Why You Need To Stop Trying To Change People

For those of you who don’t know the story of the scorpion and the frog – allow me to enlighten you. A scorpion needed to cross a river, so he approached a frog to ask for help. The frog denied him, saying “Why should I trust you? You could easily sting me.”

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The scorpion assured the frog he would be safe because if he were to sting the frog during their trip, they would both drown. The frog, figuring this made sense, agreed to transport the scorpion. Half way across the river, the scorpion stung the frog, and they began to sink.

When the frog asked why, the scorpion replied, “Because it’s in my nature…”

This raises the question – can people really change, even if they want to? I believe there are certain aspects of a person’s nature that are instilled in them, but I also believe that you can create yourself, as well as the reality around you.

If you are trying to change someone who doesn’t want to be changed, you are fighting an uphill battle. One of the hardest things in life is to want better for someone you care about, when they don’t want it for themselves.

I can relate to the innate urge to always want to help others, but there is a tipping point where you get diminishing returns, meaning you’re putting so much effort into trying to help someone else, you are actually hurting yourself.

 

How many painstaking heart-to-hearts do you have with someone, virtually to the point of tears, where you are waiting for them to snap into the person you want them to be? Where you are looking for a spark to light up within them and they finally accept your words into their heart and change? Will they, ever?

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This is a fine line to walk, and terribly conflicting to the individual trying to do the helping. There is no easy answer, some people just don’t (won’t) listen, and you’ll have to accept that they need to learn on their own. It is not your job to change them.

I fully believe we should all live our lives trying to help and support others – but only until it begins to hinder your own progress. Some people just are not in a position to love. They are not in a position to accept the light you can offer them into their life, and the harsh reality is – there’s nothing you can do about it.

To continue to try to change a person so they will want to be with you, or to treat you better, or to love you, is to willingly become the frog.

Consider the story. Is either character really to blame? The frog was doing his best to help another, even though he knew he was taking a risk. The scorpion made a promise but could not keep it because of his unchangeable nature. Can either be blamed, or must they just be sympathized for? In theory, their intentions were good, but that does not always mean the result will be.

There comes a time where each of us has to decide when to cut the chain anchoring us to negative people in our lives. This means change, and change is hard. Change is hard because we think we are losing something (usually people) from our lives – but in reality, you’re just discovering who is meant to stay, and who is meant to go.

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Don’t be the frog that falls for the scorpion. Be there for someone, support them, and help them where you can. Maybe someday you will inspire them change and become better. But if it happens, it will be because they decided to.

Care for others, but live for yourself.

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10 thoughts on “Why You Need To Stop Trying To Change People

  1. I read your blog post “Defending women doesn’t make you less of a man” and was going to forward it to my ex husband and recommend that he sign up to follow your blog, with hopes that SOMETHING would resonate with him and CHANGE HIM for the benefit of our children…then I read this post 🙂
    I learned the very hard way that people WILL NOT change if they don’t want to. 10 years ago, my husband at the time and I started with marriage counseling. Through counseling I realized that the way I was operating was very unhealthy on my part and I wanted to change that, so I did. I have spent the last 10 years immersing myself in personal growth and it has lead me to where I am today, a thriving holistic health coach, Reiki master and a beautiful life. I’ve not arrived, that’s for sure, I still have plenty to learn and will always be on a path of growth. My ex husband had the SAME, EXACT OPPORTUNITIES that I had and he’s in the same exact place that he was the day I met him. For his own reasons, He doesn’t want to change and hasn’t and it won’t happen until he’s ready. To your point, this is true for everyone. As always, great post!

  2. Good, but I disagree with your last statement. You should care for others BECAUSE you’re NOT living for yourself. That’s what truly loving is about. Now, I don’t think that means you should try and change someone who is clearly not interested in changing. However, you leave them, not because you’re looking out for yourself, but because it’s more loving to them not to remain as a crutch for their actions. Only then do they have the chance of realizing that perhaps, they were wrong. Or not. Either way, you should be doing it out of an attempt to help them, not because you’re motivated purely by self-interest.

  3. Hi James,

    Let me start off by saying that I truly appreciate and deeply enjoy reading all of your blog posts. I don’t usually email “famous” individuals, but today in my search for thanking someone personally I couldn’t help but think of you. Thank you for your honesty, thank you for challenging us to love ourselves and then the people around us, and thank you for sharing your thoughts with the rest of us.

    I hope the best part of your day is knowing how loved and appreciated you are!

    Sending you a huge hug and kiss and many blessings all the way from El Paso, TX –

    XO- Ale Montalvo

    • Ale, thanks so much for your amazing comment! I am far from famous, even when it is in quotation marks!

      Your words here are the exact reason why I keep writing the things I do. The appreciation you’ve exhibited for the time I’ve taken to put this website together is priceless and cannot be replaced. The best part of my day, now, certainly has been reading these great sentiments from you and I will continue to carry them with me.

      Thanks again, and please feel free to reach out anytime. 🙂

      All the best,

      – James

  4. Reblogged this on A random collective and commented:
    Many times i find myself as the frog more so than the scorpion (how ironic, eh?), which makes me wonder if kindness really does kill you in the end. Every time this happens, I feel like i drew the short end of the stick. Can people truly change (for the better)? I wonder if i am just being a fool in believing the good in people, or am i being too expectant of people to reciprocate kindness with kindness.

    Then again, my mother would often remind me, it’s ok to feel bad, just don’t make it stop you from being kind. Regardless of what happens.

    • The key to not feeling this way, in my experience, is to be kind and love without motivation. For me personally, this has been VERY liberating and has attracted people into my life that DO appreciate my kindness and love. It’s very important to have boundaries too, which can be done out of kindness and love.

    • I think a very important statement that James made is: “I fully believe we should all live our lives trying to help and support others – but only until it begins to hinder your own progress.” If we are nurturing people, the lack of response or change should not make us selfish or uncaring however there comes a point when we have to not allow others to put us in self-destruction mode. Those people continue complacent while we slowly sink to a place we don’t deserve to be in. We must rise above!

  5. Pingback: 5 Tips To Stop Dating ‘Fixer-Upper’ Guys | James Michael Sama

  6. I have been in 2 serious relationships. One with an NA addict who went to meeting cause I threaten to leave. She later became so involved with healing herself the core of our relationship got denied and she left me to pursue her steps in program. Isn’t that reverse mode. Helped and got it the end. 2nd relationship could not stop enabling her parents, yes she raised them it turned to be.. Married her too.. She became so frustrated with parents once we married she stared taking it out on me and my family.. Always making wrong relations hi decisions 44 years old. I look back and realize since 22 have been in bad relationships. My daughters mom cheated on me with co worker didn’t even include her in this.. I came pick them I tell yah..

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