5 Reasons why you can’t change anyone
...and why you shouldn’t try
Q: I’ve been married for almost ten years and recently bettered myself by stopping smoking, exercising regularly, eating better, losing weight and generally taking better care of myself. My husband, on the other hand, hasn’t changed a bit. What can I do to change him?
A: Matilda, congratulations on making several big changes in your life; you seem to have found ways to make positive changes and be consistent with them. Based on your question, would it be fair to say you want your husband to be a different person than the man you married?
It is important to acknowledge that while we can influence another person, we cannot force them to change. Change comes from within, often due to either internal or external stressors. Typically, if most or all of our needs are met within a given lifestyle, there is little need for us to change. We are wired to seek a comfort zone, where we'll stay until we feel so much stress that we are compelled to change.
Your husband likely doesn’t feel enough stress to make any changes, so he stays consistent with his choices. He may be choosing negative behaviours to soothe other stressors he may be experiencing, at work or elsewhere. Here are some questions you can ask yourself and potentially ask your husband:
1. What are some of the potential outcomes if you continue to want your husband to change and he doesn’t?
2. What are some of the potential outcomes if your husband makes the changes you want him to make?
3. How will you feel if your husband makes even greater changes than you want him to make and then asks you to catch up to him?
4. What feelings might your husband be experiencing as a result of you asking him to change if he is happy as he is?
5. Has your husband seen a doctor lately? Depending on his age and physical profile, he may be at risk for some health issues and his doctor may provide the “external stress” for him to make some changes, which you can then support.
You will never change your husband, or anyone else for that matter. You can accept him as he is and support him in making even minor positive changes. Would it be possible, instead of expecting your husband to change, to go for a romantic walk on the weekend or take a vacation where you can do some easy kayaking or cycling? By cultivating the environment around your husband, he may enjoy it enough to make the changes himself.
Combining over 30 years in the field of self-development, Rod is the CEO of the Certified Coaches Federation, one of the largest coach education companies in the world, and a speaker, coach and author. For more information on the Certified Coaches Federation, visit www.certifiedcoachesfederation.com and for more information on Rod, visit www.indestructiblehuman.com.
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