After all these years, it still surprises us to hear the collective groan from participants when they read that quote. Of course we know we can’t change other people…..so why do we keep trying?
There are several reasons. Here’s a few we can think of:
- You think you know what is best for the other person.
- You don’t want to face the fact that the relationship may be broken and needs to end or new boundaries need to be set. You tell yourself: “I will try just one more time to change my husband, or girlfriend, or boss.”
- You don’t want to face your own powerlessness in the situation. You would rather fool yourself that you are in control than face that you have no power over another person.
All this boils down to the fact that, in many situations, it may be easier to wish and hope that you can change others rather than take responsibility for your own actions – and the “shifts” that are called for in your own life.
You cannot change other people. You only change your response to other people. This is a hard fact to swallow for most of us.
The Victim mentality, which is the central role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™, is rooted in seeing life as a series of complaints about what you don’t like. You want to change others so you can get your needs and desires met. This can be a great way to avoid taking responsibility for yourself!
Even though you may see yourself as trying to help others (the Rescuer role in the DDT), underneath there may be a story you are telling yourself that other people aren’t okay, you know better and, therefore, they should listen to you. This is a form of arrogance that you may be disguising as a helpful attitude and behavior.
The Persecutor wants to change other people too. When you persecute, you are trying to control the situation. You may do this by dominating the other person until you have inflicted enough pain that they eventually change.
The paradox is that we all want to be accepted and appreciated by others. When others try to change us, we become defensive and dig in even more. So why would we not treat others as we would want to be treated?
By accepting others and taking responsibility for your response to a situation (even if it is a harsh situation that calls for tough choices), you are acting as a Creator, the foundational role in TED*.
Another paradox is that as you model for others acceptance and taking responsibility for your own behaviors and choices they, too, may choose to change themselves!