The following article from Oprah.com explains how caring less leads to loving more. Byron Katie offers the same wisdom. When we try to change people, they simply cannot feel our pressure to change as love. Even if we are doing it in the name of love. As Martha Beck affirms, “Love is pure acceptance.”
If we can learn to accept our loved ones just as they are, our families and intentional communities will flourish. One caveat: I do not mean that abusive family members may abuse you. Accepting that they are abusive is not the same as accepting abuse. You may walk away. I love tigers, as an example of dangerous beings, but I keep bars between us.
I remember one intentional community struggling over a member who would not attend meetings. They did everything in their power to change his behavior. Even though he could accept the consequences of not attending a meeting, such as not having a say in what happens, they could not accept his decision. He was a fine member in every other way. They needed clarity as to what the real purpose was in insisting upon his attendance.
Most of the time, if we are clear and truthful with ourselves, we will see that our lives aren’t really impacted by what the other person is doing. In that community’s case, they just wanted the member to follow all the rules, because they had made them. In groups, there is often a tendency to insist that everyone do and believe the same thing. I suspect this tendency is what makes individuals drop out of groups or leave small towns. So it’s a beautiful thing when a group can allow it’s members maximum freedom to express their own nature, while still finding creative ways to cooperate.
…Shift Your Focus from Controlling Your Loved One’s Behavior to Creating Your Own Happiness
When I make this suggestion to my clients, they tend to take umbrage. “I always focus on creating my own happiness!” they insist. “That’s precisely why I’m trying to get my grandchildren to visit, and my cat to stop biting, and Justin Bieber to engage with me in a mutually rewarding exchange of personal e-mails!”
Best of luck with that. Because as AA or any other 12-step group will tell you, sanity begins the moment you admit you’re powerless over other people. This is the moment you become mentally free to start trying new ideas, building new relationships, experimenting to see what situations feel better than the hopeless deadlock of depending on change from someone you can’t control.