Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

September 1, 2015

The Enduring Question: What If They Won't Change?

The Enduring Question: What If They Won't Change?


How can you change it! When u have done all that's possible?

This response to a post I wrote some years ago caught my attention. I'm often asked this question or something like it, and I've struggled with it as well in my practice and my life.

  • What if they won't change, regardless of my efforts?
  • Why am I always the one who has to change?
  • What if you can't change the situation, but you can't leave it either?
  • When you've done everything you can do, what then?

When you change...

When you've done all that's possible to change a situation, person, or problem, that's all you can do, and it's best to stop trying. This may sound defeatist. And... the real power is in changing you--your position, attitude, or response, because ...

  • People won't change unless they want to, unless there's a benefit. 
  • You're the one to change, because you're the one with the skill to do so. If they could do things differently, they would. 
  • If you can't--or rather choose not to--leave a situation that is difficult, your choices are to cope or complain. In a workplace setting, for example, you may wisely choose to stay working for a challenging boss for financial reasons. And you do what's necessary to maintain a healthy relationship.
  • When you've done everything you can, stop, center, and learn from the situation. People tell me change-in-the-fieldall the time that when they stopped trying to change the other person, the other person changed by themselves. I think it's because they sense a change in the field. They no longer feel the push or pull and they can change because they want to, not because they have to.

Trying not to change someone--in fact realizing you can't--and holding that space from center may feel like you're suspended in mid-air, not knowing, just taking one breath at a time, one step at a time, relinquishing control. As challenging as it may be, this is a place of learning and growth. Being comfortable with discomfort, as my yoga teacher says.

When you change, everything changes. When you stop trying to change the situation--the situation may change. At the least, it's likely to stop bothering you.

In the meantime, here's another post on the topic: What If They Don't Want to Resolve The Conflict?

Question: What do you do when faced with unchangeable situations and people?

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