The only person whom you can change

“Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”
“A: Only one, but it really has to want to change.”

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice…”
— Rush, “Freewill”

“Minds are like parachutes.  They only work when they’re open.”
— Thomas Dewar

The other day, I was watching the Tour de France on the TV with a couple of friends, when another guy walked in.  He started going off, unprompted, about how “bicycling isn’t a real sport,” “I know because I worked with bicyclists,” and so on.  The way he was talking, it was blatantly obvious, even to me who doesn’t know as much about cycling (as a sport) as my friends did, that he had no idea what he was talking about.  This person was aggravating — to the point where one of my friends finally said to him, “I’m done talking to you.”

Someone once said that you can’t outtalk someone who knows what he’s talking about.  Unfortunately, you also can’t outtalk someone who has an opinion and is unwilling to change it.  It is for exactly this reason why I refuse to talk about politics with anyone.  No matter what facts you tell that person, you’ll never be able to change him or her.  Any attempt to do so only gets you frustrated and angry.

There is only one person over whom you have 100% control: you.

You have the power to influence change on others.  You can’t completely change them.  We all have our own thoughts and opinions that we express to others.  But as much as we’d like for people to see the world the way we see it, it’s ultimately up to them to make up their own minds and act upon their own thoughts.

I’m thinking about the movie Coming To America, where Eddie Murphy’s character is talking to his newly appointed bride-to-be.  “Jump on one leg.  Bark like a dog.”  And she does — without any question.  This scene brings up two thoughts.  First,  what he couldn’t do was convince her to be her own person.  He doesn’t have that power.  Nobody does, except for that person.  Second, would you really want a friend, spouse, or significant other who (as much as we like to joke about it) is completely obedient to every single word you way?  I sure don’t.  My wife is one of the most strong-willed individuals I know (note: individual is a key word).  And I wouldn’t want her any other way.  Sure, we fight on occasion; all spouses, couples, and even friends do.  There is no relationship that is 100% perfect.  There shouldn’t be.  Every person is their own individual.  It’s up to that person as to how to change.

I previously wrote about how change is inevitable.  It is up to us to determine how that change happens — and how we should handle it.  We can always try to influence change — and we should.  But influencing change is not the same as implementing change.  People will always try to influence you with their opinions.  What you do with those opinions is up to you.

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