A quick search for “self-help books” on Amazon.com brings up 204,717 results. Granted many may be repeats, but there are also many that aren’t on the list at all. Just for comparison, I also searched “how to help others” which brought up 39,025 results, many of which were actually parenting books or self-help books. Some were books for “Life Coaches” who only work with people who come to them with a willingness to change. Still, when self help is so prominent in our society, the idea of changing is something that people are very hesitant to do – especially if the need for the change was pointed out by someone else.
We agree that change “for someone else” is not a safe bet on a lifetime of happiness. But, we also believe that working on yourself should lend itself to constant growth and change in your life – for the better. So, when someone points out something about you that they think you should change, when is that change a good idea for you and when might the suggestion be a sign that this isn’t the relationship for you?
Conversations with clients often get around to the question of “changing for” someone. We categorize three types of change: Inconsequential changes, Self improvement and Sacrifices. No matter the source of your realization that something can be improved, each person has to determine into which category any potential change fits.
1. The first kind of change is what we call inconsequential changes include changes that are simple and relatively meaningless to you. If you often say “shut up” when you aren’t angry but just want the person to take note, and the person you are dating doesn’t like it, this is an inconsequential change. If your mate prefers that you wear or not wear your hair one way over another and you don’t really care either way, that is an inconsequential change. If you usually read yourself to sleep in bed and your mate can’t sleep with the light on and asks you to read in the other room, that is an inconsequential change.
2. The second kind of change is what we call self – improvement changes include things that, even if they were brought to your attention by the person you are in a relationship with or through your shidduch somehow, you want to change because you believe it will make you a better person. This includes things like limiting gossip or cursing, drinking less (if you drink too much) or being a little more sensitive to others.
The test is to ask yourself, “If we were to break up today, would I continue the work I’m doing in these areas?”
3. The last category of change is sacrifice. These are parts of ourselves that we like, but essentially kill off in order to keep the mate we have. This could be a career path, a personality trait that we are proud of, or even our way of dressing if we feel it expresses who we are. If something you are changing fits into this category, you would revert back to the way you were before if you broke up with this person today. THESE ARE THE CHANGES TO BE WARY OF. AS SOON AS THE HONEYMOON IS OVER, YOU ARE AT RISK OF FEELING ANGRY OR RESENTFUL OF YOUR MATE FOR “MAKING” YOU CHANGE IN THESE WAYS. MAYBE WORSE, YOU COULD REVERT BACK TO YOUR OLD WAYS AFTER YOUR MATE HAS MARRIED THE CHANGED YOU. THIS CAN CAUSE DISILLUSIONMENT OR RESENTMENT IN BOTH OF YOU AND IS A DANGEROUS CHANGE TO MAKE.
If you have questions about a change you are considering or any relationship issue (whether you are in on or not, feel free to be in touch with us at info@BetterShidduchim.com or schedule a shidduch schmooze through our website, www.BetterShidduchim.com.