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July 10, 2013

“I Can’t Change:” A Cop-out or a Hard Truth?


People ask me all the time if I truly believe people can change. Usually they’re asking this question about a loved one who, they’re certain, will never change. My answer to them is almost always the same: “Absolutely. I’ve seen people who I swore would never change make complete and thorough life turnarounds. I have no doubt that people can change…should they choose to do so.” 

If people are capable of making lasting change, though, why don’t they? What is it that leads one person to turn their entire life around while another person swears they want to change, but they “just can’t?” Is it that some people really can’t change or is it that they really don’t want to change? Unless you’re talking about an impossible feat—like a blind man seeing—then all able-minded human beings are capable of change. 

Not all people believe that they can change, however. Below are common statements I hear from people regarding their own change:

  •  “I am who I am and I’m not going to change.”
  •  “You knew I was like this when you married me. Stop trying to change me because it won’t work.”
  • “I just can’t change. I’ve tried everything.”
  • “It’s in my genetic make-up.”
  • “I’m too old to change.”
  • “Accept me for who I am. I can’t change my entire being.”

All of the above statements are cop-outs, NOT hard truths. The truth is that anyone can change given the right mindset, determination and motivation. The problem is that many people are perfectly comfortable doing what they’re doing. The only uncomfortable part for them is the complaints of those around them. The only change they want to see is for the other people to stop complaining and start accepting whatever they do. Obviously the issue with these people is that they don’t want to change…therefore they won’t.

Other people, though, consciously do want to change, but struggle with getting out of their own way. Subconsciously, though, they’re getting something from not changing and until the stakes are high enough and the desire for change is big enough, they are unlikely to change. Change is uncomfortable. Most people, when given a choice of change or no change, would choose no change hands down. Until the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing…people will continue to do as they’ve always done. 

When people tell themselves they can’t change, they’re unlikely to change. Their belief becomes an anchor weighing them down. Change is a choice. Saying, “I am who I am” is a total cop-out that isn’t serving the person saying it or those around them. Anyone can change…the true question is, “Do they want to change”?

Challenge: Stop being lazy about change and instead step in and dare to better yourself. Refuse to use cop-outs such as “I’m too old,” “I am who I am,” etc. Make the choice to change or not, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re not changing because of forces beyond your control.





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