Bode and Solape had been together for three years when he asked her to marry him. Oh, how happy Solape was, especially when she stared at the beautiful rock that donned the middle finger of her left hand. Plans were falling into place and they both were excited about their future together. Up until Bode told Solape about his own personal plans for her; she would have to resign from her firm so she could concentrate on being an effective wife to him and mother to their children. Bode never really liked Solape wearing make-up or hair extensions and if they were getting married, she had to throw out her make-up box and wear her hair natural. He also told her about his preference for skirts and dresses, he never really thought trousers were an appropriate clothing choice for women. Apparently, Solape was overweight too, thus she needed to hit the gym every day and quit all the sweets and chocolates she loved to munch on. What’s more, she had to do this before they got married or he would have to break their engagement.
Then Solape began to remember all the subtle snide remarks he had made about her hair and make-up, how when she asked him how she looked, he would just give a passing compliment. How when she complained about the demands of her job, he would smile and tell her she only had to endure for a little while. I guess Bode thought since he had given Solape a ring, he had earned a god-given right to also run her life. See, some people be thinking that being in a relationship or marriage gives them the license to become Jesus, they forget those shoes are just too huge to fill.
There is a MARKED difference between manipulation and influence; whilst the former is coerced and evil, the latter is genuine and productive. I think it is plain arrogant to think we can change other people; how well have we even changed ourselves? If you would be honest, you would own up to the many times you have been frustrated simply because you have tried so hard to change certain things about yourself to no avail. Those bad habits, addictions, bad behavior, I can’t count how many times I made resolutions that I didn’t honour or how self-talk only got me thus far. It takes a higher power to cause real and lasting change, that kind of transformation that is too good to be true.
We often tend to forget an important element in transformation; the willingness of the individual. Willingness cannot be obtained from manipulation or ultimatums but from a genuine realization of the need for change and a deep hunger to leave the status quo. However, willingness though important is only the starting point.
Change is such a beautiful gift; it is indeed a blessing that we can live better lives when we make a decision to do/be different. Just imagine what living would be like if we all had to stay the same, unable to do anything to alter our situations, frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it. Truly, the awareness of such an opportunity provides the motivation I need to get out of bed on some mornings as I draw strength from the endless possibilities in the horizon.
The problem with trying to change people though is that it is most times selfish. We can argue and try to rationalize how noble our intentions are but the reality is that we have a preferred stereotype for the other party and they don’t look like it. So we nag, we prod, we push, we threaten, we cajole, we manipulate, we demand, we blackmail, we do all sorts just to get that person to give up who they are for who we want them to be. Then we begin to wonder why there is resentment, why they avoid us, why they clam up when we are around, why the sparkle seems to have dimmed from their eyes and why they seem to be more stubborn than they were.
Perhaps, if we remembered that we didn’t create humans, we might also recognize that we have no right to tell them who/what to be. Some would even say, ‘if you really love me, you would do what I ask’. Now, that is a warped definition of love as 1 Corinthians 13: 5 says, ‘love does not demand its own way and it is not irritable’.
I do get that sometimes, we have genuine concern for people who are making poor choices. One of the benefits of our relationships is in our ability to influence people and have positive impact on them. Indeed, it is a great testimony that people learn to live better lives after they meet us but we don’t achieve that by being forceful or manipulative. Influence does not erode the other person’s will; it educates it to consider a different choice.
What if we just learnt to accept people for who they are without pressuring them to be different? What if we just decided what we couldn’t cope with and did the other person a favour by pursuing the kind we really want? What if we just loved people by not trying to control them?
The best way to elicit change from other people is not to concentrate on them but on you. You have heard that saying, ‘Be the change you want to see’, it’s not overrated at all. Let your light so shine that they yearn to have what you got going on. Try to adapt, make some changes in yourself and watch how the other person responds. More often than not, changing one’s self is a seed sown to reap changes in others but remember, to have true and lasting change, you need more than your will power.
If there is anything thing I have learnt, it is that the only person I can control is myself and truly, the only person I need to control is myself.
© Mo’ Omoregee 2014