The idea that people can change is not something new. In fact, we talk a lot about people changing. I have girlfriends that believe if a man loves her enough he will change for her. We hear “She just became a different person” or “He went traveling and came back totally different”. We are marveled by how different at times people can be, how they can become different versions of themselves almost overnight without any effort or warning.
I’m a change coach. The belief that humans are not capable of change would be rather counter intuitive or so it seems. But it is the case. I don’t believe people can change who they are. I believe to the core we are the same throughout our entire lives. We don’t change ourselves, we just become more comfortable with who we already are.
I believe you can change your mindset, your perspective, your behavoir and your dreams (this is excluding external effects like drugs or illness). You can become more of something that you already are or less (f.e. more open to new things). But the toolkit, that’s already there from birth. One of the biggest misconceptions is that we are born a blank slate. In psychology the term is called tabula rasa – a theory that that at birth, all humans are born with the ability to become literally anything or anyone. This belief downplays the effects of genetics and biology on the development of the human personality and has been disproved many times in various ways. You are born with a certain set of crayons with certain colours and you are not able to trade that in.
Your tastes may change, situations might effect your way of seeing the world but you will always be who you were when you came into it. And there is nothing wrong with that. You do not need to be any different. If someone gives you that feeling or tells you otherwise then you are not meant for them. Just like some people like tomatoes and it’s just not for others. People, like foods, are a lot about taste and what you are already used to.
This is no excuse to be an a**hole. This does not mean you shouldn’t reflect on who you are and what impact that might have on others. We often tend to confuse our feelings, thoughts and behaviors as a part of ourselves. But they are not. They are a reflection of how we have used our toolkit – or box of crayons which ever you prefer to call it – and how that has been received by the world. A lot of people have trouble getting in touch with their true, authentic selves (here’s my other post on this topic). That is more than fine, we’ve been told throughout our lives how we should be, we forget who we really are. One great way is to remember who you were as a child. How you felt and how you saw the world. I bet that child is still in you somewhere – you still have those tools you were born with and they will help you become a better you. That’s why they were given to you in the first place.