Twenty years ago, I remember giving a guy friend some advice. He lived at home with his Mom and they had a rip- roaring dysfunctional volatile relationship. I suspect this was the same thing she’d had with his father. I said, “Choose not to play the game with her. She’ll keep trying to engage you but she’ll give up after several failed attempts and you’ll change the relationship”. He was baffled. Change his reaction? But he had always made the same choice.

He had no idea how to not choose to react that way. Mothers install the buttons  for which there is no defense. She’d taught him lack of choice so he would play her game until her dying day. I realized, we all take part in a form of this. Whether it’s with our parents, spouses, children, or ourselves, we often don’t recognize our compulsory choices for what they are.

Recently, I was reading a self-esteem book of some sort and this idea reappeared. Again I thought, “Brilliant!” If you are A and another person is B, together your inter-relating dance equals C.  A + B = C. The yester-me, attempting to fix a primary wound, tried hard to change the ex’s of my past.  I scheduled fix-it operations for all the broken boys I met. I thought my past and I would then be fixed. I wanted that outcome D instead, but achieved in my way.

However, I have no control over my past or the other person who is B. All I have is me, A. As much as I may wish it, I’ll be dead and buried before I effect a change on B. But  if I tweak my outlook, the outcome called C changes to E or K or X. I have been hard at work tweaking my A.

And it works. Yes, it requires letting go of the hope of fixing and changing those you love. I believe leading by example is all you really can do anyway. Continue to offer your support  but stop asking others for that which you can give to yourself . And you’ll get your needs met for once. The trick is to be extremely honest about what your needs are and to be entitled to fulfill them. Even if that means the person you had slated to do the job is out of commission.

What if you are the one not stepping up for you? Changing choices move you from sad to glad? Do whatever it takes to change your perspective. Seek the insight and help you need. Travel outside your box or comfort zone to find that perspective above and beyond your comfort zone. Because either you will be telling yourself your life is worth just accepting the same old equation or you’re saying another outcome, and your happiness, is worth fighting for. If you are the change,  your happiness equation may be one different choice away. Change nothing and nothing changes.

My changes have included ceasing my need to fix everyone. Choosing to trust that what I needed would be provided for me. And mostly not choosing white flour and sugar, except some white bread week-ending for the cookout season. I am less anxious, ten pounds lighter, and feeling pretty positive that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I am now busy setting my mind and my new intents. Do me a favor and ask yourself, what is the change you’d like to affect? What more could you choose, or stop choosing, to get there?

If you have any thoughts, please drop a word below in the comments. Or

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  1. Great post & great reminder Shalagh! I am reminded of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love” or MJ’s “Man in the Mirror”, but Ghandi probably said it best: “be the change you want to see in the world.”

  2. I’ve tried to explain to some friends “you can’t control everyone’s actions or words but you can control how you react to them” and I’ve been met with a “you don’t understand AT ALL reaction”. Shootz, that’s a lotta quotes (don’t worry I’m not one of those people IRL who does air quotes when I talk). I sure as hell understand and like you said it takes a conscious decision to do so, a bit of looking inward/self-analyzing and practice. But…it can be done.

    Well written post by the way 🙂

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