If you want to change the other person, look in the mirror!
Picture the scene. Husband comes home from a long day at the office. He’s hot and bothered from a lousy journey home. As soon as he enters the house, he goes straight to the fridge, grabs a beer and slumps down in front of the TV. All of which happened without a word to his wife.
Wife – “Why does he ignore me? Doesn’t he care I’ve been slaving away looking after the kids and with no adult conversation? Don’t I matter any more?” And she storms upstairs with, “You look after the kids!”
Husband – “What did I do? I’ve had a long day at the office, I’m tired and I just wanted a beer to unwind. It’s not easy being the only bread-winner. I’m doing the best that I can. She doesn’t respect me.”
I’m sure that this role play has occurred thousands of times before and no doubt will occur thousands of times again in the future. Each person is feeling the effects of a pressurising, challenging day. The only difference is where the day occurs. Each of us has an Emotional Brain. It’s a powerful force within us but it is by definition emotional. It’s also irrational and selfish. Look back at what each of them said and count how many “I”s are in their words. “I” in the context of perceived injustice is the buzzword of the Emotional Brain. The focus is directed towards the person feeling the injustice and powerful feelings erupt.
It’s not that feeling those things isn’t understandable, however. It’s very understandable. Look at each person’s situation once again. The wife is starved of adult conversation, is at home with the kids providing for their every need and feels unloved and unappreciated by her husband. He, however, is working hard and commuting in difficult circumstances. He’s tired and needs to unwind.
Understandable isn’t acceptable, however. It isn’t acceptable for either of them to react in the way that they did even though it’s understandable. Within both the husband and the wife in this story – and in all of us – is the powerful Emotional Brain and all the feelings stem from its centre. We must learn to manage the Emotional Brain within all of us. How different could it have been? Let’s see:
Picture the scene. Husband comes home from a long day at the office. He’s hot and bothered from a lousy journey home. Before getting out of the car he takes a few deep breaths to help relax. He walks towards the front door breathing deeply. He enters the house and greets his wife with a hug and a kiss. He apologises that he’s hot and bothered and says that he just needs a few moments to get over the day. His children call. “Daddy, come and look what we’ve done!” and he replies, “Just a minutes, kids. Daddy will be in soon. I want a few moments with mummy first.”
Wife – “He really loves and cares for me! He wants to be with me and talk to me. I matter!”
Husband – “I’m hot and tired out from the day. But I need to spend time with my wife first. We need to connect again. She’s had just as hard a day as I have. I’ll be in to see the kids soon.”
If you want to change how the other person reacts towards you, you must look in the mirror. You must see yourself for how you really are. So often, we seek to change the other person when we must seek to change ourselves. We can only change ourselves. Seeking to change ourselves means getting a hold of our Emotional Brain. Instead of the focus being on I need you to the focus is how can I change for you? The Emotional Brain’s selfishness focuses on what it needs. Looking in the mirror helps us see what we need to change to make the situation that we are in better.
Imagine if, in conversations with others (whether in the home, at work and in any situation involving communion with people), we sought to change ourselves and serve them rather seek to change them and get them to serve us? Find a way, today, to change your attitude or thinking in some way for someone else’s benefit.
Do it unconditionally, however. The ‘I will if they will’ won’t get you or them anywhere positive. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully, they will make a change in their attitude and thinking too. But if they don’t change, that’s their choice. It’s your choice too. You don’t have to change yourself. But doing so just might be the catalyst to bring about something quite wonderful. So, go look in the mirror. What can you change about yourself? And remember these excellent words from Eleanor Roosevelt: