Too often we find ourselves attempting to create our individual idea of the perfect person. As humans who can be a bit self-righteous at times, we tend to believe that we always have the right answers, the smartest method, or the right ideology. But in the words of brotha Kanye, “You ain’t got the answers, Sway!” There’s nothing wrong with having our own beliefs, preferences, routines, and ways of thinking. It’s what makes us unique and as different as fingerprints. But when we try to impart or force our way of living onto others and change who they fundamentally are, it can become an issue. This is often what leads to unhealthy relationships between partners, family, friends, and even professional colleagues in some cases.
As someone who has a hard time relinquishing control of things sometimes, it has taken me years to come to the understanding that you cannot change a person into the being that you think he or she should be. Despite how beneficial you feel your changes could be to someone’s life, it’s neither your right nor your place to impose on someone else’s way of life, and it’s truly unfair to someone who did not ask to be critiqued. When we attempt to change others, we are displaying two main things:
- An internal fear of having no control.
- An expression to someone that his or her values are not respected.
There’s nothing wrong with offering helpful suggestions to others that may benefit them or make life a bit easier. And if you inspire someone to change certain aspects of who he or she is by virtue of being who you are, that is completely that person’s decision. You can make suggestions to others for improvement, and that person may use that as an opportunity for growth and change. Obviously if someone is committing actions that are dangerous or detrimental to his-/herself or others, this may require a different level of intervention (or professional assistance depending on the severity). But we have to remember that everyone reserves the right to make their own decisions, whether we agree or not. We can only accept the ones we care about as they are, and if our opinions differ too greatly to coexist, then it may be best to separate. Otherwise this can signal to others that they are not enough to us as they are. And if you do somehow succeed in forcibly changing someone to fit your desires and not their own, that person may develop feelings of resentment, lost identity, and being misunderstood.
At the end of the day, the only thing we can control is ourselves and our reactions to the world around us. We should strive to be mature enough to take constructive criticism as opportunities to better ourselves and be the best version of ourselves. It’s never wrong to care for your loved ones and desire the very best for them. A part of that means acknowledging and accepting their individuality and ability to think for themselves. We are all beautiful individuals with unique and vastly different minds. And so long as our actions are not hurting others, we all deserve respect in that way.