I Am Slowly Learning That You Can’t Change People, You Can Only Love Them

Jeff Isy

Last year, there was a story about a blogger named Lexie Manion who responded to all of the people who trolled her about her weight with sincere compliments.

“I messaged a girl who had commented to me, ‘Gross. Still gross,’ saying that I loved the spelling of her name, that it was so unique and pretty, and she replied, ‘Aw, thank you! I love yours too!’” she told HuffPost. “I think that interaction was very interesting because it seemed like they didn’t register I was the same person they commented a rude remark to only a few hours ago. I think that interaction goes to show that there is a huge disconnect on social media.”

She proved something most people know and few easily accept. That we cannot change people, we can only love them, but that loving them is actually the work that needs to be done. By showing them love, you help heal the part of them that is projecting out hate in the first place.

Change is a self-generated thing. People don’t change us, challenges don’t change us. We change ourselves in response to these things, because of these influences.

It’s an old adage, but it bears repeating because it’s true: people will not change until they are ready to. They will not heal until it is time. There is no ultimatum, no threat, no promise that will make them shift their behavior. It has to come from their own sheer will.

Nobody has ever changed their mind about something because they were shut down, humiliated, insulted or even corrected. It is an illusion that we’re capable of making change in anyone’s lives but our own. It’s giving us more responsibility that we deserve.

Your incorrect thinking is that accepting someone means you placate their behaviors. What you miss is that people who hold onto destructive patterns and hateful mindsets are people who are crying out for love. When you show them care and kindness, they begin to heal.

It’s not always easy to be compassionate. But at the bare minimum, you can accept that there is something fractured within a person that would lead them to project their issues onto you. Hurt people hurt people – it’s as simple as that.

Instead of trying to tell the world around you how it has to change, work on changing how you see it. Every time someone’s insults trigger you, ask yourself why. Every time you become unreasonably angry, bitter and insulting, imagine that you are describing yourself because you are.

Every time someone is unreasonably unkind or self-destructive or judgmental, realize that it is a cry for love, one that you can be the first person to answer.

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” TC mark

Brianna Wiest

Brianna Wiest is the author of SALT WATER.

Stop searching for happiness in the same place you lost it.

Salt Water, the new poetry collection by Brianna Wiest, is a must-have book on your journey to healing. Grab a cup of tea and let these essential, purifying prose calm your mind and filter out the noise.

Salt Water is a slow deep breath, in and out. It sits in a new genre of poetry, somewhere between artistic self-expression and candid self-help.” — Lee Crutchley

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