Have you ever wanted to have the power to control minds? I know that I often think to myself: “Life would be so much easier if everyone would just listen to me and do what I tell them.” I doubt that I’m the only one who’s ever thought this way.
We often find ourselves trying to change others. Trying to change what they do, what they say and even how they say it. Fundamentally, we are trying to change how they treat us.
- That guy at work.
- That family member.
- And especially that one person… you know – yes that one!
You’ve probably heard this line before:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I would like to offer a slightly different version of this:
“Insanity is dealing with the same person over and over again and expecting them to act differently this time.”
Yes, people can and do change. Yes, it is worthwhile to discuss things with one another in the spirit of debate. And yes, sometimes people actually do change.
The insanity part happens when you expect them to change – or worse, you insist that they change.
People will do what they do. And they’ll do it when they do it – not a moment sooner. Just because something is the right thing to do, or the logical thing to do, or what any reasonable person would do in the same circumstances, or what you would do… doesn’t mean that everyone will do it that way. This is where the mind control comes in!
(Lean closer… here’s the secret…) The only mind over which you can ever have guaranteed control… is your own. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we will have peace of mind. People are far less frustrating, disappointing, and upsetting once you release them from the expectations that you’ve placed on them to behave the way you want them to.
Now I’m certainly not suggesting that you need to accept their actions or compromise on your ideals. What I’m suggesting is that your energy is better spent on controlling your own mind – controlling your expectations and your reactions.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say that my friend and I need to discuss plans for an upcoming party. She tells me that she’ll call me at 10, but I’ve known her for years and past experience tells me that she’s never on schedule.
By 10:30 I haven’t heard from her. Then it’s 10:45 and still nothing.
When she finally does call at 11:00, I have a choice…
A) I can discuss our plans for the upcoming party.
B) I can use our phone call to discuss (calmly or otherwise) why she didn’t follow through on her promise to call me at 10:00. I can explain the impact that her tardiness had on me and how it messed up my morning plans. I can recount the last five times she has been late and how much that upsets me and makes it difficult to deal with her. I can talk about the complete lack of respect that she shows by not valuing my time and for thinking that she is more important than I am. I can…. You get the idea.
Either way – we still have to discuss our plans for the party.
Avoiding The Trap
Now you might be saying: “But if you choose Option A, then your friend ‘wins’ and will never learn to change her ways.” If you’re saying that, you’ve just fallen into the trap!
I’m talking about the trap of convincing ourselves that people will eventually see things our way. We just need to do explain it to them more effectively. Or more repeatedly. Or more loudly. Or more forcefully.
If I feel that I absolutely must talk to my friend about her inability to be on time, I can choose to bring this up with her later, as a separate discussion. This is likely going to be a more productive conversation than if I try to address it when we need to be discussing the party plans.
In situations like this, I always remind myself of a great quote from author Byron Katie: “If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark.” This puts the ball back in my court. When I approach the situation this way, I can choose to either accept my friend’s issues and adjust my expectations accordingly; or if I’m unwilling to change my expectations, I can choose to simply limit the amount of interaction that I have with this person.
Either way, the choice is mine because the only mind that I can control is my own.