I have often been told that ‘People don’t change’. Even more so, I’ve heard the phrase ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’
I’m calling bullshit on both phrases. Especially the latter, my wife and I have housed three rescue dogs over 10 years old and each one of them was able to learn new routines and even tricks.
But I’m not writing about dogs, it’s the human element of change that I want to focus on.
Why are people so often convinced that they cannot change? What is it that makes people repeat the same behaviours time and time again, even when they know these behaviours are going to be harmful.
I read a great book recently called ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ and it suggests that it is in fact fear. The human psyche is a wondrously complicated machine which we should really spend more time analysing. Our feelings of fear have evolved over the years to make us safer. However is that really what they do?
For years I was scared that if I gave up smoking that I would loose a sense of myself, that when bad things happened I would no be able to cope. What’s worse I convinced myself that I wasn’t strong enough, and this lack of control of something I actuvley wanted to stop, affected my mental health considerably. In the end this fear of making a change meant I continued smoking for over a decade, until I read another book I’d highly recommend called “Alan Carr’s Easyway to quit smoking permanently”, which systemically breaks down your fears, until they are gone and you can quit smoking… It genuinely works and an amazing investment for anyone reading this with a cigarette between their lips. But that’s my point. Fear stops change and quite often change in your life is important.
“Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. It has a strong effect on your mind and body.” Mentalhealth.org.uk
By understanding my fear better I was able to envoke the change I desired. It is something we should all take time to do, as we are all guilty of letting fear control us from time to time, but we have to be willing to change to do so.
The worst thing about change is when you’re trying and society keeps telling you it’s impossible. If you repeatedly tell a reformed convict that they will never change you are only creating barriers to them actually changing. If you tell a smoker that ‘they’ve been smoking for too long’ and they won’t change, you’re empowering their own fears.
People can change. We see it all the time. So, let’s stop saying that people cant change… because if you want to change, you’ve already changed your mindset and you’re already halfway to the change actually happening.