The man sitting across from me said angrily, “It’s too late to do anything about our marriage!” A few months later he and his wife walked out of my office hand in hand, smiling broadly. A miracle? Yes, but the kind of miracle available to almost any couple or family willing to try to change. Let me share with you the ACE’s of the process:
- Admit the problem
- Change what you can
- Expect results
You were expecting ABC? Most of us can’t bring about changes in our lives or conquer the problems we face because we won’t admit their existence. A big success factor in Alcoholics Anonymous is the required introduction, “I’m Jim, and I’m an alcoholic.” Before one can speak, he must admit he is in need. The greatest among us fail. To admit I am wrong or that I need help is the first step in changing anything. I have to face the problem – honestly.
The second step is to change what I can. Three basic laws govern the process of change. First, I can only change myself. Second, I cannot change any other person. Third, if I change myself, he will change in relation to me. Such a simple formula, but its impact – when practiced – is profound. I take charge of my problems through the part I can control – myself! This shift in attitude brings amazing freedom to see solutions.
A mother complained that she screamed and yelled, but nothing got through to her children. I suggested that she needed to get herself under control. “What do you mean?” she asked. When she began to speak softly to her children and would only repeat what she had said if they said, “Pardon me” or “”I’m sorry I wasn’t listening.” You’ve already guessed the result. She stopped screaming, and in time they started listening. Communication improved dramatically – and by the way, so did courtesy.
The third step is to expect results. If it’s “too late,” you are already defeated with your family problem. The Greek philosopher, Seneca, wisely said, “Madness is to expect evil before it comes.” How true! So is the opposite – sanity is expecting the positive. The most mentally healthy people expect good results – and they get them!
A son standing near his father’s casket said, “I wish I had told you I love you.” That’s too late, but if the family member with whom you have a problem is breathing, it’s never too late to start to change the relationship. Try these principles in your marriage or family relationships – why not start today?