One of my favorite lines in the movie Jerry Maguire is when Renee Zellweger’s character says “I love him for the man he wants to be. And I love him for the man he almost is“. I’m sure we all laughed at that part, especially women viewers, because it’s so true. Why do women think they can change men? Can make them “better”?
Recently I was talking with a friend about some exciting new business matters we’re working on together, and I suddenly realized we were doing the same change-y thing with a potential business endeavor. This business was not quite good enough, but we liked the idea of the business. We didn’t like the way the business was being run, the way the business looked, or the way the future looked as long as it stayed the same, but we liked our future with the business if we could change it. We realized we were trying to change the business to be the business it almost was and the business we wanted it to be. Finally I said, “You know? We just need to go find another man!”, and we started brainstorming about starting our own business, instead of trying to change someone else’s.
Sometimes we can do this with various people in our lives. Expect them to be people they just are NOT. We want our disconnected parent to be better at loving us. We want the long time friend to stop being negative and bring something optimistic to the conversation. Maybe we wish our husbands would be better to our friends or play more with our kids. The thing is, constantly expecting people to be who they aren’t, no matter how “nobel” our intentions, is a recipe for disappointment and bitterness. We’re better off dumping them from our lives altogether or better yet–simply accepting them they way they are, and seek the things we wanted from them–from someone else.
But what is the common denominator here? Why do so many of us have this need to prop up wounded people or endeavors? Could it be that we are too afraid to really go after what will make us happy? Too afraid of what that happiness would mean, and how devastated we’d be if that happiness ever went away? How many times have you let fear of failure–be it personally or professionally–get in the way of your happiness?