Rules for Change

Mahatma Gandhi needs no long introduction. Everyone knows about the man who lead the Indian people to independence from British rule in 1947. Recently, I came across an article by Henrik Edberg in which he discusses Gandi’s 10 most inspirational ideas and thoughts for changing the world.  As I read these, I became aware of how well these rules also apply to couples’ therapy and our relationship to our significant other.

These tidbits of wisdom can be applied, one at a time to not only changing the world, but also changing our relationships, not only with our significant other, but with everyone in our lives.

The first rule comes from Gandi’s famous saying “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” (or in your relationship). Many couples come to therapy thinking that if the therapist could just fix their partner and set him or her straight – that all would return to, or become well in the relationship.

The truth of the matter is that it takes two to tango, and that most lasting deep change requires that both people begin to recognize and to change some of the ways that they are interacting with each other which are not working.

This requires that first, each person owns his or her part in what is going wrong in the relationship and makes a commitment to change – not the other person – but first themselves. Many people want a better marriage without also making a commitment to becoming a better person in some ways.

For most people, this is not a natural process and if we knew how to do it, we would be doing it. This is where a good therapist can be helpful in seeing the bigger picture and providing feedback about the processes getting in the way of having the happy and fulfilling relationship that you desire. Once you understand your own part in the process, it then becomes easier to see what steps you could take to change yourself, and thus inevitably begin to change the relationship (and maybe even the world) .

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