Sometimes the greatest shifts in yourself or in a relationship happen when we are not attached to the outcome of a realization. What do I mean? Miracles are never expected.
People are obnoxious. They do things we don’t like. They don’t see it correctly. They have their own hangups and fears and sometimes they let those things control their behavior. Often we are told by caring people to not let these nasty people get to us. It’s not personal. That can feel dismissive and overly simple. What it means is, look at yourself and your part in the exchange. It doesn’t have to be miserable. I have two examples of a time when I saw myself in a relationship that wasn’t working and decided to not continue in the same way. And both times simply making that observation and decision changed the other person’s behavior. This was an unexpected surprise because I was not attached the outcome of the other person changing. So win win! Here’s what I’m talking about: When I was a very young adult I worked at a coffee shop. One of my many superiors was an older very sassy man. He was in charge of the place often and would make very rude and inappropriate (albeit often hilarious) comments about customers and our coworkers. Almost every day he would say something mean about me to me in a “playful” way that was very witty but very hurtful. It got to the point when I didn’t want to work with him. I would think about it all the time. Seeing his car in the parking lot would filled me with dread because I knew he’d be mean to me all day again. So one day I decided okay, this guy is miserable, he’s a bully. What do we do with bullies? Not put up with them. So I decided not to take his shit any more. I’d let him know next time he said something rude to me that that wasn’t okay. And guess what? Next time we worked together and ever since he didn’t say anything to me. Not at all! I never had to put him in his place. Somehow his subconscious picked up my subconscious. We didn’t acknowledge it outright. But the magic part is that I didn’t intend for him to stop. I just intended for me to stop being a doormat. I made a decision about my part without wishing or hoping he’d change. Because guess what people never change.
Another similar example: I was training for a new work position. My superior was also a ball of unacknowledged self-hatred who took things out on others. She didn’t listen and had an impossible time giving up control and actually letting me do anything. I felt very uncomfortable around her and felt that she was in constant competition with me. I began of course judging her inability to lead and her general incompetence and lack of self-awareness. The situation felt hopeless. Then I realized that I was judging her and she was very likely picking up on that and that probably lead to our friction. I mean, who likes being judged? No one. Once I realized I was using a false sense of superiority to make myself feel better about a situation and a person I couldn’t control the next time we interacted she had changed drastically. She was much more relaxed and let me actually do things. It was like a switch had been flipped. And again, like the previous time, I had no expectation for her behavior to change. I just acknowledged what I was contributing to the situation. In both situations if I had said oh okay good now they’ll chill out on me if I do something, that probably wouldn’t have happened. And of course, not being attached to an outcome is damn near impossible, but it does happen, as you can see from my personal examples above. Also, if I were to share my side of these stories with these two people I have a feeling they would not know what I was talking about. I do not believe that either one of them noticed a change consciously because they were operating from their subconscious selves. And, I’m sure this has happened to me a million times and I didn’t realize it because I was operating subconsciously, too. I also realize that both of my examples are with myself as a subordinate and an authority figure and there’s probable some reason for that I should explore, but this magic shift can happen with friends and family too. It can happen with anyone. So, what is your contribution to a relationship that isn’t working? Are you judging? Are you scared of rejection? Or something else. What can you do for yourself to change it? And remember, don’t do it to inspire the other person to change. That’s a great way to be disappointed.