Can I Make You Change?

I frequently hear people say that we can’t make other people change. Objectively speaking, when push comes to shove, we certainly cannot force another person to change. If we could, we would have everything we wanted and that would probably not be good for us or the other person in the long run. It is within the individual to decide to change. But, do we sometimes use this concept as an excuse not to do everything in our power to help facilitate change in another person?

We Are External Factors in the Lives and Choices of Others

We make our own choices about what we think and how we behave. However, we do not live in a vacuum. We make choices according to what we value. We learn some of our values from reading, observing, listening, and interacting with others. Individual choices are influenced by both internal and external factors. We listen to and observe news media, sports announcers, parents and family, pastors and preachers, friends, and even strangers. We process the information we receive and decide whether to accept or reject it. We are all affected by the good and bad we observe and experience. And each of us, at times, is also influential an external factor in the lives of others.

Be a Facilitator of Change

We can try to help facilitate change in others in many ways. Remember to start slow and then grow. Here are some suggestions:

  • Communicate effectively and charitably.
  • Listen actively, show empathy, and respond—don’t react out of emotion.
  • Be a good example by changing yourself in positive and healthy ways.
  • Share your hopes and dreams.
  • Focus on the other’s positive behaviors and show appreciation for them.
  • Draw healthy and consistent boundaries.

Do you want to facilitate or control change?

Facilitating change in others is an invitation for them to change, not a control move. Ultimately, an individual is responsible for his or her own changes. But what if you could be a loving catalyst to that change? Would it be worth the exploration?

If you think it would be worth exploring how you can help and you would like to work with someone on learning those skills, please contact us at the Marriage Recovery Center where someone is waiting to help you get started on this endeavor.