Sometimes in my line of work I get to have a really good giggle to myself.
I imagine one (or many!) of my ex-boyfriends from years ago, browsing the internet (as we all do from time to time), looking up people they used to know and seeing what they're up to these days.
I imagine them happening upon my Facebook profile, Linked In Profile, or seeing one of my videos on Youtube.
I giggle to myself when I imagine the looks on their face as they exclaim, "She does WHAT now?!"
If you have read my story (click here if you haven't and want to find out how I got here) you'll know that my relationship history hasn't exactly been smooth, or easy.
I've said it once, and I'll say it again, at various times in my past I've made every relationship mistake you can imagine. Some I've made once, some I've made twice, most of them I made over and over and over again.
You see, when I need to learn a lesson, I like to make sure I learn it REALLY well ;)
Everything I've experience in the past informs not just who I am today, but the work I do as well.
I can tell you that if most of the men I've dated in the past met me today, they would barely recognise the woman looking back at them.
Over the past years I've not just changed, I've transformed. I've grown, I've learned, I've stumbled, I've got up and learned some more.
I've taken every painful relationship experience, as well as every wonderful one, and I've used it to teach me about the kind of woman I want to be, the kind of relationship I want to create...and even more, how I could go ahead and make that a reality.
The relationship I have today bears very little resemblance to those of my past, but without the relationships of my past I wouldn't have known what to do (and probably more importantly what not to do!) to get to where I am today.
So the question I asked is, can people really change?
The answer, without question is yes.
...and this is quite a big but...
...they have to want to change. It has to come from them.
I was told, time and time again about the mistakes I was making. Not just from the men I dated (though they did point out errors on occasion!), but from the experiences I was having.
All I needed to do was to take a look at what was happening in those relationship to know that something wasn't right.
But I didn't see it. I didn't WANT to see it. I thought I was right, and I was going to continue doing things the way I did them, regardless of the consequences.
It took many relationship mistakes, and many relationship breakdowns for me to realise for myself that something was wrong...and that I was the common denominator.
Don't get me wrong, as I've said in previous articles and episodes of LPPTV, every situation in every relationship is co-created by two people. It's never just one person's fault. But I had to face responsibility for my part in the situations I was finding myself in.
...and finally I was ready to change. Finally I was ready to listen and learn. Finally I wanted something different for myself badly enough to do things in a different way.
It didn't matter how many times someone had pointed out to me that my way could use a little 'adjusting'(!), I had to want to change in order for change to really happen for me.
The challenge in relationships is that quite often we get into a habit in relationships of focusing our attention on where the other person should change, not on our own part.
I was very good at pointing out to my partners (yes, I do cringe now when thinking about it!) where they were doing things wrong, why I was right, and how they should change their behaviours.
But as I learned through first hand experience, the more you try to change someone, the more they want to stay exactly as they are.
By trying to change someone you're inadvertently saying to them 'you're not good enough as you are'.
When you make someone feel that they're not good enough, you drive a wedge between yourself and them, and they are likely to go into one of two modes: Protect & defend, or attack.
Neither of these is conducive to a great relationship because, in either scenario, you become the enemy.
...and if you do succeed in changing them, it often comes at a cost to your relationship together.
On the other hand, the more that you accept them as they are, the more they're likely to be open to new ways of thinking and doing things.
In any relationship, the best way to affect change is to inspire it. By being the change you want to see in others.
If they're not taking responsibility for their part in a challenge in your relationship, first check to make sure that you're taking responsibility for yours.
If they're not supporting you the way that you want to be supported, check to see that you're supporting them in the way that they want to be supported.
If they don't understand you, first make the effort to understand them.
The more I've become the kind of woman I want to be, both in and out of a relationship, the man in my life has become even more of the kind of man that I really appreciate...and he was pretty amazing to begin with!
So if something isn't clicking quite the way you'd like it to in your relationship, my first suggestion is to look at yourself. If you want to change how your partner is doing things, first look to see if you can change how you're doing things.
Then allow them space to change, if and when they choose to, in their own time.
...and if there are any ex-partners of mine reading this article, I'd like to both apologise and say thank you. Sorry for the part I played in creating the challenges in our relationship. Sorry for any hurt or pain I caused through my actions, or inaction. Thank you for the time we shared together, it has helped me to become the woman I am today....and it continues to help my clients and audience around the world. I truly hope that your life is a happy one, and that you learned and benefited as much from our time together as I did.
So now I'd like to hear from you. What are your experiences of this? Have you changed from the person you were in the past? Have you ever wanted or tried to change someone else? How did it work out for you? Have you had any questions or comments that have come up as a result of reading this?
...and if you liked this article, please share it using the buttons below!
Finally, if you'd like some free tips and advice on how to improve your relationship situation, pop over here now and check out our free video series "The First Steps to Transforming Any Relationship"
Wishing You Love,