Change is part of life and cannot be avoided and yet that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy thing to embrace. There are many others ways that can be sought as a way to avoid change. One of those ways is to try and change other people.
This is something that probably comes under the umbrella of the terms control and manipulation. And it can be part of all types of relationships. If one were to experience the odd occasions of being with someone who tried to change them, it is unlikely to create much of a problem.
But it is going to be a problem in intimate relationships and in the relationships where one spends most of their time.
A Matter Of Degree
As human beings, we are constantly trying to shape and control the world to how we want it to be. And when it doesn’t match up to what we want, we can try to change it, feel dejected for how it is or we can accept it.
So while it would be easy to say some people try to change others and some people don’t; this would be a gross oversimplification. It becomes a problem when people go to the extreme and when the person that they are trying to change doesn’t want to change.
To be surround by people who are trying to change who one is or to be in a relationship with someone like this, will inevitably lead to problems.
Here one can end up feeling: controlled, trapped, compromised, vulnerable, overwhelmed, ashamed, angry, guilty, frustrated, fearful, rejected, worthless, abandoned and invalidated. To feel that that one is not good enough or enough as they are, is also likely to ensue.
Through one feeling this way on the inside, it could lead to the creation of drama and even violence. What it is unlikely to lead to is a relationship that is healthy or functional. At first feelings of anger may arise and these could soon turn to resentment.
On one side there is the person that wants to change the other and on the other side there is the person who is trying to be changed. And each person has their own reality and is experiencing difference things.
It would be easy to say one person is the perpetrator and the other person is the victim and to leave it at that. On the surface these roles may appropriately describe what is going on. And yet this is not only disempowering, it is also doesn’t look at what is going on at a deeper level.
In this person’s reality, they are likely to perceive the other person as being the problem and that they need to change as a result. To them, it appears that the reason they feel as they do is because of what the other person is doing.
And by the other person becoming who they want them to be, not only will the other person improve; it will also allow one to feel better as a result of this change.
For this person, it is likely that they will feel that the other person is coming onto their personal space. It may appear that the other person has more control than they do. At first this type of behaviour could be rejected, but if this continues, one could start to believe what is being said and that one does actually need to change.
The fact it might not have anything to do with this person and may well be the perpetrator, who actually needs to change, could then be overlooked. This type of behaviour can gradually work someone down until their own inner voice is no longer heard.
Due to both of these people having their own reality, at a deeper level it is more about what is going on for each person, than what the other person is doing. What first becomes clear, is that there is a boundary problem here
Boundaries allow one to know where they begin and end and where another person begins and ends. This enables one to see that their reality is not the same as anyone else’s reality; with each person having their own personal experience of life.
When one doesn’t have boundaries, it will lead to situations where one thinks that what is going on outside is the problem and that the external world has to be changed.
For the person who is trying to change others, this is due to repression and projection. The other person is triggering those elements that have been repressed. This could be emotions, feelings or memories that are too painful to deal with.
These then get project and placed onto other people. And as way to regulate this internal pain, they try to change other people. But this will never work and simply because the other person is unlikely to be the one who needs to change. No matter what they do, it won’t change what one is unwilling to face in themselves.
So the reason they keep attracting people who ‘need to change’ is because this will enable them to face what they have been denying. This doesn’t mean that this will always take place though.
It is likely that the reason this person attracts people who are trying to change them is due to what they have not faced within themselves. Certain emotions and memories will also have been repressed in them.
But as they are not willing to face this inner conflict, it then shows up in the people that they attract into their life. Ultimately, they are showing one what they need to let go of.
As this person comes to accept who they are, other people will also come to accept them for who they are. And if they don’t, then one will simply have no need to have them in their life.
We all have our own reality and yet this doesn’t mean that it will always be seen this way. What makes one feel uncomfortable can be pushed out of conscious awareness and as time goes by, this can then show up in other people.
It may be easy to blame other people and while this will create a momentary release; it is unlikely to lead to transformation taking place. And one will then continue to attract the same type of people.
To let go of this inner conflict, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of a therapist, healing or a coach. Or one may feel that they can undertake this process themselves, without external support.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.