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Can people really change?

A tangential discussion at our book club meeting the other night prompted a train of thought I’ve often followed in the past, and have now been mulling over ever since.

Can people really change?

It may sound like a fairly simple question with a clear-cut answer, but when you dig a little bit deeper you begin to unearth so much more.

What about developing new, better habits and sticking with them permanently?

What about lasting personal growth, and not having to repeat the same lessons learned over and over again?

What about successfully undergoing a complete lifestyle change?

What about overcoming social or psychological disorders?

What about the role of outside influences such as medication, counseling, etc.?

What about abusive behaviour?

What about criminal rehabilitation?

I’m not going to devote much space in this post to my own thoughts on the matter, because I’d love to hear your unbiased thoughts and perspectives.

So what do you think?

Can people really change?

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Yes, I do believe that people can change … and here is the “but” … the underlying learned behaviour is always there, waiting to rear it’s ugly head. The pedophile … may make a complete lifestyle change, but his wants will always be with him. The binge eater may be able to change to healthy eating but given stress or neglect of purpose, may revert to habit.
    I do think change is possible .. but it is important to be vigilant forever.

  • Ashley Langton August 15, 2012

    YES!! Without people’s ability to change, I would have no hope for my future as I strive to be a better wife, mother and member of society. What would we have to work toward if we couldn’t change?Btw- it has officially become a tradition that my husband and I revisit the country where it all began, in order to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We just spent one night in the Niagara region, where we enjoyed each other’s company on a wine tour! I LOVE Canada!

    • DawnStorey August 18, 2012

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! And glad you were able to visit my country again! 🙂

  • Farahnaz Salar Khan via Facebook August 15, 2012

    I thought about it too and since my dad was visiting, I checked off a list of stuff with him. He smiled and smiled, I don’t think I have changed at all on the inside.

  • Tweetsmom August 15, 2012

    I don’t think people can really change.  That behavior is always there under the surface.  The only way is with constant diligence.  It is so easy to go back to the old ways.Kathyhttp://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

    • DawnStorey August 18, 2012

      Interesting – thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • SabrinaL August 17, 2012

    I believe people can change but I wonder if your question is more about permanent change. We’re a compilation of our past experiences and until we decide we want different results we’re on autopilot. In an attempt to develop new disciplines, I have to replace not so good habits with better habits. I might not do what’s best every day for the rest of my life but I think, every day that I am successful, I’m changing. As I go along, I’m learning new things about myself and gathering new data. To those around me, it may not be a total gallop in the opposite direction but I feel the shift and maybe one day it will be enough of a shift that it will be noticed by others…but maybe not. It’s like trying to  lose weight, just because others don’t see the pounds melting away doesn’t mean a person hasn’t changed their mindset about food/exercising/good health. Those ‘recovering’ probably have the hardest time with change because it is gradual, however, people around them – understandably bracing themselves for the worst – are always looking for a hint of the familiar. Funny, if someone is going in the ‘right direction’ and then something life altering happens we believe that they be changed or ‘take a turn for the worse’ but if someone starts out as a bad apple and works to develop a new way of life we’re hesitant to believe they can change for the better. Maybe the bad was always in the good person and the good was always in the bad person. It’s anyone’s guess what possible changes are within someone.

    • DawnStorey August 18, 2012

      Wise words, Sabrina – thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Laurel Regan via Facebook August 18, 2012

    Wise thoughts!

  • BeckyCochrane August 19, 2012

    Habits can be changed. Behaviors can be changed. Patterns of thinking can be changed. It depends on motivation–and probably on reward, as well. As for whether there are some things inherent within us that are immutable–I’m not sure. 

    • DawnStorey August 20, 2012

      I’m not sure either. I lean towards yes, but I’m not sure.

  • Mike DeWolfe April 17, 2013

    I hope the answer is “yes.” I am going to use an upcoming birthday to dump off a lot of toxic baggage. I’m not dumping it on people, I am dropping it altogether. That will be easier said than done, I’m going to start down the road and remind myself along the way that I am on a new road.
    Mike DeWolfe recently posted… FriendsMy Profile

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