You Can Only Change Yourself

You Can Only Change Yourself

by Linda-Ann Stewart

Many years ago, I was in a relationship with someone who took me for granted. On a 100-degree day in May, I waited outside in the shade for an hour for him to come meet me. When he finally arrived, he had a great excuse. After a couple of similar incidents, I realized it was a pattern, and made a different decision. I couldn’t change him or control his actions, but I could certainly change how it affected me and my actions.

The only person you can truly change is yourself. When someone treats you with less than respect, you can go into victim mode and feel helpless, or you can choose a more empowered way to respond to it.

You may have a co-worker who lives to criticize, a boss who micromanages, an adult child who is self-destructive, or an abusive spouse. All of these are difficult situations and relationships. If you could fix them easily, they would already be resolved. But it’s not about fixing, it’s about responding to them in a different way.

1. Love yourself. Love yourself enough not to sacrifice your well being to their insensitivity. The Universe doesn’t want you hurt in this way. Have compassion for yourself and for them. They have their own connection to their inner selves and don’t need you to cater to their demands. If your best friend were having the same experience you are, what would you suggest they do?

2. Take your power back. You aren’t at their mercy. How long are you going to let them control your feelings? There are things you can do to circumvent their inconsiderate treatment of you. Some of these strategies take action on your part. When one person changes in a relationship, the dynamics of the relationship change. The other person sometimes changes as a result. Or they can escalate their demands and abuse to try to force you back into the familiar role. But taking back your power puts you into a pro-active rather than re-active position.

3. Change the way you think about it. It’s not about them. It’s about you and your well being. You aren’t the target. They’re doing what they are because they’ve gotten away with it for so long. Nobody has held them accountable for their actions. They may act this way to feel powerful, or for some other reason. But their excuse isn’t important. No matter what you do, it’ll never be enough for them.

Sometimes, you can’t just tell them to take a hike. It may be counter-productive to your bank account or downright dangerous to confront them. There are many resources on how to deal with bullies, difficult or toxic people. Search for them and find techniques that will work for you. The bottom line is, how can you deal with them while taking care of yourself?

A year after the first incident with my then boyfriend, I was once again waiting outside in the heat for him to meet me. However, this time, after twenty minutes, I left. When he called me later, he had a great excuse again.

“That’s fine,” I said. “But in the future, I’ll only wait fifteen to twenty minutes. If you don’t show up, I’ll leave.” He argued with me, rationalized his actions, but I held firm. I wasn’t going to be left outside twiddling my thumbs and risking heatstroke again.

The choice was his. Either meet me when he said he would, or I’d leave. Simple. I let him know what the consequences of his decisions would be and followed through on it. Interestingly enough, after he did it one more time and I carried out my promise, he never made me wait again. I didn’t change him at all. All that changed was the way he treated me.


I let go of trying to change other people, and concentrate on my own beliefs and behaviors. Everyone has the same access to their own power and inner self. I love myself enough to care for my well being and allow others to do the same. I am now in charge of my feelings, and know that I have the power to make positive changes in my life. I’m Divinely guided to the best way to constructively cope with difficult people while taking care of myself.

Copyright 2011 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

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