Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How Much Do We Really Change?

Sorry to wax philosophical, but I really wonder what your opinion is about this. Do you think people can change? I mean, really, truly change.

Here's my perspective: People are born with certain traits. It is their essential self and personality. Layered on that is the environment we're brought up in--the beliefs, ideals and thinking patterns that we're taught. Layered on that are the "life changing" traumas that redirect us.

It is my opinion that we spend our life trying to get back to our essential selves, our true self.

A friend of mine totally disagrees. He feels that people can change everything about their personality. That we are malleable. Shy, sociable, assertive, passive, etc. are all traits that can be changed.

Who is right?

People can change any part of their personality.
Strongly Agree
I don't know, Maybe
Strongly Disagree
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Wayne said...

Hmm... It hasn't been too many weeks ago that you (I believe) posted about being able to overcome shyness, so I have to say I don't quite understand your position here. It was in a post regarding men being able to approach women.

Also, people DO change, all the time, as they grow older. I was soul-breakingly shy when I was in school, as well as emotionally hyper-sensitive. It was so bad that in retrospect I realize I wasn't picked on as badly as some others, though I frequently thought I would not be able to get through another day of school. However, sometime after I graduated (or perhaps shortly before, it's been too long to remember for certain), I came to the realization that we were all children, and they didn't understand the ramifications of what they were doing.

I also became, about that time, much more self-confident (though I am not completely over shyness), to the point that people who meet me now cannot believe I am the same person they went to school with.

Anonymous said...

Not only to I strongly believe that people can change, I strongly permit others to change. We all need that in our lives. So much of the time, we react and act because of what another person feels or thinks about us. "Getting back to our essential selves, our, our true self," of which you speak about here is all about truly finding yourself. A poet once said, that is takes a very long time before we feel our home within ourselves. I could not agree more with that. All of us struggle so much and when we finally find our home within ourselves then the struggles begin to cease.

P.S. I like it when you get a bit philosophical. I miss those kinds of post which you did a lot more earlier on. :-) I usually can feel your heart in them as you truly express yourself from that place.

Bob said...

That's a tough one. I think one can find ways to work around traits such as shyness. For example I am painfully shy by nature. Yet I managed to overcome it to work for over 20 years as a television reporter. Even now in my current job, I'm generally content to hole up in my office, but can at the drop of a hat do an impromptu presentation for visitors.
On the other hand, as I grow older, I find myself turning more and more toward the spiritual. Not that it hasn't always been there, but an indication that the personality does evolve with time.

Anonymous said...

bob, I can so relate to you. Age itself seems to uncover deeper things in us. Well put!

Melissa Clouthier said...


Maybe it seems contradictory, and I'll grant you that my view is rather complex, but, it seems to me that we are born a certain way. I look at my kids and they all have the personalities they were born with. However, we are working with those personalities to help them be their best selves.

I, too, was very shy as a kid and have worked to overcome it. And yet, my attempts at being a more outgoing person haven't changed my underlying private nature.

Am I making any sense whatsoever?

Amy Jo said...

Changing is good. If you don't change, you don't grow as a person. And, change is hard. Who wants to admit they need to change something about themselves?

silvermine said...

That's funny, when I read this, my first thought was to overcoming shyness, too. I was painfully shy in school. In one of my high school classes, there was a person who, halfway through the year, heard me talking to my lab partner and actually exclaimed, "Oh my gosh, you talk!".

Once I left school and had a "real job", people started appreciating everything people thought was weird about me in school. I got way less shy. I actively worked at it, but after a while, it became habit. I no longer have to force myself to chat with the grocery store checker -- I do it as a reflex, and even enjoy it!

I know I've actively cultivated other things in my personality as well, over time. I think some people do this more easily than others. I seem to be pretty good at it. But maybe some people really can't, and I'd just never know?

john f not kerry said...

I think to really change something about ourselves takes a change in thinking. When we are younger, we can believe many things that aren't true, such as "Nobody likes me." While these unhelpful thoughts can cause damage, the reality of maturity can help us to overcome it, if we embrace it, and maybe accept that not everyone will like you, just as you will not like everyone.

If we hold on to being a victim, then nothing will change. Lies, no matter how small, need to be replaced with truth, however painful the process may be.

sandy said...

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