“I Can Change Him/Her”…Wanna Bet

Jun 15, 2011 by

“I Can Change Him/Her”…Wanna Bet

Lordy, lordy, lordy, when will we learn we can’t change others, even if they ask for our help. This is all the more impossible – if there’s something more impossible than impossible – when someone has not asked for your help.

Victoria Rowell (b. 1959), actress, dancer and mother of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’ son, used her inner wisdom to learn a lesson from a bad experience. She wrote: “Once a mouse I was rescuing bit my finger, drawing blood. In that simple experience, I learned that I could not save everything, and that everything didn’t want to be rescued. It would take me many years to apply this lesson to people.

This isn’t to say you can’t help others. It is to say, you can only help others when they are open to your suggestions, and when they are willing to do the inner work to change. History, and probably your life, has proven that.

For example, First Lady Betty Ford (b.1918) wrote about her own path: “I’ve often said I’d lost my feeling of self-worth, and that’s what sent me for help [for her alcohol addiction].”

man painting people redIt was not the nagging or the helping hands extended to her that sent her for help. It was her realization she had lost her self worth. She realized something about herself she didn’t like. Then that led her to work with suggestions from family and professionals.

Trying to change another is as ludicrous as you eating six meals a day, three for you and three for the other person. And, then expecting the other person to feel full.

So fill yourself up with new knowledge to help you. At the very least, it will make you feel good; at the very most, it will be an example for open-minded others to realize if you did it, so can they.


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  1. naomi

    Oh Rochelle!

    Soooo soooooooo true!

    The magic word is so definitely, “inner work! ”


  2. …and good words from you Donna:-) We can always, and should, live up to our stated values. In that way we show others what can be done – decently. But, whether they are peers, elders, children, they will ultimately choose – just as we choose who we become:-)

  3. So glad John you are in a good place now. You are an example to others of the message here. Be well dear friend and keep contributing your wisdom:-)

  4. I have often referred to my alcoholism as a character defect that overwhelmed all of the other defects that my body carried around. Although I had outside the family support when I decided to quit drinking, it was the encouragement of my wife that brought about the end of booze in our lives. You are absolutely right Rochelle, a person who does not want to change their lifestyle or habits cannot be made to change even to the point of death. Pretty strong emotional structure supports some people to the point of self destruction but if the light ever dawns in their head that they can heal themselves with the help of others, then the path out of that dangerous forest is clear. JWSIII

  5. Donna Morask

    While it’s true we cannot change others, we can light the way to another path if they are interested in finding a new way, as you so aptly pointed out in this blog. I spent many years attempting to “save” a friend from herself, by pointing out her self destructive patterns and actions. This only made her draw away from me. To this day I don’t know if she ever found another path, but it was not for me to change.

    Now that I’ve spent twice as many years on the planet, as compared to that time period, I have learned the following; to lead by example, quietly and without fanfare, to strike the match to offer momentary illumination without carrying the torch, and finally, to let your light shine so others may follow if they choose. Good words Rochelle, and inspiring.