Change is inevitable. We hear this all the time. Yes, it's true. Life changes every day. The people we love change, the world changes, life as we know it changes. This is never more obvious than in today's COVID-19 world. Some things we simply can't control.
I've loved and still love many people that have struggled with alcohol and drug use. I've tried fixing all their problems to no avail. I've tried making their worlds comfortable and more appetizing. All to no avail. I did this for YEARS, yes YEARS, until I began to focus on something I really didn't want to. I started focusing on myself.
It didn't happen on purpose. The truth is I went to counseling prior to my divorce looking for some sort of green light to stay or go. I had never been to counseling before but a friend had seen this particular therapist and spoke so highly of her, it seemed like the answer. So, I went. This was a few months after my brother had killed himself and I mentioned all of the other stuff before casually throwing in, "Oh, and my brother killed himself a few months ago. So, there's that.". The therapist's jaw hit the floor. Well, that's not true. But, I did get some rather large eyes and it seemed to me there was much more to explore than I realized. I figured all this crap was happening to me. People in my life were messed up. How do I get them to listen to me, once and for all? They are broken, not me.
What I learned, lots of visits and well-spent dollars later, is that I needed to focus on myself. What could I control? I learned that so many of my thoughts were simply wrong. I learned that I wasn't right all the time (shocking. . . I know.). Therapy has been an incredibly humbling experience for me. And, at the same time, attending graduate school for addiction and mental health counseling has been a learning experience. I've found compassion where there was none. Acceptance where there was none. And rediscovered the love that was always there.
Do you find yourself asking:
Why can't she just stop using?
Why can't he just do what I want him to do?
I've found acceptance. Not an easy thing. It's taken me YEARS to find acceptance with some people in my life. Can you accept him or her just as she is?
If you want someone in your life to be different or act differently, ask yourself: "Am I being the change that I wish to see?". How am I behaving in this situation? Am I defensive, yelling, screaming, controlling? Or, am I loving, compassionate, and honoring myself? If we are constantly nagging our loved ones what can we expect in return? Nothing positive, I can assure you of that. But, what if instead we approach conversations with love?
How can I do this? It takes time and patience is necessary. Most of us are not patient people, myself included. The first step is to take a look at yourself. What sorts of things are you doing that might be causing you discontentment or unhappiness? What sort of behavior are you not proud of?
Then, dive in. Journal. Take some quiet time to examine your thoughts. I encourage you to seek therapy or coaching if you need some guidance in this area. Even a few sessions can make a difference. When you find yourself saying something, doing something or being something you don't like, simply pause and make a mental note (journal if you can - but I'm a realist). The more you notice the behavior the easier it will become to change it. Over time, you will notice your response to arguments changing. You will become softer and more approachable. This is a love-based approach.
And, a little disclaimer: life won't always go the way we wish it would. Just because we change what we are doing does not mean that our loved ones will act or be different than they are today. But, I promise if you focus on yourself, you will begin to see them differently. Perhaps, you will need to take some time or space away from them. Or, maybe you will find that you can love them just as they are with no stipulations or judgments on your part.
With love and virtual hugs,
Another post that might be helpful from Rise Up Mission: Is it love or is it fear? https://www.riseupmission.com/post/is-it-love-or-is-it-fear