Q. I have been working on raising my level of Emotional Intelligence and every small improvement seems to provide even bigger positive results in my life. I have several close friends who are not on that bandwagon with me. How do I get them to change?
A. There’s a great quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer that speaks to change in oneself and in one’s friends. I used it in this issue [Brain Bulletin, Spring 2017] for the Point to Ponder.
Bottom line: you can change your own behaviors and consistently role-model that change. The brain is very “plastic.” In a sense, the sky’s the limit—if you believe you can and are committed to altering your behaviors. You can set your boundaries to outline the behaviors you will tolerate in your friends and those you will not.
Altering behaviors in your close friends is a horse of a different color, as the old saying goes. Trying to get others to change often results in their digging in their heels and exhibiting the behavior you’d prefer them to change even more frequently.
For every action, there is always a reaction. As you become healthier and more actualized, differentiated, and functional, those around you will eventually figure it out at some level. If they don’t like the person you are becoming they may initially put pressure on you to go back to the old behaviors that they perceived were beneficial to them. If you remain consistent, they may disconnect from you or they just may look at their own behaviors. If the relationship with you is important enough to them, they may begin their own process of evaluation, learning, and personal growth because they value the connection they have with you and want to maintain it. If they do not, be open to creating new relationships with those who do.