Ever get really frustrated at the way others treat you? Or at how others behave, in general? Ever wanted to hold a huge, colorful sign in front of someone to declare how worthy you are of being loved and respected? Ever given your all to a conversation, only to find yourself exhausted, three steps behind where you started in the first place? Trying to change others and how they value you is exhausting.
And while it’s important, heck, essential, to make a clear statement of your worth as a human being, you can’t beat anyone into believing the same of you. You can guide others to change, but you cannot make the change for them, and even then, it has little to do with your actual efforts.
Your energy is better spent changing the opinion you have of yourself, than it is changing a person’s opinion of you.
Screams for change don’t work
Ever find yourself standing in front of your partner during a fight, screaming at the top of your lungs? “Why don’t you act like you love me anymore?!” or “Why do you keep thinking it’s ok to (fill in the blank)?!” You know the words are coming out of your mouth, and you know you’re screaming, yet nothing you say can shift the dead expression on your partner’s face. How frustrating is that?
Or let’s say you fall into a political debate on a friend’s FB thread with some random person you’ve never met. It starts with opposing views, but quickly escalates to loud typing, insults, and aggression. The person starts attacking your character, which you obviously can’t allow, so you start defending yourself and listing all the reasons you’re actually a great human being. Only, to your surprise, the fight doesn’t end with an acknowledgement of your awesomeness, it actually ends with more name calling, some threats, and a sign-off fit for a public teenage breakup. What a waste of 3 hours.
As much as we’d like for it to be true, you can’t just tell people you’re worthy and you can’t just force them to respect you; you have to show them. You have to lead by example so that others make their own decision to respect you. It doesn’t matter how big or colorful you make your sign, the bottom line is that the energy spent trying to change someone’s opinion of you is much better spent on you trying to change the opinion you have of yourself.
You’ll exhaust the resources, for nothing
But let’s say you ignore the instinct that your relationship is over, or that your time fighting online with a stranger would be much better spent outside enjoying the sun, staring at a brick. Let’s say you do dive into the screams. To what end?
Every day, you have a certain amount of hours at your disposal. You can spend the hour before work at the gym, or you can spend it pressing the snooze button; you can watch 2 episodes of NCIS or you can listen to 2 chapters on how to double your income. You have a choice.
And like what you do with your time, you have a choice with what to do with your energy.
You can either focus on your energy on trying to convince your partner you’re worthy of being loved, or you can focus that energy on learning to love yourself. You can either focus your energy on trying to convince someone to agree with you because you swear you’re smart, or you can focus that energy on educating yourself on a topic so you can engage in intelligent debate, rather than needing to rely on your personal accomplishments to prove a point. Exponentially more powerful, I suggest you do the latter on both accounts.
You can guide others to change, but you can’t do the work for them
Whether you’re trying to change how someone sees you or treats you, or trying to change a friend’s bad habit, you can only do so much and you need to know when to walk away.
We’re human. We care about others and, unfortunately all too often, we care about our egos. The most important and realistic question you could ask yourself is this: To what end and at what cost?
When will you decide you’re wasting too much time feeding your ego and seeking validation?
It may take you a while to figure out where to draw the line, but it’s important that you do. If your energy feels depleted and you feel like you’ve done all you could and you’re exhausted, then it’s time to take a break. If you’ve done your research, listed the facts, and behaved respectfully, then it’s time to walk away.
One of the most valuable lessons in life is realizing that you cannot change others, you can only lead them to change themselves.
That, and the fact that some people are just assholes and they have yet to learn to respect others. Your existence, though powerful in many other ways, isn’t going suddenly change that. Their behavior is a result of their own journey, trauma, and bad life decisions. Allowing your life to be affected by their shortcomings is like signing up to be a punching bag for their issues.
Every single day, you make a conscious choice on where to direct your energy. Invest, don’t waste.
Where do your vibes go?