Step 37 - How Can You Convince Someone To Change?
We all know this situation: someone is stuck with a wrong partner and you want them to finally end their nightmare, or someone is struggling with something (weight/ money problems/ family problems). You give them advice and… they just don’t listen. What can you do to convince them to change…? In fact, nothing. You can do absolutely nothing. And that’s the harsh truth. No matter how hard you try, how strong arguments you have, there is nothing you can do to change their opinion or behavior. They’re just not ready and you cannot make them ready by yourself. I’ve been there myself – I got great advice about my life situation and body that I wasn’t happy about and I just didn’t listen. It wasn’t because I thought the advice was stupid; it was simply because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to put the extra effort; I didn’t want to expose myself to something new, or – most importantly – I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone. And it’s the same with your friends or family. You can come up with great ideas, or even with an excellent, ready to use plan for them, but it won’t help. What you can do, then? You can still give them advice – if they ask for it – and move aside. Don’t push them, don’t try to convince them: just patiently wait. I’ve learnt that this is the best option.
But I also learnt one more thing – don’t let them ramble about the same thing over and over. You both know what’s wrong, you can listen to them once or twice. But if that person keeps coming back to the subject, not doing anything about that – you have to let it go and move aside. I’m not saying – stop talking to that person, but whenever they start talking about that again, just stop them saying that you guys went through that already and there is no point of talking about it again. Some of you would say that this is what friends do – they listen; yes, but I think what real friends do is tell you the truth, even if it’s painful. If your friends get offended because you expressed your feelings: I’m sorry, but you have to let it go. And if you are the one with a problem - don’t be selfish, because they’re your friends you shouldn’t waste their energy or time on something you’re not planning on changing in the first place.
Is there anything you can do? Yes: be an example and live according to the advice you give to others. It might inspire them to change, but this is all you can do. Forcing them to change their lives will give you a headache and it will probably turn them against you.
I love my friends, but I also care about myself and my brain hygiene. Going through the same problems over and over again is just wasting my energy and it is just making me worry about those things again. I’m your friend, and you can always count on me, but when I see that the common sense slips away in a big way – I’ll pass and patiently wait for it to get back on the right track. I’m this kind of friend who will not comfort you or tell you what you want to hear, because I simply believe that it’s not what good friends do. If you are a good friend, you’ll be honest and if the other side is a good friend – they would not get offended. This is my definition of friendship and I do have some friends who stick around with me for a while now so it may not be the worst method out there.
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