Subscribe for 33¢ / day

Do you know any people who need to change? Maybe your nephew is drinking too much, or your husband is addicted to fatty foods.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could shape up some of your co-workers? Or, what about your in-laws who resemble outlaws?

The truth is, you’ll have more luck in improving your own life if you try to fix a situation instead of people.

Here are some facts that will help:

— Don’t sugarcoat the truth. If your niece is dating a drug addict or your elderly dad is hooked on painkillers, admit the truth to yourself. Should you announce these truths to the world? No. Before you do anything, you’ll need some support from people outside your family.

— Realize your associates do impact you. For example, if others are out of control, this can push your own life off a cliff. Stay calm and figure out what to do.

— Take as much control as you can, even if it’s stressful.

For example, let’s say your husband has had a couple of heart attacks. He isn’t disciplined enough to cook healthy foods. Should you step in and take over? Yes, if you can.

“I was in this boat last year,” says a friend of ours we’ll call Vicky. “I decided I could let the high cholesterol pony run wild, or I could get some healthy meals into our house. My husband would not do it.”

Vicky told us, “I didn’t cut out the donuts and ice cream the first couple of weeks. I slowly changed our menu, so we both could adjust.”

If you need to change something about family members or associates, remember that changing yourself is the only control you have. You cannot give another person willpower, dedicated discipline or trustworthiness.

A nurse we’ll call Terri says her uncle was showing up at her house intoxicated. “At first, I lectured him,” says Terri. “Next, I tried running him off.”

Terri says the situation changed dramatically when she called up her uncle and said, “I love you. We need to talk.”

Terri found out her uncle had developed panic attacks and was drinking to cope.

“Happy people don’t need to drink,” says Terri. “I’ve had panic attacks myself, so I was able to help my uncle. I got him to a doctor, and within a couple of weeks, he was doing better.”

Most people hesitate to confide their fears and limitations to others. Instead of trying to fix them, judge them or condemn them, first see if there’s anything you can do. If not, back off and try another route.

One man we know says his wife’s sister is a pathological liar. We’ll call the man Michael and his sister-in-law Anna.

“Anna was telling everyone I cheated customers at my place of business,” says Michael.

Michael finally had his attorney write Anna a letter. The lawyer invited Anna to come to his office and provide more information. Otherwise, she would face certain consequences.

Michael says his sister-in-law got so worried, she moved to another state.

If you confront a situation correctly, you can avoid a personal conflict. Do everything you can to change a bad situation, not improve the people involved.

If you are involved in a legal battle concerning property, injuries, character defamation or any other issues, remember emphasizing how the person’s actions are impacting you works best. Avoid personal attacks.

Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Café at Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.

Load comments