My mantra is “Know Yourself. Love Yourself. Be Yourself.” These are three key themes of my presentations, designed to guide parents, educators employers, self-advocates and others on the path to progress.
If there was one thing I learned from my past relationships, it is that you cannot change another person. The only person that you can change is yourself. I learned that relationships have a better chance of working out when both partners remain true to their “inner selves” (like their spirit, core, or values) yet realize they can also grow, adjust to a partner or meet someone halfway without selling out!
Some people think that they are fine the way they are, they don’t have to change at all, and if you don’t accept that, too bad. This kind of thinking can really get in the way of a relationship, whether you are talking about family relationships, friendship or romance. The point of a relationship is to love the other person just for who he/she is deep down, and have that kind of love returned.
Words like balance or give-and-take describe the reasonable things we can do to be a good sibling/friend/partner. I am talking about kindness, a very highly valued relationship trait. You can be kind and do things a little bit differently without changing who you are down deep. Examples include sharing, taking turns and being patient. Being generous goes a long way to let someone know you care about them. It is a win-win when they do the same for you.
Things are going well when you bring out the best instead of the worst in each other. One relationship red flags is spending time, energy and resources to hide who you are and, instead, attempt to impress someone. This can be very draining and does not usually turn out very well! If you do all the adjusting and your partner doesn’t meet you halfway, there’s another red flag.
I’ve heard that people change for two reasons: they learn enough that they want to, or they hurt enough that they have to. You can certainly suggest a course of action or area for growth to someone, but the final decision to change must be theirs and theirs alone. Case in point, when I wanted to have a girlfriend and wanted to know what girls find attractive, my younger sister informed me that girls like a guy that keeps clean, has a job, knows how to cook, dance, etc. This new knowledge enabled and motivated me to make a change for the better for myself. I was still myself, but a cleaner, more attractive version of myself who I also liked! On your path to self-discovery I hope you will find the balance between growth and being true to yourself.