Can People REALLY Change?
Updated: Jan 6, 2019
So you think you can change, or someone else can or will change? At the end of the day, any and all change has to be the outcome of wanting to change yourself.
If you’re adjusting and altering your actions, feelings, and relationships to fit the needs and wants of someone else, it might look the same, but it will never bear the same weight that comes from the true desire to change.
I decided this topic needed discussed for multiple reasons. One, everyone is all about "change" and New Year resolutions at this time. Two, I have had some introspective thoughts on what I want to improve about myself and debated what change really meant. And three, once I asked the question on Facebook (find the link here) it had quite a strong response.
We fear change, yet we change out of fear. I recently asked on social media: “Can people really change?” One person responded with Fear. The fear of losing someone perhaps, or the fear of change, or the fear of repercussions if you don't change. Change is best constructed when it is intrinsic and committed-for ourselves, not out of fear.
That said, we all do it throughout our lifetime.
We all pick out little parts of other people that we wish fit better with how we work and what we want from another person.
And as quickly as we promise love, we feel the urge to try and change people. Typically it leads to the other person feeling bad about themselves and then resentful of you for making them feel that way, and then you feel bad about that, and then the whole thing turns into a snowball of gross feelings, insecurities and unhappiness.
Most of us have made "changes" growing up to appease authorities like our parents or teachers. Or maybe you didn't. But in adulthood, we are now strongly ingrained as who we are -- habits and all. Let's take smoking, for example: I smoked since I was a teenager (sorry Mom). When I was in my early 20's, my boyfriend at the time didn't like it, but he never demanded I quit. So when I finally did stop smoking, it was for me and not anyone else. As an added bonus, he was super happy, and admittedly, so was I. Later in life, a boyfriend wanted me to lose weight. It never really worked. I eventually resented that he would even demand such a thing. That wasn't the only thing he wanted me to change, and none of the changes were things I myself wanted, so that relationship ended with a lot of resentment on my end.
I wanted my last serious boyfriend to change in a few big ways. Even though there was so much about him I did love there were a few essential aspects to our lives that didn't align. I wanted him to truly commit to me and to the lifestyle that I was leading. My lifestyle is structured more than half the time with a career, children, and grad school. That isn't who he is. Not right now, at least. So, I used fear and demanded that he change, or I'm out. How do you think that ended? The change I wanted was a huge important piece to me. I want my partner to be honest, committed, and want to move forward at a reasonable pace alongside me. Everyone has their own ideas of how or when something should happen, but for me that was a deal breaker. Sadly, I didn't really know the depth of how different we thought things should be until heartbreak on both ends was inevitable. The examples could go on, and yet even after lessons are learned we commit the same errors. Some things I know that I try to carry with me when it comes to relationships with lovers, friends and family are these:
Somethings are unfair to ask someone to change. I will not change these things FOR someone, and I will work on not asking someone to change these things:
· Their body
· Their issues with their families
· Their priorities
· Their music, movie, or TV preferences
· Their past
· How they feel
· Certain habits
At the same token, if you are committed in how you feel about any of the above, don't compromise your wants in your partner. Those are deal breakers, and to be fair, should be discussed as soon as possible with your partner to avoid future hurt, resentment, and wasted time.
The power to change always rests with each person, no matter what your relationship to them is.
Since change is most successful when you really want it, what do you want to change?
For me: I want to make healthier choices with food, the majority of the time, not just during a Whole30. I want to be kinder to my children, even when I am stressed. I want to be a more selfless friend to those who care about me, without expecting anything in return. I want to choose partners in life that benefit me and not out of fear of loneliness. I really want those things. I really want to change myself for the better. How about you?