01 Dec Are You focusing on changing others instead of yourself?
What is one thing you’ve been trying to change about others that you can shift the focus to yourself?
The ACA serenity prayer is an adaptation to the traditional 12-step prayer. It shows how easy it is for people who come from alcoholic or dysfunctional families to focus on others as a coping skill to disengage from being focused on their own faults. We think we can change others and try our hardest to do so in a means we can; nagging, yelling, snide remarks, making fun of them, criticizing, silent treatment, withdrawal, and other passive-aggressive behavior. None of these actually work long-term and they create a disconnect between us and the person. It also disconnects us from ourselves because we aren’t coming from love, our truest self.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with wanting people to do what I think they should do. Two areas that this shows up big time is in my home environment. At home, I like things to be organized and put away a certain way; it brings me a sense of peace when my environment is comfortable. And there is nothing wrong with that. But when you live with others, you have to realize that everyone has their own way of doing things. They also like their environment a certain way. That doesn’t always gel with yours. How many times have you told your kids to pick up after themselves or grumbled because your partner didn’t take the trash out? This constant battle of wills can be exhausting.
I use this tool to help me bring it back to self when I veer off course. It centers and grounds me. Then I am able to pause and ask myself the tough questions. What is this about? Is it a need for control or something else?
When it comes to the home environment thing I can see two distinct ways my childhood plays a part. For starters, both of my parents are pretty serious about neatness. I didn’t really realize this until my mom stayed with me for the first time years ago. Backstory, in case you don’t know me that well, my mom wasn’t around much when I was younger. I lived with my dad growing up so I didn’t really experience what my mom’s home was like. My stepmom was also exceptionally neat.
As if that isn’t enough to guide my need for things to be tidy and organized, I can trace it back to a need to have control because of childhood struggles. Yep. That pesky childhood trauma. Growing up, life was pretty chaotic. So maintaining a sense of orderliness and control as an adult was a way that I was dealing with unhealed wounds. Trauma work helped reduce the anxiety around needing things to be exactly the way I need them to be. I still struggle with it, but I can catch myself more often.
So next time you want to change someone, take a look in the mirror and have the courage to change yourself.
Who are you focusing too much on changing?