It's extremely difficult to change people
Most of us have someone in our life we'd like to change. It might be a lover, a child, a boss, or a neighbor. We try every trick at our disposal to meet that end, but in general we are likely to fail. Changing a person who doesn't want to be changed is a very difficult, if not impossible task.
When I was a child, there was another family with which my family was good friends. There was a boy in this other family - let's call him Tom - who was always in trouble.
His mother would drop him off at school in the morning, and then get a call later in the day to say he wasn't there. The police would sometimes bring him home after he'd been caught shoplifting or stealing from cars. He was always friends with all the worst kids in the neighborhood, and together they constantly got into trouble.
His parents tried everything they could to change their rebellious little boy. They'd punish, bribe, and lecture him. They paid a lot of money to send him to special schools for unruly children. They tried to interest him in more constructive activities by buying him all the equipment.
His mother cried in an attempt to make him feel guilty. His father shouted in an attempt to frighten him into submission.
No matter what they did, nothing worked.
There was a simple reason for this. Being wild and uncontrollable was part of Tom's core personality. It was just an element of him. You could no sooner make him change it than you could change his skin color or his height.
Tom's parents loved him because he was their son - but they wished he was someone different. But trying to alter him was a futile task. He didn't want to change, and there was nothing on heaven or Earth which would make him.
Eventually, he grew up and settled down. Now he's married, owns a home and has a good steady job. Time, and his own decisions eventually calmed him. Nothing his parents did seemed to have any influence whatsoever.
This is a pretty typical story. Many people have someone in their life who they wish was different. But no matter who we are, the influence we can exert on the personality of others is usually pretty minimal. Generally, people just are who they are, and we have to accept that.
This can be a hard lesson to learn.
When I was younger, I had a girlfriend who was a little more promiscuous than usual. She just loved men. When I was with her, we had a great time together, but often she used to flirt and even have flings with other men.
I really liked her, and clung to the vain hope that I could somehow transform her so we'd have a long and happy relationship. I even considered asking her to marry me, in the desperate wish that it would alter her behavior.
Of course, eventually I woke up to myself and left her.
People reading this may be shaking their heads and thinking I was an idiot for putting up with such things - and they'd be absolutely right. But we've almost all been through something similar. There's someone we love, or need, or must deal with who has personality traits we wish they didn't.
Hard experience has taught me we have almost zero chance of ever changing such people. Any strategy we form that involves this is almost certain to fail. If you start out with the idea that you're unlikely to alter anyone's behavior or personality much, your plans are much more likely to succeed. This is simply because they'll be more realistic. In almost all cases, you should base your decisions on this fact.
This can be a difficult truth to accept, but I think it's a necessary one if we are to deal with the world successfully.
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