Every since I was a kid my mom would take me to this Chinese restaurant a town over from where we lived in Michigan. My last trip back we ended up going there to get some food. Surprisingly, the waitress that waited on us when I was in grade school still worked there and remembered us! Off the wall.
Unlike my grade school days, I wasn’t just going for the AMAZING almond chicken. This time I wanted to pick my mom’s brain and get some advice. At the time, I was just coming off a rocky break up and needed to set some things straight in my own life.
The first thing I began to tell her, which she and anyone else very close to me knows, is that I get angry when things or people I’m close with aren’t up to my standards. I don’t just get mad though, i tear into people personally from the inside out. It’s a dark side of my personality, that rarely gets shown unless I truly care about someone.
My mom told me what seems obvious: Think before you say anything, especially when talking to people you are close with. Sometimes we think just because we are close with someone – a sibling, parent, partner, etc – we can unleash our anger and frustrations out on them. That isn’t fair to anyone. This was a good refresh for me to think before I start rambling, and boy can I ramble.
As our conversation progressed I began to go deeper and talk about how I had this need to change people to make them better. Most of us have been in this situation and almost all of us come out with the same realization: you can’t change people they can only change themselves. This is completely true. My mom told me to care about other people but to not get involved with the details and to Lead By Example. Another obvious slap in the face from my Mom. There are a lot of examples of when you might want to change someone, but instead you must lead by example…
Trying to get your friends to eat right? Eat right when your with them and when they ask you how you lost so much weight tell them how you did it KNOWING that they may never take your advice. Just give, don’t push.
Trying to get someone to be happy? Be happy and learn about happiness. If they aren’t happy with you or as a person they won’t last in your life.
Bottom line is, you need to lead by example without even caring if the other person changes with you. They will fall away on the sidelines or run along with you for a crazy adventure.
So if you can sometimes be an angry man like me, think before you say anything (especially when talking with people close to you) AND instead of trying to change people, lead by example.
Thank you Mom.