Coach Shari: Change Happens
There are times in life when you just have to wait patiently for things to change. I realize this is a difficult lesson for us to learn (myself included), because we instinctively desire to control our universe as much as possible. We see a situation that needs to change, and we want change now! But what if it is someone else that needs to do the changing? How much control do we have over changing this situation?
My older son came home for the weekend to spend time with the family. We had company over for dinner, and he seemed to genuinely enjoy being with family and friends. He spent part of the day helping me in the kitchen, and after dinner he helped me clean up while we watched the Ohio State football game. During the game, my son’s cell phone rang, and I saw him receive numerous texts. He finally shared that he had a close friend that wanted to get together with him. He didn’t seem too eager to meet up with him, which was very out of character.
Let me explain. My son loves a good party and has never been one to say no to any invitation. He thrives on being with people and having a good time. When he came home from college his freshman year, he would be in our house for exactly 10 minutes before he started looking for someone with whom to hang out. He loves activity, excitement and socializing. This constant need has now and then stood in the way of of him successfully completing responsibilities. He is what we call a "party animal."
He turned to me on the couch and said, "I don’t know what’s wrong with me." He continued, "My good friend wants to get together with me, and I would like that, too. However, he wants me to join his friends that I don’t know and go to this bar they go to every week. I just want to spend some time with him and see what’s going on in his life. I don’t really want to get bombed with them and worry how I’m going to get home. On top of that, I don’t care about picking up women with them since I’m very happy in my relationship. It’s weird – I don’t know why the whole scenario doesn’t appeal to me."
My son didn’t end up going out but instead took the dog with him to bed. He seemed happy about this decision. The point in sharing the story is that I had worked so hard and for so long to try to get him to change. No matter how many talks we had and how much he recognized his behavior, things never changed. What a shocker! The need for me to change him caused many bad arguments between the two of us. On top of that, it caused me a lot of stress because I couldn’t control the situation. Finally, I reached a point where I decided to just let go.
This same scenario could easily play out with your own child, sister, husband or friend. Here’s the bottom line: people change when they are ready to change. We really can’t predict when that will be or what that will look like when it happens. It doesn’t matter how bad you want it to happen or how hard you work to make it happen: Only the individual can take the initiative to change his or her life. My advice is this: Let go, and realize that the only thing that you have control over is you and your own change.