I sometimes believe something but struggle to articulate it, and last night I just had a little epiphany sorting some of my jumbled thoughts out. One of the concepts that has changed how happy I feel now, compared to before, is summed up by the following idea:
We can't change anyone but ourselves.
We often waste a lot of energy waiting for people to change, or behave in a way that would make us happy.
"Oh I just want them to say thank you more"
"I only need them to clean up after themselves"
"If they're late all the time, I can't be important enough to them"
"I keep telling them, but they don't listen, and then complain I'm nagging"
"It should be easy....I only want them to...."
We postpone our feelings of happiness, waiting and expecting others to change their behaviours, yet usually they do not.
We are only able to change our response to these people, and change our explanations and reactions to their behaviours.
When I was a teacher, you quickly learnt that by giving attention to unwanted behaviours never lessened them. Shouting or nagging for children to behave doesn't work. The main switch for a successful teacher to make, is to ignore the unwanted behaviours, and focus instead on the wanted ones. It's actually pretty similar to dog training!
Catch the good. Whatever we attend to, we see more of. This feeds into another one of my favourite mantras; what we see is what we find.
If we want a different outcome, we need to do something differently. Letting go of the idea that we can control another person is pretty freeing. We do not carry the weight of saving someone, we are not responsible for changing someone's bad habits. We have the power to change ourselves, and that change ripples out, making waves in the rest of our lives too.