“A man’s weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own and not another man’s. They are brought about by himself and not by another; and they can only be altered by himself, never by another. His condition is also his own, and not another man’s. His sufferings and his happiness are evolved from within.” – As A Man Thinketh
How often it is we find ourselves attempting to change someone else’s life. Usually it’s someone close to us — someone we hold near and dear like a spouse, a child or a sibling. Our intentions are generally good and aimed at making life better for someone we care about.
But, oh, how next to impossible it is to control someone else’s life. And so painful!! Wayne Dyer writes that most of our suffering in relationships is tied to the failure of other people to meet our expectations; of them failing to do what we think is right for them (or that satisfies us).
I have been helping my 16-year-old, who will be a high school senior this year, plan for college. My experience and knowledge suggests a path for him that I think best utilizes his talents and gifts. But it is not a path that he wants to pursue — and no amount of persuasion on my part will change that. It is frustrating — and somewhat painful — for me to deal with that. As parents, we always want the best for our children — at least what we think is best.
However, I must allow my son to go down the path he has chosen, with full knowledge that “his condition is his own, and not another man’s.” And that ultimately “his sufferings and his happiness are evolved from within.” While I can offer him advice, my best help will be by becoming the best example I can be of James Allen’s teachings.
We can directly measure our progress down our path by how detached we can become when the direction of another’s life conflicts with what we think is best for them. When we can act with the assurance that they must follow their own path just as we must follow ours, we will have taken a great leap in our personal growth.
Should we have high expectations of those who are close to us? Absolutely! As Denis Waitley says, “Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may not get what you want, but in the long run you will get what you expect.” So how do we handle it when others don’t do as we’d like? In the words of Wayne Dyer, “love them for what they choose to be regardless of your opinion about what they choose.”
And that’s worth thinking about.