The Inexhaustible Wish for Others to Change

The Inexhaustible Wish for Others to Change Have you felt it too? It is strong, isn’t it? And repeatedly we are being told by wise men and women that we should change ourselves not the people around us.

I believe in that too. Only sometimes I think it can be overrated in the sense that I confuse it with something else: setting some limitations in order to protect myself (self-defense).

Let me give you an example. I used to be exposed to two negative people that I had to visit often. Or at least I thought I had to visit them often, because they told me so and made me feel guilty, if I skipped regular dates. They were negative in the sense that they were pessimistic and used to complain a lot. I was trying to change in several ways:
– Trying to accept them the way they are.
– Trying not to take them seriously.
– Trying not to remember what they had said.

I was also trying to change them:
– Trying to cheer them up with jokes.
– Trying to show them the optimistic side of their stories.

Unfortunately none of the above techniques really worked. I was getting more and more exhausted. When I ended up in the emergency room for stomach cramps for the third time, I decided something had to be done. Medical examinations showed no stomach wounds or anything else wrong in the belly, meaning the cramps were psychosomatic.

I decided the two people were simply too much for me. One of them I simply stopped seeing. The other one is a relative, hence cannot be put entirely out of the equation. I stopped seeing the relative for 2 months, which was enough for me to get some emotional distance. After that I see that relative less often and stay there for a shorter period of time. I also do not contradict the person’s pessimistic views, for this only makes the situation worse. In other words I am there, but I try to be distant and I do not talk much. Consequently I also do not remember the sad stories that well.

A year later, my stomach is better and I do not feel guilty anymore for having taken care of myself. Of course I have been using the Phyllis Krystal method to help me cope with the situation all along.

What is your experience with negative people?

Take care,
Helena Smole, author of Balancing the Beast, a book offering a bright view of schizoaffective disorder ˗ bipolar or manic-depressive type

Leave a Reply