If there is one thing school, family, life and love have taught me, it’s this: You can’t change anyone but yourself.
Time and time again, I’ve caught myself in a frustrated self-dialogue or venting to a friend something along the lines of “why can’t she just…” or “why is he so…” Well, you fill in the blank.
Like any human being, some of the things people do drive me nuts. Likewise, I’m sure many of the things I do drive other people crazy. Sometimes it’s a stranger in one of my classes, and sometimes it’s the people I love most. But being the typical exhausted college student, I’m learning how much energy I could save running my mouth and rather put that into changing my own responses to those bothersome things.
A classic example is when I go home. Let’s just say I’m a bit of a whirlwind at home. I get busy, have a thousand things in my head and leave a mess behind me wherever I go. My mom yells at me about how I never pick up after myself. Now, this makes me angry, especially because when it comes to helping out around the house in general I feel I am quite generous. So instead of changing my actions (working on being tidier), I get angry at her and mutter under my breath in frustration about how she’s always nagging me and doesn’t appreciate me. As hard as it might seem, if I could just get my act together, I think my mom would notice and lighten up, maybe even noticing the other kind deeds I do around the house.
This is even harder, however, when you really aren’t in the wrong. It can be hard to turn the other cheek. Maybe you have a teacher you think is completely unfair, and you make sure to let him know on a regular basis. In return, they see you as a bratty, lazy punk. He might not know how much you have on your plate and how hard you really work. The whole class might think this guy is a crock. But if you decide to change your attitude about it and be respectful, you’d be surprised to see how taken back people are and how their attitudes and actions will be much more likely to change too.
Author Charles Swindoll once said, “The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way….The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.”’
As hard as it can be to change ourselves, I have to say that truer words have never been spoken.