Can People Change?

Here comes the day; you have trusted someone and come to the awareness that things are not always as they appear. You are contemplating the chasm between trust and betrayal and considering a confrontation or intervention. You ask yourself, “Can people change?” because you want to believe there is hope for the continuation of a relationship with this person whom you believed the best about.

Even if it is not a blatant trust betrayal, you feel that aching in the pit of your stomach and you can’t help but feel like you’ve been stabbed in the back by someone you felt secure with. Now? You just do not know.

Do you risk it and go forward with the relationship? Or do you cut your losses and say, “Vaya con Dios.”?

A cautionary pessimist might conclude, “They will never change.”

If you are like me, you do believe that people can change. Why do I believe that people can change? Because I am in the life-change business, have been most of my life, and I have seen people change drastically and magnificently in the face of the most seemingly impossible circumstances.

Granted, I have also had the experience of working with individuals who were not able to muster the wherewithal to change, who remain in their default state… and even for them, I feel there is still hope that they may change.

It is like the old Scorpion and the Frog story, some people, even with the best intentions, can not go against their base personality setting, and for those, they will always revert to what they know.

Still, there are the clients who come to me and say, “I want to change but I don’t know how,” and this is a good starting place, but it doesn’t mean they have what it takes to actually make the change and have it stick for any length of time. Although, some of these individuals to experience deep and meaningful, longstanding transformations.

If you truly and deeply care about someone, you might be willing to sacrifice anything to help them make the change you so desire to see in them, but it’s important to note that you can’t want for someone more than they want for themselves. As much as you might like this person to be the way you imagine them to be, even if you can clearly see their potential in your mind’s eye, he or she can only do what he or she is capable of. They may not possess the capacity for such a change.

And why would you want to change anyone to your perception of the image which you have carved out for them anyway? Doesn’t everyone have the right to be who they are? What about you? Don’t you have the right to be the person that you are? Don’t you expect others to respect you and allow you to be the person you want to be? Why would you not extend the same courtesy to this other person to be who they are?

You have the right to pursue your own individual path of personal growth and change. Only you can determine what is the best method and turn to take at any given time.

You, just like anyone, if you have experienced severe hardship in your life, can transform from victim to mastery, but you must be ready to change your life, once and for all.

You can change your life right now. If you decide to take on the task to change your life, it is up to you to seek out and achieve your highest and best potential.

Remember to be true to yourself, and when you can be true to your calling, you can rest assured that you’re making a difference in the world.

The Scorpion and the Frog

While I have spent my life in the support of empowering people to change their lives for the better, there are some people who simply cannot or will not change.

Only an individual can choose to do the work of creating massive change in their lives. I see it all the time, alcoholics and drug addicts stop being slaves to their substances. Victims of childhood abuse, leave their propensity for violence behind, becoming loving and supportive members of society. Criminals become law-abiding citizens, and the poverty-stricken change their lives and become highly prosperous.

Even diseased or disabled patients, find ways to heal themselves, saying, “Goodbye,” to their maladies, once and for all, living long, healthy, and wildly satisfying lives.

Nobody knows the capacity for a person to change their lives more than I, yet, even so, there are some people who are incapable of doing the work necessary to change.

Which reminds me of a contemporary fable of,

The Scorpion and the Frog

In the story of the scorpion and the frog, a frog meets a scorpion on the side of a riverbank. The scorpion wants to reach the other side to save his family, but there is no way to get across for him because scorpions are unable to swim.

The scorpion comes upon a frog and beckons him to engage in conversation, but the frog is apprehensive, thinking this might be a trap because scorpions prey on frogs.

The scorpion assures the frog that no harm will come to the frog because the scorpion must make it to the other side of the river to save his family, and since the frog can swim, he could offer the scorpion safe passage to the opposing river bank by allowing the scorpion to ride on the frog’s back to cross the river.

The frog asks, “How will I know you won’t sting me and kill me?”

“Because” answers the frog, “I need your skills of swimming to get me to the other side to save my family. If I were to sting you, and you were to die, I might not be able to make it to my family in time to rescue them.”

The frog and the scorpion make a bargain and agree to enter into a contractual agreement where the scorpion vows not to harm the frog.

So, the scorpion crawls onto the back of the frog and the frog starts to swim across the river.

All is going well, then about halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog.

The dying frog screams at the scorpion, “I am going to die, you are going to drown, and your family will suffer peril! Why would you do that?”

To which the scorpion replies, “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. After all, I am a scorpion. It’s just the way I am.”

The frog dies and the scorpion drowns.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you might like someone that you care about to change, you cannot do it for them. You cannot make someone change when they do not have the inclination or capacity for change.

Do not bargain or enter into contractual agreements for change of another person because you cannot make anyone change. Certainly, people are capable of changing, but the choice to go about doing the work relies solely on their ability and commitment to themselves.

Sometimes, the threat of loss can help to motivate someone to change, but even so, the process of actually making the necessary changes falls on the person who you might like to see change.

Don’t be surprised when someone breaks their commitment to you with little remorse, only offering an irreverent, “It’s just the way I am.” After all, he or she couldn’t help him- or herself,  as it was simply a part of his or her undeniable nature, he or she was a scorpion.