When others don’t change
Seeing folks around you stuck in patterns that don't serve life, can stimulate a bundle of frustration and grief. You'd really like for people to see what doesn't work and make the change sooner than later. You'd like both of you to be able to enjoy the results of living from greater awareness, wisdom, and compassion.
When you make a change for the better, it's easy for the should jackals to come in and say, "Hey, I made this change. They should be able to do it as well." It's easy to forget all the little things that you did and experienced that got you where you are now. It didn't happen overnight. It's painful to see people stuck in patterns and know there is an easier and better way. You think to yourself, "If only s/he would change . . ."
There are a couple of important things to remember here. You can offer lots of empathy and honest expression and if you do so with the purpose of changing another s/he will sense that and invariably resist. After the survival needs, autonomy is the first need people protect. People change most easily when they are experiencing love and acceptance.
Your work then, isn't to change others. It is to look into your heart and see if you want to connect even when they are not changing and regardless of whether they ever change or not. Whether you choose to connect or not, your next step is to allow yourself to mourn the needs not met as this person stays stuck. Just to let yourself feel the grief of seeing suffering without resisting the fact of your inability to change it for that person, this is the practice of staying connected to your heart.
Over the years this has been an intense practice for me with my family. I get the opportunity to help so many people, but my family members aren't jumping up to receive help from me (at least not in the way I think they "should"). I have experienced so much grief and frustration wishing for their well-being and wanting them to change. I just returned yesterday from visiting several family members in Colorado. I got to experience the fruits of the practice of letting go of trying to change them. My ability to stay present, enjoy them, enjoy myself, and feel an exchange of love was greater than it ever has been. I came home nourished rather than exhausted as I have in the past. I look forward to continuing to relax into more layers of acceptance and experiencing the richness this brings.
Take a moment now to reflect. Is there anyone in your life you are trying to change? Can you access the desire to connect even when they don't change? Can you allow yourself to mourn in the face of the suffering of others? Can you find your way to accepting their path and trusting something larger to guide them?