What I Think When I Hear "People Don't Change"

“Amanda, people don’t change,” said one of my mentors as we chatted over a hot tea. This was the second, maybe third time I’d heard this adage in the past few weeks. Now, for the second, maybe third time, I chose not to accept it.

You see, I believe at their core that people are good, well-meaning, capable human beings. I believe that we all want to experience deep happiness and belonging. However, I also believe that we’ve been taught that it’s survival of the fittest. We’ve learned through our own experiences in this world that pain and struggle not only exist, but are probable. We've also learned that sacrifice is necessary; and that control and power keep us safe. Because of this miseducation, we develop a lot of unsavory habits and ways of being that support what we have come to believe about the world. In short, we are wounded - so subtly that we might not notice, but also so deeply that it's impossible to avoid. As a result, we develop limiting beliefs and patterns which manifest as things like greed or materialism, selfishness, pessimism, lack of trust, and disconnectedness (I could go on) in order to compensate for those wounds. We all have wounds that show up in one form or the other; and we all avoid them in our own ways.

However, I also believe that we do indeed have the capacity to change. I have deep, tremendous faith in that fact. Should we have even the tiniest will to strive for a better way of being; I believe we can absolutely achieve it, no matter how stuck we are in our own version of the story. I trust that we are capable of unlearning patterns and beliefs that have kept us stuck in our current way of being. Why? Because we are resilient and intuitive creatures. If we have the curiosity and courage to even consider change as a possibility, I believe we have the inner guidance system and strength to make it happen.

It's not that people don't change. It's that people don't change easily. We've become accustomed to what's fast, fun, and easy. Change has hardly earned any of those labels. Change is tough, trying and a somewhat lonely process, but it can be done. 

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I also believe there is help available to us when and if we decide we are ready make the journey. Miracles, I've learned, occur as shifts in our own perception.  Would we not change as individuals if our perceptions shifted, if even in the tiniest way? Would we not behave differently towards others if we were able to see the world through the eyes of possibility and love rather than through the eyes of lack and fear, if even in small doses?

I find that we are indeed capable of change, even in the beliefs and patterns that seem to be at our very core. Those we have come to rely on as guiding principles and ways of being. Those that may come with wounds so deeply ingrained, it seems terrifying to let down the guard we have built up to protect ourselves.

Yes, I believe we are capable of tremendous, monumental, inspiring change. All that is required is the tiniest bit of curiosity, willingness, humility, and trust. I fully believe we all have the capability and the capacity to change and grow deeply in our lives. Of course, we must each choose to realize this potential for change on our own. It does seem that some of us may never strive to realize it, but when it comes to the myth that “people don’t change,” I firmly believe that they absolutely can.