Last week, the title of my article (blog) was You Do Your Thing… I’ll Do Mine. I was basically suggesting not imposing your will upon others to adapt to the beliefs you have. In turn, those others should do the same. It would reduce the tension, anger, and violence. You may think what someone else is doing is stupid, and you may have very good reasons to think that, but you are not going to change that person’s mind, and aggressively pushing your opinion and beliefs on others can lead to bad things.
Why do we want to pull others to our side, to think the way we think, act the way we act, and believe what we believe? Obviously, your way is the best way. Or at least you believe it is. Therefore, we believe we have some duty or obligation to get them to see things our way. We believe that we are helping them.
There is a common occurrence in my office in which a patient tries very, very hard to get a friend to come see me because that friend is in bad pain. That other person refuses to come. My patient expresses anger and frustration with that person, wondering why in the world he or she would not try chiropractic care. The friend may say something like, “I don’t believe in chiropractic care.” The patient hates seeing his or her friend in pain, wants that person to get help, and knows chiropractic care works, because they’ve experienced good results first hand.
I think patients are surprised when I don’t get as passionate as they are about getting their friends in to see me. I simply tell them that they will come when they are ready. If that bad pain isn’t enough for them to have a shift in their belief system, they will not be persuaded. I thank them for making the effort and assure them that they will come eventually, but not until they are ready.
Knowing that we can help a lot of people that are suffering, I too used to be amazed when those people would decline the opportunity to come into our office. I was amazed at the power of core beliefs, no matter how inaccurate they were. A good friend once shared something with me that I never forgot. He noted that I was passionate about helping others and pushed hard to get people to try the care we provide in our office. He told me to imagine being in a large hotel and noticing a fire in the stairwell. He told me to see myself running from room to room, pounding on the doors, yelling to people that there was a fire and that they needed to get out. Room by room, I could alert people to the fire. But then someone in one of the rooms asks, “How do I know there is a fire?” My friend describes how I tell that person that there are flames in the stairwell and smoke is rolling down the halls. Now that person says that they don’t see any fire, and they don’t see or smell any smoke. I assure him that I saw it myself, that it was coming this way, and that if he doesn’t get out, he could die. My friend then asks me… do you stay and try to convince this one person, or move on and save hundreds more lives?
When we know there is a fire, a severe storm rolling in, or any other issue that we feel another human being would benefit from and/or could prevent a disaster, I do feel that we have an obligation to share that information. I believe that we can do it with passion, intensity, and even do it a couple of times. At some point, however, we need to move on. We cannot beg people to see our point of view or share our beliefs.
This is very hard for most people, me included. I want to grab that person who doesn’t believe something I know to be true, drag them to the stairwell, and show them the fire. But that’s not my job. My job is sharing what I know, expressing why I feel the way I do, and letting that person decide what to do. It isn’t worth time, energy, and effort to try to force someone to do something they do not want to do. I’ll respect your position… so please respect mine.
I got an email about magic cereal and found my way to this post; a much needed reminder in my life right now. The inability to change someone’s perspective and allowing them to find their way is very difficult and frustrating, but it’s not up to me. And I don’t really want the responsibility of changing someone, so I’m thankful for the reminder to let go and move on.