Why You Cannot Change Someone, But Only Lead by Example.

Why is it that we, time and time again, try to change the people we love? When has trying to fix something in someone else ever worked the way we hoped or even been a positive thing in our relationships?

“The problem is, no one likes to be preached to or being told what to do. As soon as we’re told we ‘should’ do something, our inner toddler stamps her foot, digs in her heels, and walks staunchly in the opposite direction.” – Mastering Your Mean Girl

To be honest, I’ve had plenty of situations in my life, where I’ve tried – both with love and sometimes out of frustration – to change someone or at least notch them in, what I believed was, the right direction… But, my intentions have always fallen on either deaf ears or were met by “I know, but…” or by frustration and resistance.

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Let me fix you!

When we feel like we have the knowledge and the solution, we so badly want to pass that information along to our loved ones – our partners, parents and friends – but often we’re only left with the feeling of “hitting our head against a brick wall” trying to help them or “fix” them.

It’s only normal to want to try and help the people around us. But as we all know by now, this usually has the complete opposite effect than what we were going for.

We end up exhausting ourselves, and even worse; we often end up alienating the people we love, in the process.

So, what I find to be the biggest challenge about stepping in when someone seems to need my help, is to know how and when to offer my help. I don’t want to force my help or knowledge on someone and risk pushing them away… I want to find the middle ground.

I want to help, but I don’t want to push!

“We have to take a different approach. One where softness replaces sternness, where “walking our walk” is more important than “talking our talk,” and where we lead with our hearts, not our heads.”

According to coach and writer, Melissa Ambrosini; there are three things we need to realize when it comes to helping or trying to “fix” the people we love or care about.

#1 Be the example

We as people like to follow and be inspired and we hate being lectured and told what to do.

We are a million times more likely to change or improve when we feel inspired by the potential outcome, so why not be the example… show – through your own actions – what is possible and walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk.

The best way to inspire someone is by being the living, breathing example.

We CANNOT change or save another person… We can only save or change ourselves. Sure, we can inspire through our own action, but we can’t save. Any attempt will surely fall on deaf ears.

#2 Let them know that you are one hundred percent there for them

Whether you’re dealing with someone who just has an annoying habit, a certain behavioral problem or with someone who might be going through a hard time… one thing you can do, is to simply let them know that you are there for them and that you are ready to help when help is needed.

Don’t push for change, but be patient and present in their life. When they are ready for your help, they will let you know.

#3 Stay soft

It can be heart wrenching and sometimes extremely hard to watch someone suffer or go down a wrong path, but the last thing they need to hear is a nagging lecture or a “good advice.”

Try to stay soft, stay centered in your heart… If you do so, your loved one is much more likely to turn to you when he or she is ready to change.

I found these 3 guidelines to be reassuring and somewhat eye-opening… For so long I’ve tried – without much success – to push the people I love in the direction I believed was right, when I saw that they needed help.

I want to adopt this approach instead…

I like the thought of taking a step back and leading with example instead… This way I not only get to, hopefully, be a more loving friend, daughter and partner to people in my life, I’m also left with more energy and time to improve on my own actions and life… energy that I would otherwise waste on trying to fix someone else.

Use your energy to improve on your own life, and then try to lead by example.

What do you think of this 3-layered approach? Is it something you already use in your life or is it a completely new concept to you?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation.

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