Many people have heard Ghandi’s famous quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This quote has influenced my work with individuals and couples a great deal. The adaptation I’ve made to this quote in my practice is, “Be the person you wish to be in a relationship with.” Too often people are so busy trying to change their partner’s behavior that they forget to look at their own.
In relationships — at work, home or out in the world — it behooves each of us to act as we wish others would act with us. If we want to have relationships that are honest, cherishing and respectful, then we’re responsible for being honest, cherishing and respectful. Sometimes, in our upset, we forget that we are still responsible for our actions. Likewise, we can forget that our partner also deserves a caring, loving partner just as we do. We can get so focused on what we want that we forget that we’re responsible for giving, too. We are each responsible for asking for what we want and for giving what we wish to get. Missing either aspect of this requirement will negatively impact our relationships.
This concept is true across the board in all of our relationships. In parenting, if you don’t want your children to yell and be disrespectful to you, then don’t you yell and be disrespectful to them. If at work, you want your co-workers to give you space to talk at meetings and honor your ideas, then you should give them room to speak and honor their ideas. In romance, if you want your partner to share, talk respectfully and treat you with high regard, then you must do the same. If you don’t have the desire, energy, or patience to behave with others as you are asking them to behave with you, then don’t ask it of them.
If you choose to not give it—you don’t have the right to ask for it.
It’s time to shift your focus from analyzing the behaviors of others to looking at your own. Pay attention to the way you behave in relationships and work to become the person you wish to work for, live with or be friends with. When you’re clean on your end and behaving the way you want others to behave, you will be on stronger footing to create change. Get yourself in check before you start trying to get everyone else in check.
Challenge: Take a moment and look at the way you are in your relationships across the board. Honestly ask yourself if you would want to have you as a boss or friend, parent or lover? If there’s a relationship you struggle with, look at your part in that struggle. Would you want to be with you?