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Can People Change?

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

A question that I get asked at least once per day is, can people really change?  Usually, that translates to, can a particular person (e.g. my spouse) change. A tough query to answer without knowing a person’s motivation/desire, awareness, reinforcement/support, and understanding/knowledge of how to change.  Also, does the inquiry refer to changing the behaviors, thoughts, emotions, personality traits, or all of the above?  We’ve established that we can’t change others, but can we truly change ourselves?  As you can see, there are a multitude of factors tied to change.

Let’s first look at what prevents change.  Fear and insecurity would have to be up at the top of the list for change killers.  For many not changing is more appealing and easier than making a change, thus the path of least resistance.  Others fear failure or success and would rather observe life than participate and fail.  In some cases change is driven by external factors (spouse/family/professional) pushing a person to be different rather than internal factors (self-motivated) which have better long-term results.  Being motivated by words such as should/must/have to/need to are guilt and fear driven, rather than can/will/want to/choose to which are self-respect and self-love driven.

Obviously, I wouldn’t be in the “change business” if I didn’t believe in the process, witness success firsthand, and observe the changes in real-time.  Change can be liberating, empowering, and life-altering when you are in charge of the change process. A recent study by Boyce et al. from Social Indicators Research, March 2013, found that one’s personality can change and  lead to improvement in life satisfaction and well-being.  We all have the capability to change and we won’t grow, mature, and succeed without change.

What gets in the way of your ability to change?  A famous quote from Winston Churchill says, “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”  We can make it happen when have the right focus, motivation, and game plan.  Next week I discuss how to change and explain the process.

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