Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Lessons Did You Learn in 2013?

What lessons did the year 2013 bring for me?

I've been thinking hard about this since the new year began and it's only now that I can put it  into words. It's said that you cannot change anyone else and at some level, most of us know that it is true. Still, it doesn't stop many of us from trying to change others to what we want them to be.   We may do it with our partners, our children and even our parents. Heck, even our pets are cajoled and scolded until they are trained to how we think they should be!

I think that when we feel the need to change someone, it's coming from our deepest insecure fearful selves. We are  trying to change the things about them that scare us because they are actually a reflection of things we ourselves might need to change. They are things that make us feel unsafe and different.  It may also be that we worry what others think and this brings insecurities to the fore. We become stressed and fearful because we may not have what we perceive as the same secure life as other people.  We forget that life itself is insecure. and we forget that we are not all the same. After all, it feels safer to be part of a group, doesn't it? Even if we forget that within that group there may be someone who doesn't entirely fit the mould.

I see that we are one in a human sense concerning the things we actually need like food and love, but we also have different personalities and desires.  Therefore one size does not fit all and we do not have to conform in the way we sometimes allow ourselves to feel we should. We set ourselves up for stress and upset by our constant wanting to change others to do things the way we think  they should be done and be the way we want them to be. While I have always intrinsically known this, now I have proved this truth to myself.

I have been experimenting on and off with the path of least resistance, trying to only be motivated by love. When I have used it, life has been peaceful but when I have reverted to my usual railing against the way things are,all hell breaks lose. Currently, I am biting my tongue, avoiding confrontation, avoiding giving my negative opinions and refusing to get riled up by jokes or comments. I am also pausing and responding mindfully rather than mindlessly reacting and already it's working better for me than the constant railing against people or conditions. I had a huge opportunity to put all this into practice just yesterday and it was nice to come away feeling positive and calm. 

When I mentioned all this to someone just this morning, they suggested that behaving like this was a 'cop out' and people acting this way were allowing themselves to be doormats. I can see what they are trying to say but I feel that not accepting what is and constantly railing against it is even more damaging. For me it is damaging to my nerves, my emotions, my physical being and my soul. Changing my own behaviours rather than constantly fighting against others,is a better path, at least it is for me. I am not saying that we should accept life the way it is and that's that. I am saying that we could accept it for what it is and see it as a work in progress, always growing and improving things as we go. We could just do it in a quieter, calmer and hopefully more effective way. I see it as a letting go of the behaviours and attitudes that don't serve me. I see that only a change and shift within myself can bring about a lasting change to dump the turmoil.

So far, following this path of least resistance, while also calmy speaking my needs, while not reacting to barbs and comments, is bringing different reactions from other people. In a way, some of the changes I originally wanted to force are coming about simply by changing or shifting something within myself.

One of the lessons that I finally learned as 2013 came to a close was that trying to change other people is trying to control them. I spent two whole days reflecting on this truth at every given moment and realised that it really is true that the only person we can change is ourselves.

So for 2014, I hope to have learned enough that I can speak calmy my needs as a mother, wife, daughter, sister and do it from a calm place. I will not volunteer too much information, let others manipulate me or try to do it to them, not feel that I have to constantly explain myself to others and strive to be quietly effective in the things I set out to do .

I had an upsetting end to the year 2013 and the beginning of 2014 but it's served to finally teach me a few things. It is said that the same things will keep happening to you over and over until you finally learn the lesson! Aint that the truth!

What have you learned in 2013?


  1. Hi, Claire,
    I just read an article in a major USA newspaper that was responding to the very process you're beginning. The article was about couples and how most couples will respond to the kind, tenderhearted comments...ways of their partners rather than the arguing and demanding of that same partner. Many people are afraid to lose ground in ongoing arguments. The fear is that you'll become the proverbial doormat of the aggressive partner if you don't get after them, putting them in their place and demanding their respect. The players in this game are shocked that their partners no longer respect them nor show any love or affection.
    So good for you, Claire! You're on the right track. Give it time and you'll see a rich payback in the same kindness and love!

    1. It goes for every relationship in our lives I think! I'm also thinking of my elderly mother in this instance. So far so good!


  2. I love this post Claire. I too have come to realise that the only person I can 'actively' change is myself, however, I've also noticed that when I make a change to my own behaviour or actions or approach to life there is often a knock on effect that can change the way that other people round about me behave. For example, when I stopped interrupting people when they were talking to me, giving them more time to express themselves, I found that, in turn, they slowed down and stopped interrupting me. I felt heard by some of my friends who, previously, just didn't seem to listen. Of course, it doesn't always work that way, but I definitely do agree with you that trying to control other people is not the way to go.
    As far as what I've learned in 2013 is concerned, well, it's lots of things! One of the most important is that I don't have to always be on the look out for some new thing, or new opportunity, or something else to keep me busy. There is a multitude of things in my life that I don't ever want to change (my last blog post explains) and I've been taking a bit of time out recently to simply appreciate who and what I have. Hope that makes some kind of sense!
    All the very best for a peaceful 2014

  3. I LOVE your perspective. So very, very true. I find my best work is done when I'm trying to change myself and myself only. Life is much happier from that angle, too!

  4. I'm rarely confrontational. I try to listen carefully and respond calmly. If I disagree, I believe it's possible to do so without getting angry or trying to "win." We all have ideals, ways we think others should behave or act - unfortunately, sometimes "others" don't cooperate. I try to have the confidence to walk away or move on if a situation becomes truly unpleasant. Nothing can be resolved if the atmosphere is dominated by frustration of bitterness. Good luck on your new resolve. Have a great 2014!

  5. As we go through the storms in life, most of the time we don't know why or even how to handle it. Coming out of it seems to give us more perspective and insight on what just happened and helps us to prepare for the next one. You seem to be seeking wisdom and getting it. You'll know when you need to tweak it a bit. Don't let others decide for you.

    Happy New Year Claire, to you and your family!

    Thanks for stopping by recently. One of your comments was really funny. It was on the PDA post, I believe. :)

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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