“The goal is to lead them to trust their own instincts.”
Disclaimer: This article was written for helping loved ones who are in tough or potentially dangerous situations. Please do not try to change everybody’s mind. Everybody is an individual entity, and nobody needs to conform to your version of reality.
Trying to change someone else’s mind is one of the most difficult things to do. The reason for this is in the phrase itself.
You are trying to change somebody else’s mind.
As human beings, we only have control over what we say and do. You can only successfully change your own mind.
However, it’s understandable to want the best for the people we care about. In the case of a friend staying in an abusive relationship or giving up on their health, it can be frustrating to stand aside.
More often than not, people have a gut feeling that tells them when something is not right.
Your friend with the toxic boyfriend probably knows on some level that he isn’t the love of her life, but because everyone is telling her to leave him, she’s rationalizing all the reasons to stay. Your friend whose unhealthy diet is creating health problems knows that he has to start working out, but there is a mental barrier in the way.
The goal is to lead them to trust their own instincts. We cannot create a mindset for them to follow, but we can strengthen the mindset that they create.
To change someone’s mind, you have to stop trying so hard.
Say what you believe and leave it there.
If you have said all that you need to say, there is no point in reiterating it over and over again. They heard you, they just need some time to process your words.
The more you push a certain viewpoint onto another person, the more likely it is that they will become defensive and retract into their previous way of thinking again.
How to help:
Listen more than you give advice. Be a supportive, honest presence in their life.
It’s frustrating, especially when you think you are right or when you see a clear path out.
At the end of the day, it’s not your life. Be there and wait patiently for your loved one to progress in their thinking.
Don’t make them feel stupid.
There is a difference between tough love and moral superiority. By telling someone what to do and insisting that they are in the wrong, well-intentioned advice can feel like an attack.
Allow yourself to give advice only when prompted. Restrain yourself from sharing your unsolicited opinion, even if it’s coming from a good place.
Someone who holds a flawed mindset or is in a complicated situation needs to figure out how to change their situation by themselves.
“As human beings, we will not truly believe something until we actually discover it for ourselves.” — Bob Proctor
How to help:
Strengthen the thoughts that will benefit your loved one, but do not try to enforce anything upon them.
As much as you might care about someone, if you have said your part, leave it at that and give the other person time. Pushing any more could result in them going even deeper down the hole you believe they are in.
Embody your advice.
If you are trying to convince your friend to leave their toxic boyfriend, you cannot be in a similar type of relationship.
If you are trying to help your friend get into better shape, don’t eat fast food and sweets around him.
How to help:
Be the example. Show them the results of your advice instead of suffocating them with your words.
As much as we want the best for the people in our lives, it is almost always impossible to change someone’s mind.
However, there are ways to guide them towards what you believe.
Give your friend your opinion when prompted, and be gentle about it. Not everyone is a willing recipient of tough love. Instead of telling them what to do, rephrase your words in the form of a suggestion. Finally, embody this advice in your own life, and set the example.
Adapt these techniques when you face a challenging situation with a loved one, and be patient. Change happens slowly, especially when you have no control over it.