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My How You've Changed

Apparently I’m a fan of talking about Change, given that this is my second post dedicated to the subject. Last time was almost a year ago actually…time flies when you’re having fun. Fortunately, I’m talking about a different kind of Change today.

The kind of Change I’m thinking about is people. We often hear people talk about how much they’ve Changed. As humans we go through a series of events in our lives (or FGEs…see my last post) some of which can have a very deep and profound impact on us. We come out the other side of them inexorably Changed! It’s miraculous. But it begs the question…are we really any different than we were prior to whatever the monumental event was?

Are people actually capable of Change?

I think the answer is both yes and no. Don’t you love answers like that?

My personal belief is that on one level, we are who we are, period. There are certain things about ourselves that will never Change no matter what we do. Now, that is not to say we cannot hide or disguise those things—that’s what plastic surgery was invented for! But when it comes to the core of who and what you are, it gets to the Nature vs. Nurture debate—what were we born with and what was instilled in us at an early age, and more importantly, can either of those things be altered later in life?

There’s always electroshock therapy, true, but not many people do that willingly.

On the other hand, I believe we can Change the way we think and how we interact with people, but that kind of Change is the kind that most people are unwilling to undertake. Why? The answer there is easy—we’re inherently lazy. And that kind of Change takes a whole lot of time and a helluva lot of work and effort.

I’ll put myself forward as Exhibit A. Nearly eight years ago my entire life was centered around making everyone around me happy. I gave not a single thought to what made ME happy…frankly, that’s what warm, gooey, chocolate-chip cookies were for. I stuffed down my own emotional needs that weren’t being met by anyone (including me) with food. I focused on how I could make everyone else happy, because if I made them happy they would love me and stay around.

Now that’s a healthy psyche right there.

When my “world” fell apart (and by world I mean marriage) I was smacked with the realization of just how unhappy I’d been for a while and it took me another two years to decide to actually DO something about it. Now, after six years with an *amazing* therapist, I’m finally in a place where I know what happiness looks like for me, and am actually willing to do what I need to do to achieve it for myself.

Was it easy? Dear lord no! And frankly, on the way I lost some “friends” but made others. There were people who were not happy when I started putting my needs first and distanced themselves. But I discovered there were others who were incredibly drawn to this new, self-assured, confident woman—and really, who can blame them? She is pretty kick-ass.

But here’s my point—yes, I Changed…after years of work dedicated to making that Change. Most people are not willing, able, or aware of the kind of commitment that true Change like that requires. It’s the reason that it is so easy to Change something in the short-term, but then we find ourselves slipping right back into the old habits.

So these days when I have someone in my life who talks about how different they are, how much they’ve Changed, my attitude is to take them at face value at first—I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. But then I watch. It’s not words that show your Change, your growth. It’s actions.

To steal from Gandhi, “We must be the Change we wish to see in the world.” Now he was referring to living like you want the world to actually be—Do unto others and all that good stuff. But I think it applies on a smaller level to Changing ourselves. You can’t just talk about your personal Change. You have to actually DO it and SHOW it.

Like me, you might be surprised by the results!

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