“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu
Kindness, generosity, compassion, patience, trust, loyalty and honesty all make for a good relationship. But what if the person you extend these forms of love to doesn’t reciprocate? Not just on the odd occasion but consistently using or abusing your friendship or love whilst making you feel you are at fault? Then it’s time for change.
“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” Brené Brown
In the past I have been caught up in relationships that were simply no good for me. On reflection I can see how I was willing to put up with being let-down and mistreated because I didn’t believe I deserved any better.
Anyone who has been involved in an abusive partnership knows how difficult it is to think clearly within an oppressive environment. It starts with comments and actions that undermine you. If you have self-confidence then you are able to deal with these incidences appropriately. But if you’re feeling vulnerable or depressed as I often did then the doubt is set in your mind and so begins the downward cycle.
“Tolerating isn’t loving and existing isn’t living.” The Hurt Healer
Whether it’s a perpetrator of physical abuse or an emotionally abusive narcissist, the longer you remain in their company, the harder it is to break free. And from my own experience I know how dangerous that can be. The longer I stayed the more I enabled the other person to carry on belittling me and making me believe that I was always at fault. Which in turn confirmed my uselessness as a human being.
In reality I grew used to simply managing the difficulties and being grateful for any sign of approval. I gave my all but it was never enough. Eventually I decided I no longer wanted to tolerate or be tolerated. I wanted to love and be loved. Neither did I want to exist in a world of uncertainty and fear. I wanted to be free to live my life as the person I was meant to be.
“How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.” Wayne Dyer
Then I grasped a truth that became a defining point in my life. That truth was I didn’t have to allow someone else’s words or actions determine how I was going to feel. By reacting to someone else’s moods and difficult behaviour I was not just enabling them to continue abusing, I was also preventing myself from taking responsibility for my own feelings.
Perhaps you are also battling with a relationship that is draining you physically and emotionally? Then make a decision today to leave behind the victim mentality. Get ready to tell yourself, “It’s time for me to change.”
Note the ownership of change. You don’t have the power or indeed the right to try to transform anyone else. It doesn’t matter who it is; abuser or lover, family member or friend. If that person doesn’t want to acknowledge or make amends for something they’ve said or done, there is no point wasting your time and energy trying to convince them otherwise. Meaningful change only comes when a person genuinely wishes to make a difference in their lives. Using force or manipulation will only result in resentment. So the bad news is, the only person you can change is you.
Which means the good news is, the only person you can change is you.
“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
Even though you may not be able to make any difference to your circumstances or feel powerless to impact a situation, you can change how you respond to it. You can and should choose to take responsibility for your own life. For myself, I knew this was never going to be simple or pain-free. Yet I also knew it was time. Time to accept my failures, time to let go of the past and time to forgive and be forgiven.
Most of all I concentrated on what I could do, rather than all that I couldn’t. I kept an attitude of gratitude for everything I had, not what I lacked. And I refused to allow the challenges of my past steal my hope for the future.
Mahatma Ghandi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I came to realise that I had to be the change I wished to see in my world.
What about you? Is it time to change?