Recently I had a conversation with somebody who had a desire to change things at his workplace. It was quite a difficult situation because he was not in the position to tell the others how he would like things to be. He wanted to change the situation because it reminded him of childhood. There were patterns at his workplace that reminded him of his parents and their struggles. As in the picture above it was difficult to see where his road was taking him and he was unclear about his next step.
This reminds me of traveling. When I arrived in a new country I would find out that certain things were done in ways so illogical that I just wanted to slam my face against the wall out of frustration. I just couldn’t understand that people could be so stupid to tolerate that particular kind of inefficiency that I was encountering. It took some time and a couple of countries before I could accept that not everybody sees things in the way I see them. And even though there were situations that I never learned to understand I did learn to accept. Acceptance made my life a lot easier.
I have learned that our motives to change things are often selfish. We want things to be different because we are uncomfortable with how things are now. A large part of our behavior comes from avoiding childhood pain. I think this is also a good thing, or better: that very good things can come from it. I imagine that the man who invented the washing machine didn’t want his wife and his children to go through what he and his mother went through. And even though his motives were selfish or even greed-driven he made the lives of many of us easier. I think a washing machine is a great invention. But it doesn’t work so well with people.
What is the saying? Change what you can’t accept and accept what you can’t change. Perhaps it is also wise to accept that it is easier to change yourself than another person. Inventing a washing machine is one thing, trying to change your mother, father, girlfriend or boyfriend an entirely different thing.
I find it helpful to look at the resistance in me if I experience resistance between myself and another. When I look closely and am very honest towards myself I can see that I feel hurt somehow. If somebody doesn’t agree immediately with my ideas or suggestions I feel unappreciated and misunderstood and I feel the urge to sulk. But because sulking is not very manly my subconscious mind quickly decides to swap sulking for anger. Fortunately I can see these emotions come up and have enough presence to not be taken over by them. I don’t act them out although I assume that the wave of anger doesn’t go completely unnoticed to others.
It is hard to change other people, if not impossible, assuming that tyranny, brainwashing and suppression is not an option. But I do think we can work on our own flexibility and understanding. The better we understand ourselves, the better we can understand the other. If we understand where the other is coming from, the bigger the chance we can find some common ground. Another thing that comes with self-development is courage. And with courage and understanding we can also come to the point where we can either make ourselves heard and understood or leave. This is how I work towards changing a situation: if I don’t see what my next step should be, I wait and invest in my own empowerment. As I get clearer and more courageous I will see what is needed and then take the appropriate step.
This is episode 31 in a series of 100 blog posts that will be published daily during the 100 Day Warrior, a unique program around physical strength, inner wisdom and meaning. All posts are written by Atalwin Pilon, founder of Basic Goodness and creator of the 100 Day Warrior. For requests for motivational speaking, in-company workshops, online coaching and mindfulness training click here. If you would like to join our international community of brave and inspiring human beings or just follow this blog and receive updates, please click here or sign up on the right side of the page. Atalwin specializes in coaching smart and creative people, both groups and individuals. If you are interested in a free coaching session click here.