Recently, a friend of mine stopped coming to a regularly scheduled social event I organized. I had seen it coming for some time, but it was still frustrating and sad. He missed several meetings without explanation and got angry with me when I confronted him about it. Now he’s ignoring me entirely.
It got me to thinking about powerlessness (I swear this is going to be a positive post overall, just bear with me!). One of the most important, and most frustrating, lessons that I’ve learned in life is that you can’t make anyone do anything, no matter how much you want them to.
My life has been fraught with these kinds of frustrations. I keep trying to encourage someone I’m very close to to go to a psychiatrist for her anxiety, but she refuses. I keep trying to encourage another person to take control of his life and pursue his dreams, but he lacks the motivation. Another to break up with their partner who they’re dissatisfied with, but she keeps getting cold feet. Another to go to a psychologist for his crippling depression, but he insists he’s fine.
This lesson was really beat home with my alcoholic ex last year. I wanted so much for him to stop drinking. I tried everything: screaming, crying, threats, pretending the problem didn’t exist. And nothing worked. It took me a long time to realize that nothing worked because it wasn’t about me. It took me a long time to realize that he wasn’t choosing alcohol over me, even the time he got so drunk he missed his flight and my birthday party or all the times he lied about his drinking and sabotaged our relationship. There was nothing I could do to get him to stop.
If the strength of me wanting my loved ones to do (or not do) these things was enough to get them to change, believe me, they would have done so.
But it’s not about me. Nothing I can do will ever get them to change. Nothing you can do will ever get anyone you love to change.
There is something you can do though. You can take care of yourself.
Obviously this is a good goal in and of itself. But that’s not all. Being positive and taking care of yourself inspires others to do the same. Too often in our lives we are terrible role models for others. People brag about how little sleep they got, how long they spent in the office, or how much they hate their jobs. They don’t brag about getting a full 8 hours, having a good work life balance, or loving them. But why not?
Since I’ve been boxing and trying to be healthier, I’ve noticed it’s inspired others to do the same. My dad worked out with me the other day when the boxing gym was closed. My mom finally got the orthodics she needed in her shoes so her feet wouldn’t be in pain.
When you take care of yourself and do what you live, it makes a difference. You become a more positive person and treat others better. You motivate others to change. You become a source of inspiration. You become an agent for change.
Go out there and take care of yourself. Because you deserve it. And because it is up to us to make the world a more positive place.