We hope that even though people repeatedly show us who they are, maybe we’re mistaken.
We hope that their ill-mannered behavior was reserved for others and not for us.
We desperately want to believe that they will change for us. We want to believe that our relationship and love are strong enough to persuade them to change their lives.
We are constantly surprised when they show us exactly who they are. Our minds will not let go of the fantasy of the person we imagined. We won’t let go because we can’t bear the thought of another loss. It makes us feel as if we’ve failed in some strange way. It leads us to believe that we are inadequate because they will not change for us. So we cry, beg, over-give, over-love, and lash out in anger, hoping that any behavior will catch their attention.
You are not unlovable or unworthy because you could not persuade someone to change for you. Bringing about change requires hard work and a level of awareness that will bruise any ego. It takes courage and perseverance to bring about change. Creating change requires grieving our past lives.
It is not enough to command someone to change. Their spirit must be irrevocably shaken to the core. As a result, they seek more understanding on their own.
You will spend countless years ripping your heart apart, bleeding, waiting for someone to change. You cannot pause your life while you are waiting. You cannot hold your breath, or you will collapse and lose consciousness of who you are. Change is ambiguous. Someone may have a near-death experience and decide to change their ways almost immediately. Another person will attempt to change over the course of twenty, thirty, or fifty years. Another person won’t give a damn and will never change. You cannot predict how long a person’s change will take.
It’s time to stop being surprised when people show you who they are. We cannot pretend to be who we’re not for very long. We cannot go on hiding our innate nature. It’s time to stop getting upset when people behave in ways they’ve already shown you. It’s time to stop shuddering with disbelief when people slip back into their old habits. It’s time to let go of the resentment and upset. Not everyone means to hurt you. Some people cannot help themselves.
Instead, we must bring to awareness the ways that we might be wrong. We must challenge our beliefs and ask ourselves why it’s so important to us that someone else becomes the person we need them to be.
The most reasonable action you can take is to accept people as they are. Yes, you can hope for and occasionally reference better ways of behaving, but please do not destroy your mind and health trying to change people.
Focus your energy on examining your depth of awareness and your character blind spots. Focus on areas where you might have been wrong. Focus on the times you reacted out of fear and made decisions you weren’t proud of. Your reflection is not meant to be self-deprecating, full of judgment, or an attempt to categorize yourself as a failure. No. Looking at yourself is liberating. It’s exactly what you wished the other people in your life would do for you.
We create change when we accept all parts of ourselves instead of trying to deny that our less than desirable character traits exist. When we can better see who we are, we can make conscious choices instead of blindly reacting.
To change, you must first recognize the need for it. You must be open to the possibility that you’re not seeing yourself clearly. You must decide to commit to long-term change. You cannot do this for someone else, only yourself. Do not take it personally when someone cannot and will not change for you. They do not believe that anything is wrong.
I hope you find peace and let go of your desire to control the outcome. I hope you continue to prioritize your awareness and healing. I hope you realize that your ability to inspire change in others is not indicative of low worth. When people revert to old habits, I hope I can say, “Yes, I expected that.” It’s time to stop being surprised when people repeatedly show you who they are. It’s time to stop spending so much of your energy trying to change people.


Arlene Ambrose