I can’t control anyone but myself. This has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt.
The thing is, we want to be able to control those around us. It might not seem that way – you may even feel a little disgusted at the thought – but really, we want other people to behave in ways that please us.
This can come in many forms. It might be as simple as other people being polite to us, or it might be more complex, like having the people we love, love us back.
But I have learnt one thing when it comes to others: people are pretty much going to do what they want.
Even if you really want someone to do something for you, to act a certain way, or feel a certain way – and you may even convince them to, for a little while – at the end of the day, people will do what they want. They might do what you want for a while, then resent you for it, then do what they want. But ultimately, you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do.
I have found so much more peace in my life by letting go of the need to control others, of wanting things to go a certain way. I put my trust in those closest to me and know that they won’t let me down and if they choose to do something that I disagree with or that upsets me, well, I can’t stop them. I can be upset for a while or annoyed, but I have to let go. Then I have a choice of whether or not I keep those people in my life.
We can’t change others – they can only change themselves. I certainly think it can be helpful to offer advice when appropriate but unless the other person agrees or chooses to take on board what you say (and it is really up to them whether they do or not) then that is all you can do.
What you can control are your own thoughts, words and actions. You can control who you spend your time around and what you do with your time. If you spend time around people who you wish were different, but you know they won’t change, then you can either choose to accept the way things are, or you can spend less time with them.
It is your choice, but all you can control is yourself.
In what ways (subtle or obvious) do you want to have some control over others, or want to change others?
How do you think your life might be different if you chose to accept others as they are without trying to change or control them?
Since you can only control you – what changes could you make to help you feel better about other people or relationships that aren’t as good as you’d like?
Note: this post was originally part of a series of 30 life lessons and journal prompts for my 30th birthday. You can access the rest of the lessons and prompts here.