3 Proven Reasons Why Changing Other People Can be Disastrous

Things to Know When You Are Tempted to Force Change on Another Person

One of the great things about us is we’re all different. We’re unique individuals with different skills, talents, abilities, gifts, interests and passions.

Even though we know that to be true at some level, we still want or expect other people to act or behave like we do.

If we stop and reflect on our own behaviours, it’s amusing that we allow ourselves to get annoyed or frustrated when other people don’t behave as we expect them to.

Trying to change other people can be costly and it can also affect our emotional well-being. We’ve heard the saying that people resist change and change is difficult.

One valuable idea I learned many years ago was people don’t resist change. Instead, they resist being changed when it’s not their choice.

As human beings, our freedom to choose is one of the most valuable things we have, so when we feel that choice is being taken away, that’s when we are more likely to resist change.

How to deal with changing other people

I remember when I first started attending personal development seminars and training programs, I found what I was learning so valuable that I wanted “everybody” I knew to also learn what I was learning.

Every opportunity I got, I would advise others what they could do to improve in some area of their lives, whether they wanted to know or not. That obviously was not an intelligent strategy and if anything, it made others resentful of me and what I was learning.

With greater maturity came greater wisdom and now, even though personal development is the foundation of what I do, I prefer to share my learnings via articles like this or via my YouTube channel so that those who are interested in what I have to share will be inspired to make whatever changes they believe is necessary for them.

Change can happen in an instant. Often, it can be due to a significant emotional event such as an accident, losing a loved one, losing a job, or having a serious health issue.

One thing I have learned is that in any given moment, we don’t know what another person is going through. They are doing the best they can to cope with things that are happening in their lives, which is why it’s even more important that we recognise that people should be allowed to make the decision to change themselves.

Here are three reasons why it’s not intelligent to try and change others, and what we should do instead. Being able to control our emotions and behaviours can be extremely challenging, especially when we can see something blatantly obvious that another person should change, but for our own benefit, it’s important that we be respectful of others and their choices.

  1. It can be emotionally draining. Change is an emotional experience and it can cause us to get frustrated, resentful, or angry towards another person. The more we try to change someone else, the more emotional energy we will spend. What we should do instead is to change things we can and make it easier for the other person to reach their own conclusion that they need to change themselves as well.
  2. It means we are focusing on what we don’t like about another person. It’s said that what we don’t like or accept about another person is a reflection of things we don’t like or accept about ourselves. It’s very easy to identify what others are not doing well, but it takes effort to focus on what they are doing well. Instead of focusing on what another person is not doing well or what we don’t like about them, focus on what’s good about them.
  3. We may not have the necessary skills to facilitate the process of change. Change is a process and just like any process, there are steps to follow in order to do things right and avoid mistakes. If we don’t do things correctly, we will affect our relationships adversely. What we should do is be aware of the “Change Curve” and use it first ourselves when we are going through a change. That will prepare us to deal with others when they are going through change.

Change is a part of life however, it should not be something that we force upon others. The best way to change others is to be an example for others. If we’re being the best we can be, then we have a better chance of inspiring others to be the best they can as well.

Action Step: Reflect on something you really want to change in another person. Now decide on what you can change within yourself so that you can be an example for the other person. Remember, it’s their choice whether they want to change or not.

Question: What is another reason why it’s not a good idea to try to change others?

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