When I point out to clients–who feel responsible for their children, mates, siblings and parents–that they are only responsible for doing their part in relationships, they initially think I’m trying to give them a pass. Nope. Doing your part means handling your own stuff, confronting your own delusions and changing your behavior. This is hard enough without adding the need to change someone else.
I’m fully aware that the other person may be making scary, bad choices.
You still don’t have any authority or ability to make them behave differently. If you love the other person, watching them make mistakes and confront realities you’d like them to avoid can bring a whole other kind of pain. It’s really hard not to interfere, but doing so only creates conflict between you and the other adult. Try to remember, their adult status is based on age, not behavior. You don’t get to determine that because “he isn’t acting like an adult” the adult rules don’t apply to him.
I’m often faced with clients who want me to change the other person. Lots of people are brought in for this purpose, as if I had a magic wand to wave over them and make them straighten up! I’m quick to point out that I don’t have that power and neither does anyone else besides the individual. Of course, if you’re in a relationship with that person, you have way more impact–power–than you know, but that power rests almost exclusively in you making changes to how you’re handling things.
Talking AT the other person just makes them want to avoid you…even if you’re later proven to be right or right-ish.
You are not responsible for the actions or feelings of others, but confronting and changing your behavior is challenging and complicated. I have no doubt that you can to it, though. You just need a little perspective and some suggestions on how to accomplish it. The hardest part will be giving up what you’ve always seen as your ability to change the other person(s). Being responsible for other people is a great burden, but its also really hard to sit back and see them mess up their lives(your perspective) when you have so much to say.