They should be doing this. I wish they would do it this way.
Do you use phrases like that?
I catch myself doing it sometimes and it made me think about words like “should” and “I wish”. And it got me thinking back to the concept that we can only control what we can control.
One of the things we can’t control is what others do.
It’s certainly frustrating sometimes. Let’s take an example in a business situation. You hire someone. You place your trust in them. Then they let you down. Maybe they begin showing up to work late.
That would make you think, “I wish they would show up on time. That would fix a few issues.”
Or let’s look at a situation in our personal lives. You have a spouse that you love and trust. Maybe there is something they do that kind of irritates you. Maybe it’s cleaning the house. That will get you to think things like, “They should clean more to take some of the load off my shoulders.”
What We Control
The phrases “should” and “I wish” will get you into trouble. In the two situations above it can lead to frustration with the people in your life. You start focusing on the things you think a person should be doing and not on the things that they do well and that you appreciate.
It also takes the focus off of the things that maybe you should be doing in your life. That’s where you can actually make changes happen. If you focus on others and what you think they should change then you’re not going to get the change you think will happen almost ever.
And obviously if the situation doesn’t change the frustration will build and build. You’ll be unhappy with the people around you and with yourself. Your life won’t be what you want it to be and the spiral continues until one day you’re very unhappy and likely void of success and enjoyment.
A Change In Perspective
Okay, that was a little more dire than I meant for it to be. We all probably have various levels of “should” in our lives. Some more than others. The thing is, though, that you probably know some people in your life that are high on the scale of how much they focus on others and on the other side you probably know someone that doesn’t focus on others and they focus on themselves.
Those in the latter group are probably happier. They might be more successful. They focus on the things they can change.
And that’s where you can make a change in perspective. If you find yourself focusing too much on others – what they have, what they do, how you think they affect your life, etc. – then it’s time to start bringing your focus back to yourself.
Even if someone is doing something negative to you the only real option is looking at what you can do to change the situation. Let’s say that your house is messy because someone in your life is messy. It increases your stress. It frustrates you. It makes you look negatively on them.
You could ask them to clean up after themselves, but that’s not putting the responsibility on you and what you can change. Other options would be for you to clean things yourself. That’s within your control. You could hire someone to do the cleaning for you if you don’t want to. In both situations you’re taking control and focusing on what you can do to change the situation for the better.
We can wish and wish for others to change their behavior, but it’s difficult. Think about yourself. When someone demands that you make changes do you make them? Probably not very often. Usually the motivation to change comes from within.
Other people are the same way. You can’t wish for them to change and hope it happens. A better way to approach the situation is to focus on what you control and what you can change to improve the situation.
Make that slight switch in perspective and you should see more pleasant situations and relationships in your personal and professional lives.