Illusions of Change

I don’t want to change or influence anybody. Seriously. And I know this makes a lot of people, including the few friends I have, scratch their heads in perplexity. After all, I imagine they’d be wondering, why am I travelling the world preaching, teaching, and lecturing?


And if I really don’t care about changing anybody, why in the world do I even bother to write this blog?

The answer is very simple: I preach, teach, lecture, and write for the same reason that I breathe and exhale daily. I do these things, not to influence or change anybody, but simply to express my own personal perspectives on the various issues of life. And this is why I continue to tell visitors, readers, and regular subscribers of this blog not to equate anything I write here with absolute truth; and not to relay them as doctrines to others.

Do people get helped by what I write? Oh, sure! Do some resonate so strongly with my opinions that they get fired up to pursue a certain path? Definitely? Are some inspired to make lifestyle adjustments after reading my personal perspectives of certain issues? Of course! I know because they write to tell me. I get hundreds of these mails weekly. I respond only to very few of them, and have made new friends and built very deep relationships as a result. However, the fact that people are helped or inspired by my expressions is merely an unintended outcome of my daily resolve not to try to influence anybody.

My daily resolve is to express myself with courage and authenticity; to not care about what anyone may think of my personal views, and how they may may judge and relate with me as a result. And whenever I achieve this, whenever I am able to express my deepest thoughts— my most intimate and personal perspectives— I feel free and blissful.

The reason I’ve quit trying to change people is this: I don’t think that anybody can change another person. This is a strictly personal opinion, and you don’t have to agree with it at all. But as I see it, I am who I am, and you are who you are, simply because the One that made us made us so; and there’s little—very little—any of us can do about it.

For instance, think of your gender—something as fundamental to your design as anything can ever be. Can you or anyone change it? Can you or any other person change your gender from say male to female? We all like to think that we have choices, and so we get into all sorts of pride, claiming that we did this or that. Yet, when you really think about it, you begin to realize that the One who designed and built life left us with very little room, if any, to maneuver. Did you get to choose your genes and chromosomes? Did you get to choose who your biological parents would be? Did you get to choose the circumstances and ethnicity of your birth? Did you get to choose who will have the most influence on your most formative years? And if you never got to choose these things, how can you even begin to imagine that any of your so-called choices were actually made by you?

“Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all?”
~ Luke 12:25

If you had no choice in the things— such as your genetic composition, circumstances of birth, ethnicity, and most formative influences— that determine how you will choose for the rest of your life, what other choices do you really have? This is how I see it at the moment. But I can imagine that your perspectives might be different from mine on this, as you might be seeing something I’m not seeing right now. After all, you and I know only in part, right?

In any case, on the issue of change, I have already stated my personal view: I don’t think that anybody can change another person. I don’t even think that anybody can change themselves. However, I think that each person can grow into a more mature version of who they were designed to be —in the same way that an egg becomes a butterfly, and a cub becomes a lion. Nevertheless, I do strongly believe that the One who made each individual reserves the power to re-make them, has done so multiple times in history, and continues to do so today ― albeit under circumstances that are beyond the conscious control of any human being.

I love to learn, and I love to express my thoughts and personal opinions. But one thing I no longer do is to make the slightest attempts to try to change anybody. I don’t even try to change myself. Seriously! I accept myself just the way I am; the way I believe my Maker made and continues to remake me. Then, daily, I give Him thanks for my blessings and my messes. And then I strive to do that with respect to other people.

While I think it’s a waste of time to try to change other people, I see people all around me laboring to alter other people’s behavior. I see this especially in interpersonal relationships: spouses trying to change their significant others; parents trying to manipulate their adult children; grown-ups striving to influence their aging parents. And the more I reflect on this, the more I think that the reason for this pathetic and frustrating situation is that it’s more convenient to try to get the other person to change, rather than make the change in our own selves.

It’s easier—not that it’s possible, mind you— to try to change others than to put the pressure on our own selves. So, we prefer to distract ourselves from our own failures under the illusion of trying to change others. And I think Jesus calls us out on this one:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
~ Luke 6:41-42

In my own experience, I’ve discovered that when I shift from trying to remove the speck of sawdust in my brother’s eye, to trying to take the plank out of my own eye, two things happen:

  1. I become too busy working on my own personal growth and metamorphosis to notice the tiny speck of sawdust in my brother’s eye.
  2. If and whenever I succeed in taking the plank out of my eye, and start to see clearly, I am no longer able to see that speck of sawdust in my brother’s eye! Because what I thought was in his eye was actually projected from my own eye.

Crazy, right?

I know.

So, for instance, instead of trying to get you to change what you think about me, I’ll rather work on getting myself to not care about what you think of me. In other words, I transfer the pressure and challenge of change from you to me. And yet, when I achieve this, I have not really changed at all; I have simply realized my in-built potential to disregard your opinion. This, in my view, is metamorphosis, not change.

Rather than throw tantrums at how you treat me, in the hope of manipulating you to change, I prefer to move myself—in thought and body—beyond the reach of your behaviour. In other words, I either develop my inherent capacity to ignore you, or exercise my freedom to disconnect from you. By doing so, I’m merely acknowledging your freedom to be who you are, as well as enjoying my own freedom to be me. And so far, I’ve found this approach to lead to tremendous peace and bliss.

Have a blissful week!