Personal opinion: I can’t, but I can.
I don’t spend much time on Facebook. I know a lot of people find it great to stay connected and keep in touch, but I’m not one of those people. Still, I do take a quick browse from time to time.
I saw this quote on a recent Facebook dip:
You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.
This quote is attributed to minimalists. I was about to gloss over the words and keep scrolling when I was suddenly drawn back to them. After rereading the sentence a few times, a light went on.
oh! it is Its meaning. How great is that? I kept that quote running around in my head to keep myself entertained for quite some time. I have since shared it with family and friends. For some reason, that really, really appeals to me.
I agree that you can’t change the people around you. It’s a position I feel very strongly about. I think a strong argument can be made that most of our social problems arise from people’s efforts to change others. Violence, manipulation, coercion, and brutal violence are all used to make people act according to the will of others rather than their own..
Rather than using unpleasant methods, methods that are considered good are also used. Bribes and rewards are commonly employed tactics to persuade some people to act in a way that others think is right.
For the most part, our social world is still based on the idea of sticks and carrots. The one who wields the whip or the one who gives the carrot determines how the one who avoids the whip or the one who seeks the carrot should behave.
I explored these ideas further in a book I co-authored with Rick Marken called Controlling People: The Paradoxical Nature of Being Human.
I wholeheartedly agree with the first part of that very wise quote. I also agree with the second part.I definitely can Change the people around me. You can change your situation and meet and interact with different people.
People facing violent abusers can be moved to another place where more peaceful people live. In fact, people change their situations quite regularly. Quitting one job and starting another is a way to change the people around you. You can also join a new sports club or start a new hobby.
Changing your environment or situation is never easy. In some cases, it may take time to find another job or affordable housing. Those with limited resources have even more limited options. For example, a single parent in a refugee camp or someone in prison doesn’t have the luxury of packing their bags and getting on the next bus to somewhere better. However, even in this situation, you still have choices about who you spend your time with and how much time you spend with them.
rawpixel, Image ID: 41873970, @123RF
It’s interesting to wonder why we surround ourselves with certain people in our lives. Why are the people currently in your company in your world? Why them and not others? What aspects of your world are kept in balance by having these specific people a part of your life rather than the rest of the crowd?
People in our world, by and large, do not exist by chance. Some people come and go at our shows as mere spectators, but there are also important players that we make some effort to keep on stage. To put it bluntly, the people we surround ourselves with are those who help us achieve one or more important goals.
Are the people around you currently helping or hindering you from living the life you want to live? What would be the ideal change, if any? So, what’s next? what?
Marken, R. S., and Carey, T. A. (2015). Controlling people: The paradoxical nature of being human. Brisbane: Australian Academic Press.