By Dr. Marta Adelsman
Life Coach in Communication and Consciousness
(July 19, 2013, 2013)
In my work with people who express challenges with their spouse or others close to them, I find that they often operate from a major myth. They believe that their partners or family members should be different than they actually are.
For a number of years after I was married, I had a lot of expectations of my husband, Steve. I felt that he should act in ways that I deemed important; that he should perceive things the way I did. When he didn’t meet my expectations in the ways that I wanted him to, I felt convinced that he should change.
The belief that others ought to change creates a great deal of suffering for the one who holds that belief. The suffering takes the form of frustration, anxiety and anger. It also can elicit controlling and manipulative behavior as the frustrated one attempts to force change.
This I know from experience. My attempts to alter Steve’s attitudes or behavior never worked. By trying to get him to change, I just created deeper turmoil for myself.
We aren’t usually encouraged to accept the idea that our spouse or partner should act exactly like he’s acting. Instead we keep rehearsing in our minds the story of what he said or what she did, thus keeping wounds alive inside us. Over and over again, we try to get the other person to see things according to our particular story so that we can be happy.
We don’t seem to realize that it’s not up to others to complete us or make us happy. Nor is it our job to do that for them.
Begin to open to this concept: that it is the job of the other person to see the world through the eyes and perceptions and beliefs that they have, not the ones you have. So the thought that your loved one should be different isn’t ever true. It’s never your partner’s job to perceive things like you do.
I understand that it can hurt when they don’t. Yet it’s important for you to grant others the freedom to be exactly as they are.
Allowing others to be who they are actually contributes to your growth. My frustrations with some of Steve’s attitudes and opinions about how our life should be led me to step up to the plate of responsibility in ways I might not otherwise have done. So today I’m grateful for those attitudes and opinions.
People don’t have to understand you or agree with you or do things the way you want them to. Give them the freedom not to. Let them be who they are.
Why? Because in freeing them to be who they are, you free yourself to live in your own authenticity.