Can people ever really change?

Can anyone really change who they are? There are various opinions on the subject, and it's a question I've been struggling with lately. Whether we're talking about a client or a loved one, business or personal, it doesn't really matter. The question is, can someone truly achieve the change necessary to mold their character for the better. Some believe it's possible, some don't.

This issue usually comes up when a person has behaved in such a way that they have caused great harm and pain to the people around them, for a long period of time, culminating in one or more crises, right? Substance abusers are the ones we most often associate with having this issue; behaving in a way so harmful, so self involved, that they take everything and everyone around them for granted. They often lie to themselves and the people around them, denying that they even have an issue in the first place, further harming themselves and the people around them with their destructive behavior.

I've come to believe that one of the main reasons this happens is because none of us can escape our past. We can try, and we get fooled into thinking that we've overcome and transcended our past, but the minute we do that, our past has a weird way of sneaking up on us, with all of its triggers and memories. We can't get away from who we are and the experiences that shaped us.

However, what we can do is learn self-awareness, what our issues and our triggers are, and take responsibility for controlling our reactions to them. We can also learn coping skills to deal with these triggers, so that we behave and conduct our lives in a more productive manner, rather than destructive.

Not to sound too preachy or spout psycho babble about any of this, but this is what I've come to believe from my observations, especially lately with folks I've known for a long time in both professional and personal contexts.

So can people ever really change?

I don't think so. We are who we are and our blue print is set in stone.

However, I strongly believe that our behavior can change, especially bad behavior. We can learn to curb our own worst tendencies and impulses, replacing these patterns with healthier choices that are more constructive for the person in question and everyone around them.

That said, it's not easy pulling all of that off. It requires getting into that uncomfortable place where one learns unfamiliar, different ways of reacting to situations and doing things, learning how to make better overall choices. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes realizing that it might be too late to seek and get forgiveness from those you've harmed with your destructive behavior for way too long. It takes wanting to still make the changes, in spite of all of that.

So can it be done? Yes it can. If you really want to... So do you?

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