When We Give Up On Others, We Give Up On Ourselves


Within the past two years, two people I know have died from drug addiction. And both times, I heard reactions like “It’s not surprising,” “I saw this coming,” and the one that really gets under my skin, “This was always going to happen.”

This was always going to happen. Was it really? Okay, I can see the supposed (and heartless) logic there and why someone might feel justified in making such a comment, but I refuse to believe it. We should all refuse to believe it.

But somehow, this perception is rampant. How many times have you heard – or said – that’s just the way she is, he can’t help himself, or people don’t change?

It’s like we’ve given up on each other, like somewhere along the way we stopped believing in change.

It’s ironic because we all want change in our lives. And change in the world, for that matter. We want a shorter commute to work, a job that pays better, more time for our friends, more time for our families, more time for ourselves. We wish our husbands would watch less TV, our wives wouldn’t nag so much, our children would call more. We want to see a government that works, companies that care, and a world with less violence.

Well, how exactly do we expect any of that change to happen? People. It can only – and will only – happen through people.

So when we stop believing that people can change, we stop believing anything can change, ourselves included. Because change doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t choose who can and can’t have it. We all have a chance for change.

There is no set outcome in any life. There is no this was always going to happen. The future is always changing. It is shifting with every single decision we make.

Can you change someone else? No. You don’t get that choice. But you do have a choice when it comes to other people – you can choose to judge them or accept them, blame them or embrace them, give up on them or believe in them. Your decisions are about defining you, not them.

And these decisions don’t live in a vacuum. They are a connection point among all of us. Call it the butterfly effect, domino effect, chaos theory… the point is, we are all living this life together. We are the cause and the effect. We are the link in every chain reaction.

So giving up on someone – giving up on anyone – no matter the circumstances, has consequences. They have an effect that doesn’t help the cause.

Think about it – when faced with an obstacle — any challenge, any goal, any major life change — you don’t need judgment. You don’t need lectures. You don’t need people telling you what to do, trying to create the change for you. It doesn’t work like that. No one can actually make the change but you.

The best thing anyone can do for you is to just believe in you. To know you can do it even when you’re in your deepest moments of doubt. To be a light in your darkest hours. To see your better days when you’re lost in the bad ones.

That is how you change other people. You change them through love and acceptance. You change them by never giving up on them, by never ceasing to believe they will find change within themselves.

You change them by changing you.