are and love them unconditionally like we often say we do! Yes, yes, I know. You only want them to change or realize their potential because they will be happier, more productive and achieve greater fulfillment in life.


We may couch our need to change others with reasons such as I just mentioned. But more often than not we find the actions (or the lack of actions) of others, particularly those people closest to us, to be embarrassing, infuriating, or completely unacceptable to our better judgment. Well, ain’t that just too bad!

There’s also another egoistic benefit of deciding what others should do:  If we’re fixing others then our time is usually too occupied to take care of our own lives.

If we see someone about to be hit by a bus we should probably intervene. Just seems like the right thing to do, right? But if s/he wants to keep smoking, eat unhealthy, fattening food, or stay in a relationship that’s going nowhere, what business is it of ours? Here’s a thought:

Instead of trying to change others into what we think they should be, how about if we live the life WE were meant to live and be the example for others to consider for themselves?

It was a wise man who said people don’t want to hear a sermon. They want to see results. What if we stopped preaching to our loved ones and friends about how they should change? What if we were willing to have our own life show them what it means to be magnificent?

There’s wisdom in this quote:

Preach at all times.
Use words only when necessary.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Copyright © 2015, 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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