Here’s something I was asked recently, “how can you change people?”

In short, you can’t.

I learned this lesson the hard way after years of trying to help (a.k.a. “change”) people I cared about. I wanted to change their attitude, behavior, and quality of life. But the cold, hard truth is you can’t change people. They have to want to change.

This realization can be a tough pill to swallow, especially when we care deeply about the person.

So, what does this mean for us? It means that we have to make some tough decisions. We need to assess whether we can accept these individuals as they are, in our personal lives or professional environments, while they are on their own journey of self-realization. This isn’t about giving up on people or cutting ties at the first sign of difficulty. It’s about understanding and accepting our limitations in influencing others’ deep-seated behaviors and traits.

In some cases, this might mean setting boundaries to protect our well-being and peace of mind. 

In others, it could involve offering support and understanding without the expectation of change. And sometimes, it might mean making the difficult decision to distance ourselves, especially if their behavior is harmful or toxic.

The bottom line is while we can offer support, understanding, and guidance, we cannot change someone who is not ready or willing to change themselves. This understanding doesn’t make our interactions with difficult people any easier, but it does offer a clearer perspective on how to approach these relationships so you don’t invest a lot of emotional energy into something you don’t control.


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