Common sense tells us that in order to get something different, you have to do something different. Doing the same thing produces the same result. This principle also applies to thinking and believing. If you continue to think and believe the way you have in the past, you will continue to experience the same results of these thoughts and beliefs.
To get a different result, you have to change the way you think and believe.
One of life’s greatest gifts is that the power to do and change lies within each of us. We are agents unto ourselves. Personal change does not depend upon the actions of someone else.
Sadly though, many people believe it does. In doing so, they surrender their power to change to the false belief that change in others will produce the result they seek.
A client and his wife had lived for 23 years in the home of his elderly father-in-law. They paid the mortgage even though the title was in the father-in-law’s name and he was not dependent on them. This housing dynamic was the root of nearly all their marital discord.
The wife believed she would inherit the house when her father passed away because of the support she had given. My client was not convinced because she had three sisters. He resented living in someone else’s house.
He fought constantly with his father-in-law. His wife was torn between supporting her husband and not offending her father. My client viewed her indecision as her choosing her father over him.
For years, he had wanted to move into a house of their own. She would stall by saying, “things will get better.”
My client had grown increasingly resentful of his wife for not doing anything to improve the situation and initiate a change. “After all,” he would ask, “can’t she see what this is doing to our marriage?”
He was holding her responsible for making a change in their living situation to appease him.
After some discussion on this matter, we came to the conclusion that he had three options:
1) He and his wife could move out. (He was convinced she would not support this.)
2) His father-in-law could move out and live with one of his other daughters.
3) He and his wife could stay in the house, stop fighting the issue, and accept that nothing would change.
My client realized the third option was not acceptable–something had to change or the future would be no different than the past 23 years which was not an attractive thought. He knew the second option was wishful thinking and would never happen because his father-in-law owned the house.
During further discussion of the first option, he realized he was waiting for his wife to initiate a change to produce a new outcome. He had been waiting 23 years for her to make this change, but if she hadn’t done so yet, she probably never would. Ultimately, he held her accountable for not making or supporting a choice that he felt needed to happen in order for him to be happy.
He came to realize that, if anything was going to be different, it would have to be the result of his own doing. I left it up to him to determine what it was that he felt he needed to do differently.
The next week he came to therapy and announced that he had gone home and told his wife that he was moving out and that he would love for her to come with him. He showed her the places he was considering and said he wanted to move within a month.
He reported that she had involved herself in the search for a new home and told her sisters that they were moving out. He found new hope and recognized that he had power to change his situation.
He was no longer dependent on someone else’s choice for a desired outcome. It was only when he took matters into his own hands that his future looked brighter.
The power to do lies with you. When you wait for someone else to do something different to make you feel more comfortable, you are giving your power away and essentially disempowering yourself.
Disempowering yourself is no way to reach your potential.