I’m all about analogies, I always have been. I think they can paint a clear picture of something without overcomplicating things. Whenever my kids face difficult times or have arguments with friends, I always find myself using analogies to help them better understand a situation. So, I’m going to test the waters with you today and see how it goes. I did a recent TikTok to demonstrate the absolute absurdity of going to Dominos in search of Chinese food. If you can imagine how silly that would be, then chances are you can imagine how silly it is to continually expect different behavior from someone who has shown you time and time again that they are who they are. Let me explain…
People will show us who they are.
Sometimes it takes a while to figure out, unfortunately, just how a person works. I say unfortunately because I’m fairly certain none of us like spending our precious days believing we are experiencing a healthy relationship, (be it family, friend, or partner), only to have to go through this shocking realization that they were never who we thought they were.
It’s almost like having to go through a mourning phase for someone who never existed. Ouch.
While this can feel like wasted time or knock us on our asses feeling totally defeated, the truth is, we leave every relationship wiser and more connected to what we truly seek in our relationships.
So, I hope this helps.
No one is reading your mind (whew!)
Whenever we are in a relationship with someone, it is absolutely crucial to vocalize our thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. Because no matter how much we expect it, people can’t read our minds — and can I just say, “Thank God they can’t!” Could you imagine if someone had to hear all of the internalized ramblings of my mind? No, thank you.
That’s why it is such a valuable gift to be able to communicate our wants, needs, and desires with someone that we are hoping to stay connected with. If you find yourself cleaning up the entire kitchen after an amazing meal you both enjoyed, but you find yourself growing resentful because they aren’t helping…then my friend, that’s on you.
If you have ever heard of something as simple as the 5 Love Languages, then you know we all feel and show love in different ways. We are all different. That means some of us totally blank out while you’re cleaning the kitchen. It doesn’t occur to us to help. We think you’ve totally got this one. Maybe our parents never actually taught us to do the dishes, so it’s not even on the radar.
I’m not trying to make excuses, I’m just saying that people can never know you desire help or what you want from them unless you verbally communicate it.
I just had to make sure to get this out of the way because sometimes we can let ourselves live by this belief that people should just be who we want them to be. They should be able to anticipate our needs. If you are living by this false belief, let me officially give you permission to communicate — after all, that’s really the only way to ever get what you want.
Who I really want to talk to are those of you who have communicated, you’ve talked until you’re blue in the face and yet, nothing seems to be changing…what then?
“No bars” communication
While open communication is a great thing and is absolutely necessary to understanding and working better with another person, there will come a time (I’m sure you have already experienced it) when your feelings are not honored the way you had hoped they would be.
I’m gonna go ahead and say this is a big red flag. If you have done your part in communicating then the other person should most definitely meet you halfway and truly listen to whatever it is that you are expressing. (And vise versa.)
Unfortunately, sometimes, people will straight up ignore what you have to say.
They don’t care about what you want.
They think your point of view is stupid.
They are triggered by your words and act defensively rather than hearing you.
Going through this cycle is like trying to call someone whose cell phone has no bars. You can keep trying and trying and trying to reach them but they ain’t picking up. If that’s the case, it’s probably time to put the phone down and stop expecting that conversation to happen.
In other words, they aren’t going to serve up Chinese food. They don’t even care that you want it!
“I’ll try to get Chinese Food.” communication
Then there’s that type of communication where you feel heard, you feel listened to, you feel respected. Ahh, a breath of fresh air…but then…nothing changes.
It’s like the girl in the TikTok who keeps going to Dominos expecting them to have Chinese food because she has told them how much she likes Chinese food. No matter how many times she has gone there and found mostly pizza, she still gets upset every time that there’s no Kung Pao chicken.
Some people will want to change, they’ll try. Maybe they’ll even adapt the new behaviors or mannerisms that we seek for a while. But if they keep reverting back to only pizza…then it’s time to trust that pizza is all they are going to be serving up.
Maybe this is selfish on their part or maybe it’s just truly difficult for someone to be who you are requesting they be because it would mean turning against who they naturally are.
Accept people for who they are
If you have ever looked at one of your relationships and thought to yourself, “They are supposed to be (fill in the blank).”
For example, “A dad is supposed to be someone who plays catch with you and takes you out for ice cream after.”
While this is a lovely image, it might not be true for who your dad is.
And if you are the baseball player who loves ice cream, your dad could just as easily be sitting at home saying, “My son should want to stay inside and learn chess! I have been trying to teach him his whole life!”
The truth is, whether we like it or not, just about everyone carries around some sort of opinion about who we are supposed to be, how we are supposed to live, or how we are supposed to look.
News flash: it is impossible for us to be everything to everyone. Therefore, it is impossible to expect someone else to be everything we expect them to be.
When actual bliss can begin to happen is when we begin to allow people to be who they have shown us they are. Not only can this mindset shift grant us inner peace and acceptance of whoever we encounter. It can also give us the freedom to truly be who we are without feeling the need to apologize or morph into being someone we are not.
People change. On their own timeline.
It totally sucks that you can’t help people change. I know the most well-meaning of us just try to help inspire change in another person because we believe it will be better for them. We think we can help them be happier, more productive, more efficient.
The honest truth is that no one can change unless they themselves feel that spark in them to change. Our minds are a powerful thing and they have to align on their own with the decision to change before transformation can take place. The desire might be there, but that’s not enough to spark the action.
So yes, people can change, but unfortunately, you don’t get much of a say in the process.
Maybe you stop going to Dominos. Maybe you just enjoy the pizza.
When you allow yourself to have total acceptance of a person for who they are this means one of two things: you maintain a relationship without asking them to be someone they are not, or you remove yourself from the relationship because who that person is is toxic to who you are.
Enjoy the pizza.
I always give the example of my anti-social husband, Tom. He used to go into panic mode whenever I would go to parties with my friends or attend one of their weddings. He hates socializing, especially in a group of people he doesn’t know.
At first, I had thoughts like,
“People are going to think we have a bad relationship.” (We didn’t.)
“Everyone will feel sorry for me.” (maybe they did)
“He should want to be with me at these things.” (Well, he supports me in every other way, is this that crucial?)
Then one day I chose to just accept that socializing isn’t who he is. After all, I wouldn’t want him to force me to go watch WWE or something equally as awful. Why should I expect him to do something that makes him super uncomfortable?
So I backed off. Sometimes he attended with me, sometimes he didn’t. Either way, I was ok because I’m a social butterfly. I flit around and have a good time no matter what.
In this case, I accepted his “pizza” and it took years, but you know what? Eventually, he started WANTING to serve Chinese food. AKA he started deciding to push his comfort zone a little and go to more events with me. My total acceptance of who he was encouraged him to want to push himself to branch out more. Did I expect this? No. Was it some sneaky tactic to make him BEND to my will? Definitely not. There is simply beauty in being completely accepted as you are.
Stop going to Dominos.
Unfortunately, sometimes accepting someone’s “pizza” means deciding that you go get your Chinese food elsewhere. You don’t want pizza. You can’t live with pizza. That’s ok.
This might mean ending a relationship, or maybe it means setting a healthy boundary because even though you don’t want pizza, you can handle popping in the store from time to time.
Accepting people for who they are not only frees you by releasing your expectations. it also gives you the freedom to know when to walk away. How to set boundaries with toxic people.
As it is
This tiny mind tweak has spared me a lot of heartbreak and stress over the years. Living with a total acceptance of who people are, and who you are, allows you to accept what is rather than being in a constant state of trying to change people, the past, or even the future.
We are given only the present moment and we can’t do anything with it if we refuse to accept it (and the people in it) as it is.