Give People a Break When They’re Trying to Change

Hands by Penny MathewsIf you’ve ever had a bad habit or some type of behavior you’ve wanted to change, you know that it’s not easy. But what I’ve found from both personal experience and from talking to others is that making the change isn’t the hardest part – it’s convincing the people around you that you’re trying to change and blocking out their negative feedback.

Sometimes, their skepticism is valid – if you’ve tried to change in the past and didn’t follow through, you start running into to the same perceptions that plagued the boy who cried wolf. But sometimes others just don’t have faith in you and when that’s the case, you have two choices. You can either let their lack of confidence affect your own confidence or you can ignore it. While the obvious choice is the latter, the former is unfortunately the path more frequently taken.

That’s why it’s important to support people who are trying to change – especially if they’ve failed in the past. Change is tough so if you truly care about the person, you need to be supportive of their efforts despite how you feel deep down inside. Telling them things like “this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that” when they’re trying to become a better person helps no one and often is the quickest way to get the person to give up.

The person trying to change is making an effort and already has a challenge to overcome, so that’s where you need to be supportive. And when they face that first obstacle or that first setback, don’t give up on them – that’s when they need your help the most. Telling someone that you have no faith in them following through or reminding them that they haven’t been successful in the past will only discourage them.

So the next time someone tells you that they’re turning over a new leaf or trying to change a habit or behavior, encourage them – especially if you care about them. If you don’t have confidence in them, then do your best to keep your feelings to yourself. Or even better, give them that extra push and help them out so they can reach their goals.

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